Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Apr 2, 2022

ʻĪkoi 2022

Two soldiers stationed at Schofield went out for an adventure one night.

Damien Corliss and Max Steerforth exited Lyman gate and headed toward the north shore in Corliss's dodge ram. The two had heard of an ancient Hawaiian temple of human sacrifice and all the lore associated with that location through word of mouth. Following Waze and bringing a physical map with them in case their phones lost a wifi signal, they were soon driving past Waimea bay and fast approaching Pupukea road. Corliss was not expecting so many sharp twisting turns on the road. He nearly lost control of his vehicle a few times, almost sending the truck crashing into the hillside or going off the other side of the road where there was nothing but a sheer drop straight down into the haole koa and sharp boulders below. They didn't miss the sign to the entrance of the heiau because of how the stark yellowed letters seemed to glow under the beams from the headlights. Steerforth expected the classic dirt road that would lead them to the ancient Hawaiian temple of human sacrifice, but to his astonishment, the path was smoothly paved and not at all troublesome. Both men found it disconcerting that the parking lot to the heiau seemed to manifest out of the pitch black. Corliss had to come to a skidding halt before realizing that he had to park to the left. The headlights from the truck revealed a large wall made from handset stones sitting there in black silence. The scope of the location hadn't really struck the two until they exited the vehicle and got a good look at the place. It was massive and a lot more extensive than they thought. 

"Good thing we're not drunk," Corliss scoffed.

"Let's get to it," Steerforth urged his buddy. "I think I might have to take a shit real soon."

Without hesitation, the two stepped over the sacred walls of the heiau and were now walking toward the old lele, the spot where victims for sacrifice to the gods were offered. Corliss lay flat on his back, not caring that his shirt and jeans would be stained with red dirt. Steerforth removed a large pocket knife from his pocket and held it up to quiet air, "I offer Seargent Damien Corliss from Kansas as a human sacrifice to the Hawaiian gods of this temple!" For a split second, he'd forgotten what followed after. "What's the other thing?"

"You stab me, you idiot," Corliss hissed.

"Oh yeah," Steerforth snapped his fingers. "Where again?"

"The love handles moron, there's no vital organs in the love handles," Corliss was irritated. Then, reaching up, he snatched the large pocket knife from Steerforth, stabbed himself in the left love handle, and lay there as the blood began streaming out. "What happens next?" Steerforth asked.

"I just lay here and let the blood seep into the dirt; after that, we should see something happen," Corliss assured Steerforth. "Pretty soon."

The only thing that happened was that Corliss began to go pale, and thanks to Steerforth's better sense of the situation, he grabbed Corliss, put him in the truck, and drove him to Wahiawa general where he thought they wouldnʻt get in trouble as opposed to bringing him on base. 

"So, nothing happened after you two assholes went to the heiau and did what you did?" I asked.

"Whoa," Steerforth physically pulled his body away from where I sat across from them at the burger joint. "I understand that youʻre native, but there is no need to be disrespectful!"

"Says the idiot who helped his friend desecrate an ancient Hawaiian temple of human sacrifice," I sneered.

"Look," Corliss pointed his finger into my chest. "We called you because we heard that you could help us; this is not helping! Youʻre judging us!"

"Why?" I was seething, obviously, enough to push Corlissʻs finger away from my chest. "You donʻt believe in or respect my culture, and you didnʻt give a shit about what you were doing when the two of you desecrated that heiau? So why donʻt you go call a priest or a pastor or something? Why even bother coming to me?"

"We did that," Steerforth confessed. "It didnʻt take; nothing is working."

"What a surprise," I grabbed my drink and burger and left while the two soldiers called out from behind me.

"So, youʻre not gonna help us?" I kept walking. I went straight out the door and was headed toward my car when they came running up behind me. "Itʻs been following us, causing all kinds of shit but not to us," Steerforth pleaded. 

I stopped and looked them both in the eye, "Donʻt tell me the two of you are married with kids?"

They looked down, and wouldnʻt meet my eyes. "Our wives and kids, they wake up with bruises and scratched and bite marks all over,"

"But nothing happens to us," Steerforth said quietly. 

"My uncles are Vietnam vets," I told them. "They were in a country that they were not from and associated with people they didnʻt know, but everywhere they went, despite what was going on with the war, they were respectful," I leaned closer to them so they could understand what I meant. "You keep acting like youʻre at war when there is no war to be had. Now, war has come to you."


An hour later, I was parked at the office, but I remembered that my Uncles wanted me to stop at the BBQ place to get them a cheeseburger with all the fixings on it. It wasnʻt a problem, they had a rough week, and aunty Ritaʻs tenacious nature didnʻt make things easy. I liked the BBQ place because of the crushed ice they put in their drinks. The fries were delicious because of how thick they were and how the right amount of salt was sprinkled on them, and oh my gosh, they had a special kind of ketchup with a sour sauce in it. So murderously delicious. The walk to and from the office was two blocks, very easy and sometimes necessary when one of us needed to get out into the fresh air after sitting in the air conditioning for most of the day. I was waiting to cross at Hausten when I noticed a little chubby Hawaiian boy in an Astro Boy tank top and blue aloha print shorts standing next to me. His slippers gave off that brand new rubber smell like it had just been bought from the store. His rice bowl haircut balanced the bangs right above his eyes; they were big and brown.

 "That smells like french fries and cheeseburgers," he said.

"Yes," I nodded.

"How many french fries do you have?" He asked ever so curiously.

"I haven't counted," I replied while watching to see if the light changed.

"I can count the french fries," he offered. "I can count up to too-wenty,"

"Very funny," I looked at him, and only then did I see how full his face was and how he had such chubby cheeks. "Where's your mama, your papa?"

"Over there," he pointed back to stadium park.

"You should go back there," I suggested. "They could be worried if they can't find you, c'mon," I told him as I began to walk back to the park. "I'll take you back."

He seemed disappointed, but he came with me anyway. "I wish I could eat one big french fry," he squealed. 

"When you get back, you can tell your papa to get you some french fries," I said. We were at the intersection of Isenburg, and when the walk signal came on, I told the little boy to grab onto my coat so we could cross together. Once we were on the other side, I asked him to point me in the direction of where his parents might be. I assumed his folks were in the park. Instead, the boy pointed to a row of cars parked on Isenburg. Homeless people were living in those cars. "Your folks are over there? In one of those cars?" He smiled and waved his chubby hands at me, and ran off. Halfway down the sidewalk, he stopped and came back. "My name is ʻĪkoi," he turned around and ran off again. I had half a mind to follow him to see which car they lived in. That way, I could scold his parents for letting him run off on his own. But the burgers and fries would get cold, and I couldnʻt keep my uncles waiting. That night, I dreamed about the soldiers from Schofield watching in horror while their wives and children were being torn apart by something they could not see and had no power to stop. Corliss and Steerforth pleaded with me in the dream to help them, but I did nothing. I just stood there and watched.

...To be continued



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