Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

May 27, 2022

Haʻaloʻu 2022

When my son's marriage ended, I was there for him as much as he needed me to be.

I'm his father, after all, but rather than trying to assuage him of his pain, I told him to sit with it and feel it through his body, through every fiber of his being. 

"Cry," I told him. "Cry as much as you want until it makes you sick. Cry until you have nothing left. Let that pain curl you up, let it destroy your appetite, and do everything it's supposed to do to you," I said as I hugged my baby boy and held him tight. "But don't you let it destroy you; you survive this; you live and remember what you're going through. Don't forget it because if you are the man I know you are, you'll learn from this, and you will know that you won't ever want to put anyone through the same shit that you're going through right now."

"Thanks, Dad," he patted my shoulder. "I'll do that."

"It's part of your life experience, but it doesn't have to define who you are," I held his thirty-five-year-old face and smiled big. "Am I right?"

"Yeah, you're right," he nodded.

"Let's go get some breakfast and then you can come back and get your day started," I told him. "I have to go get a couple of woodworking tools from the hardware store."

The two of us had a big breakfast together. A stack of pancakes, a pile of scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage, huge strips of bacon, and steaming hot rice. We talked about everything and nothing; we talked as if we were long-lost friends and not really father and son. He was witty and astute, my Sydney. He had a talent for making you laugh so that you'd be comfortable around him, and before you know it, you're opening up and telling him your life story. However, things are different in a marriage, and even now, I wonder when Melissa got tired of Syndey's natural charm and good disposition? When did she decide that Sydney's efforts to give her a good life and provide for her so that she would never want anything were not enough? What was it about my son that made Melissa not love him anymore? He wasn't perfect, no one is, really, but Sydney came pretty damned close. Sydney was true and faithful. He never smoked or drank, and even during their worst arguments, he never swore at her or demeaned her, nor did he ever make her feel like she was less than she was. Indeed, he never laid a hand on her. Granted, Sydney could be indignant when he knew he was right. He didn't have a temper, but it was hard to calm him down once you pushed him past his limits. That's what Melissa did; she had a tendency to push him all the time, needle him over the most minor things. I noticed it whenever they were over at my place. I played diplomat, but you could see it. Melissa just never seemed to be happy in general, and she was thinking all the time; it was in her eyes. She always wanted to be somewhere other than where she was at the present moment. That girl came to Sydney as damaged goods, but my son, ever the saint, loved her anyway. He realized eventually that neither he nor anyone else could fill that big hole in her heart. So, when Melissa was done destroying Sydney, she moved on to someone else. An attorney who was twice her age and made three times the money that Sydney did. 

"Feel sorry for that guy she's with," I said to my son when this thing first happened. "He has no idea what he's in for; she'll chew him up and spit him out just like she did with you," 

And, of course, that is precisely what happened. Except that for as much as Melissa had Bernard Ornellas wrapped around her finger, he, as second nature because of his job, drew up some paperwork he had her sign before their marriage. "Just some documentation if anything happens; you'll get what's coming to you," he said.

You couldn't get Melissa to sign quick enough. Little did she know that the document really specified that if, for any reason, Melissa in any way, shape, or form renigged on the agreement of their marriage, which included faithfulness, Bernard would not owe her any alimony or recompense of any kind. So it was that Melissa moved on to someone else, breaking Bernard's heart in the process, not knowing that she would have nothing to show for it. So, when Sydney got himself right in the head and the heart, Melissa came crawling back. She claimed that she didn't deserve his sympathy, but she was out on her ass and just needed somewhere to stay until she could get herself back on her feet and she would be gone. As Melissa attempted to hold his hand, he recoiled. I like to think that he finally realized that she was literally poison. He must have been standing at the doorway of his house for an hour, listening to all of her reasons, excuses, and false apologies before he finally let her in. Melissa's screams were so loud that they brought the neighbors out of their houses. They all came running to Sydney's doorstep and were just as horrified, if not more, than Melissa. My son lay slumped up against the foyer wall just inside the front door. In his lap was his shotgun, and there wasn't much left of what Sydney used to look like because he put the barrel of the shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, dying instantly. He'd made up his mind long before I held him and encouraged him as best I could. Sydney decided on what he going to do long before I took him out to breakfast. As much as I told him to take it all in and survive the pain and be stronger for it, he'd already drowned himself in it. What a surprise for Melissa to stand at his doorstep for an entire hour, conversing and cajoling my son, to let her in, not just into their old house, but into his heart, never knowing that she was talking to his spirit. At the same time, his corporeal form lay dead and destroyed just inside the front door. Melissa never recovered after that night; she wasn't committed to an institution, although that would have been too kind for her because she deserved worse. But she was never quite right in the head. Every time she attempted to get into another relationship, Sydney, in his mutilated incarnation, would manifest and destroy any intent Melissa had in destroying another man's life. I miss my Sydney every day, but I am happy in knowing that his spirit is still around, preventing his ex-wife from spreading any more discontent in the world.

Credit: Fatherly


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.


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