Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

May 15, 2022

End 2022

Sunday, January 13, 2018, at 8:07 am, a false missile alert was sent out to the Hawaiian islands.

Even though the inbound missile was supposed to have struck sooner, it lasted thirty-eight minutes. For that short time, everyone's mortality hung in the balance. Some people were at peace with the end of their time on earth arriving so soon. Others were not. Yet, a few could not suffer the circumstances and decided to take drastic action. Things were not good for my wife and me, what with our two children, Max and Chaun, still ten and eight years old, and the arguments between us were not good for them to witness. We weren't keen on divorcing because of how it might affect our little ones, but at the same time, we knew we didn't love one another. I received the missile alert while frying up some eggs for breakfast. Hailey should have been on her way home with the kids after their early morning Kūmon classes, which means she more than likely got the alert. She called me even before I could speed dial her number. "I saw it," I said calmly. "Where are you?"

"I thought about going into the mōʻiliʻili park bathroom, but it's already crammed with homeless people," she replied evenly. "We just drove by there. If this thing is due in fifteen minutes, weʻre not going to make it."

I was already in the truck and on my way down the street. "Do you know where the Varsity building is?"

"Yeah," I could tell she was trying to appear calm for the kids.

"Thereʻs that parking lot directly across the street, where that daycare school is? Walk to the traffic light and cross on your side of the street, donʻt go across to the Varsity building! When you cross, turn right and go behind that fence, youʻll see a drain going down toward the fence, follow it and go in there and wait for me, Iʻm almost there," I said.

"But itʻs filthy," she hissed.

"Go there now, Hailey, please! Please! I love you, and I canʻt lose you and the kids! Not like this!" I hung up, and with only five minutes to spare, I made it to the parking lot, threw the truck and park, and ran to the location. Thank god they were there, huddled near the bottom of the drain, crying. I gave them all quick hugs and kisses and walked them further down into the karst until we came upon an old Japanese man in a dungaree shirt, jeans rolled up to his knees. He wore a pair of old slippers, and next to him was an open piece of butcher paper with slices of bread. He held a bamboo fishing pole with suji wire and a hook immersed in the water. "Come, come!" He whispered and waved us over. "Come sit over here but have to be quiet, the fish are blind, but they can hear everything!" He looked at us strangely for a second and remarked. "Whereʻs are your fishing poles? You didnʻt come to fish?"

"No," I replied. "There's been a missile alert; it's going hit us any moment now; everybody's cell phone got the alert; it's all over the news."

"Oh," he nodded. "Like Nagasaki and Hiroshima."

"Yes," I replied. "The same effect sort of, but with a missile."

"I was a translator for the army when that happened," the old Japanese man shared. "So glad the war was over, but sad after coming home." He slipped into the dark water until it was waist deep and slowly walked forward until the darkness engulfed him. Max and Chaun were terrified, the poor things, and Hailey wasn't sure about what was happening until the old man returned, pulling a rowboat behind him.

 "Come," he waved us over. "You folks come inside and hide; I take you a little further in so the blast cannot bother you." He reached into the rowboat, removed a kerosene lantern, and turned the flame up. "No need to be afraid; everything will be alright."

For some reason, we had no fear of him. Instead, his mannerisms and voice had a calming effect on us, and we climbed into the rowboat without a bit of worry. When he got us to our destination, he said, "I'll come to get you in a few minutes; please don't worry."

In those few minutes, I cried and held on to my wife and kids and apologized for being a horrible husband and father with no expectation of reciprocation from Hailey or the kids. "Whatever you decide," I whispered to my wife. "I'll be fine with it."

The old Japanese man reappeared and pulled us back to where we first met him. "Everything is fine; you can all go back now. I checked myself; it must have been a false alarm because nothing is destroyed; everything is still the same."

"My name is Horace," I shook his hand and hugged him.

"Takeo," he gave that laugh that comes with living through a war and still being able to remain humble. "Takeo Tamayose."

He was right; when we got a signal again on our phones, the text message read 'False Alarm.' We were all fine and very much alive. Takeo was gone; he must have gone back to continue fishing. Five years later, we are a better family than five years ago. Hailey and I separated and eventually divorced, but it was all very amicable. No animosity, hard feelings, or harsh words. Our kids are OK and very well adjusted. As for Takeo, I forgot about him for a little while until I attended the graveside services of a classmate at the Japanese section of Honolulu cemetery. I saw the black marble ohaka with the gold Japanese characters engraved into it next to where Mori Kanda was being laid to rest. Takeo Tamayose. Born 1900. Died 1987. The headstone embossed pictures of all of his medals from serving in the army. It's him, the same Takeo who helped us five years ago, or at least, his spirit. He helped guide us on the best path possible.


17A Productions Presents

Lopaka Kapanui at Hawaii Theatre

A storytelling concert at the historic Hawaii Theatre. This master storyteller is one of Hawaii’s most popular teller of tales and has been in the business of scaring people for more than 20 years. Lopaka is terrifically skilled at provoking that sudden chill going down one’s back or causing the small hairs on your arms to stand up. Chicken skin is what we call it in Hawai‘i. Others might refer to it as chills or goosebumps. Sharing real accounts of Hawaii’s supernatural culture, Lopaka often leaves audience members questioning the darkness on their drive home and anxiously leaving the light on at bedtime.


No comments:

Post a Comment