Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Apr 15, 2022

Moa Pāheʻe 2022

What was I doing working at a job that I hated?

Sure, the pay was excellent, but what was I giving up in lew of sound money? Was it my integrity? My sanity? My soul? I was at an impasse in my life and in my career. I was utterly lost as to what my next career move would be. By the time lunch came around, I was too wrapped up in my thoughts to notice the downtown lunch crowd going to and from wherever. I took a seat near the fountain at Walker Park and chewed on my sandwich, not really enjoying its taste but eating it by rote, if that makes any sense? Two men in business suits stood on the grass near the old cannon. Their conversation seemed lively and animated, and it caught my attention. They faced one another at a ten or fifteen-foot distance; in front of each of the men were two pegs spaced less than a foot apart. In their hands, they held what looked like a tear-shaped wooden dart. They were taking turns trying to toss it and slide it along the grass between the two pegs. It was not an easy process, and it was apparent that this was a serious competition between the two as there was intense laughing and shouting each time one or the other missed the mark. 

"You betta hope I don't get one in Duggie; you know what's gonna happen!" The one-man warned the other.

"Bustah, no worry about me; worry about yourself and your wife and kids," Duggie concentrated before taking his turn. "No husband, no faddah around; it's gonna be tough!" He gave it an underhanded throw, and the tear-shaped wooden dart skimmed the surface of the manicured grass ever so swiftly that Bustah's face dropped as if the end of his life was soon to be had it stopped right in front of the pegs and did not go through. "Uuuuuuuuggghh!" Duggie screamed. "No!!!"

With no hesitation, Bustah whipped his tear-shape dart with an almost similar underhanded throw, and the object went through the pegs with no problem. There was no celebration or whooping and hollering from Bustah. Instead, he walked over to his opponent and laid his hand on Duggie's shoulder. "See you at midnight."

"What was that all about?" I asked the winner as he walked past me.

"Moa Pāheʻe," Bustah gestured toward Duggie. "You slide the moa pāheʻe between your opponent's pegs; whoever wins gets one wish granted. Whoever loses, loses his bones; you only ever get one try."

"What?" I scoffed. "Thatʻs bullshit,"

"Be here at midnight," he chuckled. "Youʻll see,"

Midnight came, and because my job and my life sucked worse than a Hoover giving half effort, I was there at Walker Park. I donʻt know how no one called the authorities because there was a large group of people whose features I couldnʻt make out, preparing an imu. The pit was already dug, glowing orange, and wrapped in a wire netting that formed around his body was Duggie, naked and very much dead. His chest and torso were cut open wide in his body cavity sat some of the hot glowing rocks from the imu. The large group of people layed Duggieʻs body on the fresh row of plantain. The second group of people placed wet burlap bags on top of Duggie and covered that with a large grey tarp. Everyone then grabbed a shovel and covered their handiwork with a mound of dirt. "To get the one wish when you win Moa Pāheʻe, there has to be an understanding that the loser must sacrifice himself in exchange for his opponentʻs victory," Bustah said. "Luckily, today I won. Otherwise, that would have been me in the imu."

This was absolutely crazy, and Bustah could see my thoughts on my face. "I can introduce you to the organizer; this game is important when you feel like youʻve lost your purpose on the job and in life. The benefits of being the winner are crazy because you get two things, fortune and immortality."

So, iʻm playing the game next month. Wish me luck, because Duggie is my opponent.




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