Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

May 30, 2022

Kaomi 'Ekolu 2022

Priscilla was only 46 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Breast cancer, to be specific. But, she was still young, and there was so much more life to live and experience. I thought I could be strong for her, be her rock when it all seemed hopeless, but it ended up being the other way around. I fell apart like a blithering idiot. My life didn't make any sense without her in it; she was the one constant when people and situations were not. Yet, here she was, holding me, rocking me back and forth, assuring me that it would all be alright even though she knew, in the end, it wouldn't. The cancer was already too far advanced; she was going to die. The doctors gave her less than six months. 

"Let's just live every day like we've been doing, just our normal routine. So let's do that, okay?" She suggested. "Besides, I'm the one that's dying, so you have to do what I say. So just think of it like it's my birthday."

"I do everything you say, anyway," I smirked. 

"You know what I mean," she held my hands in hers. "Like right now," she said as she took off her clothes in the middle of our garage just as we were about to get in the car. "Let's make love right here on the hood of our car." She walked to the front of our vehicle and laid back on the hood. "C'mon, let's do it. Let's take every opportunity to make love whenever we can and as much as possible. So drop your pants, and get over here!" Crazy woman, she refused to close the garage door too!

"That's actually sweet," the nurse giggled. "And funny, Priscilla sounded like a real character,"

"She was," I agreed. "At night, she wanted us to have dinner on the roof or our home, and then when it was time to turn in for the night, she wanted to sleep on the roof. Making love up there was a challenge; you don't realize just how many times we almost fell off,"

"How did you manage after she was gone?" The nurse wanted to know. It was part of the process.

"I didn't," I reply. "I guess you never really do manage; you just go on. You live as if the person were still around in a way. I don't know; I don't think there's a real answer to a question like that."

"But you did," the nurse insisted. "You and Priscilla were classmates; you were the same age. She died at 46, and here you are all these years later, at only 59 years old. You don't even look like you're sick or like you've had any major health issues, and yet here you are in hospice.?"

"Of all the places I've looked for you, all the places I thought you'd be, I could never find you. It was not until I thought you might be in a place like this. And I was right; here you are in the flesh for as much as you can be in the flesh, in the guise of a hospice nurse," I told her. "Or a death doula, you could be that too."

"So, you want to die to go be with your wife, is that it?" She asked.

"Yes," I confirmed. "I miss Priscilla so much; I want to see her again,"

"Kevin, even I have to adhere to the law of causality and time, and it's not your time," she told me. "I can't take anyone until it's their time to go. You're not due until you're 97."

"I'll just kill myself," that was my answer. Short and sweet, "I'll just kill myself, that's all."

"It won't work because it's not your time; no matter how you try to kill yourself, something will always prevent it from happening," she was logical and matter of fact.

"Then what am I supposed to do!?" I yelled at her, at Death. 

"Live," she was incredulous because she'd heard this question many times. "You don't know how times people ask me for a few more days or a few more years when their time is up. But, of course, by then, it's too late. So take advantage of what I am telling you right now and live, for shit's sake! Go and live a whole life with no regret so that when I see you again, you'll be ready. People kick and scream until they realize there's nothing they can do and that they have to go. Once I take them, they see the light and then understand. When it's your time, Kevin, I want you to come willingly, no struggle, no fuss. Just willingly."

She was gone after that, just gone like she was never there. I don't know if the nurses at the station saw it or not or if they did and just ignored it. I felt so defeated and hopeless, and with those feelings, I walked back to my car in the structure. Guess I'll go home and sleep on the roof again. If I'm lucky, I might roll off and fall to my Death. "Kevin? What are you doing here?" I whipped around, and Priscilla was standing right in front of the car. I think I screamed out of fear before I felt anything else. I guess I was too stunned. "Kevin, why are you here at this hospice when you're not dying? What is wrong with you?"

"I was looking for death to take me so we can be together," I told her. "This was the only place I could find the reaper, and you know what? Death refused me! She was disguised as a nurse, and she wouldn't take me!"

"Kevin, you don't really know how short life is, but once you get to where I'm at, you'll see it, and you'll appreciate it," she scolded. "Go home, hun, go find a hobby or a part-time job but don't live like this. Besides, you haven't changed out of those clothes in a month, yet you came to hospice like that? It's pathetic."

"I love you, Priscilla," I told her. "I miss you."

"I love you, Kev, but you have to stop being a bonehead and go get a life and make the most of the life you have left. I'll be here when you get to the other side; now go!" Like Death earlier, Priscilla was gone, like she was never there.


Kevin went home and cried, felt sorry for himself, and cried some more until he was all cried out. Then, he got a gym membership and improved his health and lifestyle. Eventually, he began working at the gym and soon became a store manager and then a regional manager. But, he didn't need the money because he had a giant retirement nest he was sitting on. It was something that he didn't know he needed. He later enrolled himself in college, and at close to 69 years of age, he got a degree in liberal arts and then moved on to Hawaiian studies. Kevin kept doing all the things that he never thought he could do, all the way up until his time came at 97 years of age. First, he ran for the neighborhood board and won. Then, Kevin ran for the city council and won. Finally, he ran for a representative seat and won that too, never forgetting about Priscilla. All those years ago, it was unfair to make myself appear as Priscilla in the parking garage at the hospice because if I didn't, Kevin would have only pursued me to another hospice or a battlefield in the middle east or, even worse, a mass shooting. So, that's why I did it. To get him out of there and to encourage him to live. And as promised, when Kevin finally did come to me, Priscilla was right there waiting for him. Hopefully, he doesn't bring up the parking garage thing to his wife because then I'll have some explaining to do.



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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