Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 2, 2022

Buffett 2022

We didn't meet in the classical sense of a meeting; we were part of a group of friends. Hers and mine. It was the last day of intermediate school, and to celebrate, my friends and I walked to the Pizza Hut restaurant to try their buffet. There were fourteen of us in our group and twelve in hers. I must pause here and say that during that time in the mid-70s', pizza had a whole different smell to it. It's not the same today, but man, when we walked up to that buffet, we may as well have been high. It was intoxicating. My group occupied one side of the restaurant, and her group walked in a few minutes after we did. Many heys and whats ups were exchanged between both parties until we all mushed our tables together and had one big pizza bacchanal. Well, at least that's how I recall it. My favorite, and it still is today, is pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives. I went up for my umpteenth slices and noticed that there was only one slice left. She'd come up at the same time for the same piece, and we both had our hands on it, "Let's half it?" I asked. "You can have it," she replied. "I don't care."
"Well, no, you take it," I told her. "I don't mind just the pepperoni."
"No, it's your favorite," she countered. "Out of all the slices, you came up for this one, so you take it."
I took a steak knife, cut the slice down the middle, and placed one half on her plate to quell the argument. "That was nice of you," she smiled. "You didn't have to."
"But I did," I smiled back. As I returned to my table, she was right behind me and took a seat next to mine. She must have seen the confused look on my face because she said, "the least I can do is come sit with you to show my appreciation."
"You don't have to do anything you don't want," I reassured her.
"I want to, alright? Eat your pizza. Do you want more soda, by the way?" She was so unusual in the way that it seemed like I knew her forever. So was a thirteen-year-old supposed to have those kinds of experiences? So here is what's funny about that whole encounter, we'd spent so much time talking during the pizza fest, and after I walked her home, we never once asked one another our names. She lived down the lane from the old Nabarette store; I walked her to the front of the garage of her home and bid her goodbye as she did to me. I was walking along Waipahu depot road, passing by the old August Ahrens school long before the big fire took away the old wooden structure, when I heard someone running up behind me. It was her, breathing heavy and trying to catch her breath. "I'm Meredith," she huffed and puffed. "Like Meredith Baxter Bernie, the actress?" I asked. "Yes," she nodded. "Exactly like that, here," she gave me a piece of folded-up paper, which I took, of course, and opened up. "That's my phone number; I'm only allowed phone calls at seven and then only for five or ten minutes, alright?"
"Yeah, sure," I agreed. "I'm Kamuela, or Samuel."
"I like Kamuela," she smiled and walked back to her home. "Seven, alright?"


That was nineteen-seventy-six. It's forty-six years later, and we have never stopped talking. We married after high school and had a horde of kids, a big house, lots of debt, and a perfect life. Forty some odd years of matrimony, and she's still the only person I can really talk to about anything and everything. Tonight, the meat jun was in rare form, and the mayonnaise potatoes were balanced perfectly, not too much of one thing and less of the other. The tart sauce brought everything to a pleasant crescendo, as did the draft beer. I was never more glad to be alive than I was now. "Better than the restaurant," I complimented her cooking. "Thank you," she bowed slightly and then took a swig of beer. "This is nice, all the kids and grandkids are out at the soccer game, and we get some alone time to ourselves."
"After this, we should, you know?"
"We can't," she sighed. "Soon as we do, everyone's gonna come home," she chuckled. "We have to wait till later."
"We'll be asleep later," I reminded her.
"The disparities of old age," she shook her head. "We just gotta get it while we can."
"No better time than right now," I stood up and took my shirt off and then my pants.
"Whoa, hold on there, tiger, I still have a bunch of food in my mouth," she warned me.
"But, you don't have food in your pants," I reminded her.
"Gross," she moaned. 
Meredith was right, though, we were in the middle of the hot and heavy, and the kids and grandkids pulled up in the garage. We made it by mere seconds to the bathroom, where we jumped into the shower together. When our adult children realized that both of us were taking a shower together, we heard a collective, "Ewwwww...!" 


"I love you, Kamuela, my sweet man who halved his pizza slice with me," she slid her hand into mine and brought it up to her cheek and kissed it. 

"I love you, Meredith, named after the actress who stole my heart," I replied. "You Meredith, not the actress." She giggled and snuggled up to me, and I held her close.

We fell into a deep slumber as we always did, holding on to one another. The following morning, Meredith never woke up. She passed peacefully overnight, of natural causes. Even now, on those days when I miss her most, she still talks to me. Assuring me that everything would be alright and I shouldn't rush to join her. "It will happen when it happens," she says. "I'll be waiting with a slice of pepperoni, black olives, and mushrooms."

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