Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Apr 23, 2022

Makaluku 2022

Have you ever had something happen to you that was so unexpected and traumatic that it changed you completely?

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, who received a visit from the phantoms that changed his entire outlook on life and transformed him into a new person? You know? Like that? I was seven years old when my father went on a fishing trip with a couple of his friends. They ended up in the channel between Oahu and Molokai and had everything they needed. Unfortunately, the boat they took out was very old, and it started to take on water about an hour into the expedition. Not my father nor the other two men noticed until it was too late. Coupled with the wind conditions and the high choppy waves, the boat was halfway submerged in no time. This was in the early 70s,' and you know, I can't remember how my mother came by the news of what might have happened. It could have been because my father hadn't returned when he was supposed to, or if one of the other men's wives contacted my mother, she somehow found out. A week went by before the three men were finally found floating on a large beer cooler. It was well past one in the morning when the rescue boat arrived at Pearl Harbor with my father and his buddies. I'd fallen asleep by then, but my mother woke me up so I could see him. His face was scraggly, and his eyes were red with exhaustion. I was happier to see him in the morning when I was wide awake and more receptive to what was going on. For a while, my father's harrowing story of survival, and his appreciation for having another chance at life, became the theme of our household for the rest of the year. Outwardly, he spoke about the transformation he went through after he was spared from death's door. Realistically, his disdain for me never changed. I was still the son he didn't want, the one he didn't want to adopt. The one he couldn't do any father and son activities with because I was not his actual flesh and blood. My mother fought him every step of the way until it began to harm her health. 

"Maybe," I remember thinking to myself, "he should have died that night when that fishing boat began to take on water. Then, maybe, he should have sunk with it."

I began to withdraw from him and not show any interest without being openly disrespectful. I had to be smart about it; I figured that the best way to handle it was to not be present. So, I made myself scarce as possible. I did extra classes for Karate on Saturdays, and I saved my lunch money during the week to see movies on Sundays. On weekdays, I did my homework and chores, and anytime between then, he would ask me to show him something I learned in Karate. I would exhibit the most basic kata. He would scoff and ask me how the kata was applicable in a real fight. I made the mistake of saying that it was like shadow boxing. That's when he decided to show me a few basic boxing skills, which I went along with so he'd leave me alone. 

"Throw me one of those karate kicks," he nodded. "Throw one right here," he slapped his sternum. "Hard," he insisted.

I stepped forward with the primary front kick directed to the sternum because that's what he asked for. He swatted the kick away with his left hand and gave me a full, unhindered, no snapback punch to my chest, knocking me straight to the living room carpet. I hit the wooden floor of the old plantation-style house with a thud that shook the timbers. My mother came running out of the kitchen, wholly horrified after seeing me lying on the carpet, fighting to get some air. 

"He's fine," my father waved me off. "He's gotta learn what it's like in a real fight, not this karate stuff."

I got right back up and kicked him in the balls, no snapback, but with the instep right up in the sweet spot. He dropped like a sack full of rice, and I didn't care about the beating that I knew would come later; at least I got mine. 



I expected the old man's ghost to show up during his memorial services, but alas, it was only us, my siblings, rehashing the ghost of his past. I had nothing to contribute except for a whiskey bottle at the dinner held at my third eldest brother's home. Growing up, the old pictures we had in the house were now in my brother's home. Hanging in the same spots where my father turned those pictures was weird. I came out of the bathroom and walked down the long claustrophobic hallway back to the living room when I ran into my old babysitter Vanessa. "Oh my gosh," she cried as she threw open her arms and gave me a hug. "You," she sighed. "I'm so happy that you turned out so good; we were all worried while you were growing up!"

"Worried about what?" I was confused, of course.

"I guess your mama never told you," she began crying. "That man was constantly trying to figure out ways to kill you. That boat trip he went on all those years ago when the thing sank, and they got lost? You were supposed to have gone with him. It was supposed to have been a father and son fishing trip, but your mama refused to let him take you. So, your father called two of his friends to go with him instead. It was all last minute; if those men didn't bring that giant beer cooler, they would have had nothing to float on, and they all would have drowned. God forgive me, but there were times that I thought about how better things would have been for you and your mama if that man had died that day."

There it was, the course of my life laid out right in front of me. My mother adopted me out of love, and my father wanted me out of the way because he saw me like a pebble in his shoe, just something to get rid of so he could walk through life with a greater degree of comfort. But my mother, that woman, kept that pebble in his shoe no matter how much he tried to empty it out. Gotta love that woman. I gave Vanesa a hug, and then she stopped me. "Where are you going?"

"Back outside for more whiskey," I told her.

"No," she held my hands. "Go out the back door, and leave. Your brothers are still your father's sons; they're planning to kill you once you get drunk enough," she whispered. "Your father lied and convinced them all of their lives that they were being robbed of a big-money inheritance that would go to you instead. Your mama told me there was never an inheritance; it was just another scheme of your father's. Go now, and change your phone number, your job; everything."

She hurried me to my car and watched to make sure that I left in one piece. Cheesus, talk about a long-term plan that spans a generation of assholes who just want to kill you because you're perceived as an inconvenience? How did I turn the tide on this one? I waited until it was later, much later, when it was only my brothers sitting outside around the big park bench that they stole from a park in Waikiki. The wives and kids were in the house, talking or watching tv. I started from the top of the driveway, put the car in gear, and let it roll until it gained momentum; then, I turned the engine on, slammed it into drive, and smashed the pedal to the floor. I hit eighty when I plowed the rental car right into them, shattering that park bench. They were all killed on impact, but just in case, like they do in the far east, I turned around and ran them over again. Then, I was gone. It was all over when everyone emptied the house and saw the big mess. I was long gone an hour beforehand, so nothing could be pinned on me. Anyway, that's how you do it, folks. That's how you handle a threat on your life that's been a threat for all of your life. Have a good weekend.

Credit: iStock



Check out our Mysteries of Hawai'i website and schedule your date with Hawaii's longest-running ghost tour! Visit some of Hawaii's Most Haunted sites with The Ghost Guy himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment