Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jun 20, 2022

Ron 2022

Believing this story is still difficult for me, even though I am a person who has had a lifelong experience with mysterious and strange things.

It's not that the story is too convenient or contrived; it's just that it reminds me too much of one of those Grimm fairytales from back in the day. The story goes that there was a small manapua or meaʻono puaʻa business in town that was very popular because of how sweet the bun or the bao tasted, which only heightened the taste of the pork inside. The kalua pig bun was always sold out and the most requested for parties and other events. The business was run by one young woman and no one else. She would prepare everything from the night before, and the following day, lines were already forming around the block, and cars were double-parked out front. One late evening, a homeless man appeared at the kitchen's back door, asking the young girl if she had any food to spare? He did not seem threatening or give off any bad vibes. She gave him three mea ʻono puaʻa and three cans of soda, to which he thanked her and excused himself to sit under a tree nearby. The young girl called out for the homeless man to come back, having already set out a fold-out table and a chair for him to sit on. He graciously accepted and again thanked the young girl for her kindness. When the establishment opened at five in the morning, the young girl noticed that the traffic in the parking lot was down to a strange minimum and that the line seemed to be moving along quicker than usual. She took a second to peek outside and saw the homeless man calmly directing traffic, so everyone got a fair parking space without blocking anyone in. He kindly reminded everyone to eat the meaʻono puaʻa later so that others could park, get their purchase, and leave accordingly. An hour later, the young girl was sold out, which was business for the day. Before closing the doors, she invited the homeless man in and prepared a kalua pig, eggs, and rice breakfast served with a cup of hot coffee. They talked a bit, and she found out that he was actually houseless, not mentally ill, a recovering drug addict, or fresh out of jail. He was just someone who fell on hard times. 

"There is a shower and sink in the back; it's a separate space from the store," she told the homeless man, who introduced himself as Ron. "I'll give you the key, just don't make a mess and clean up after yourself. I'll get you a towel and some soap and deodorant too. I'm Kelsey, by the way, this used to be my parent's business, but they died in a car accident. So I've been running it ever since."

"I really do appreciate your kindness," Ron said.

"Do you have a story, Ron?" Kelsey asked.

"My wife and child too," Ron began. "They died in an accident, things fell apart after that, and it's been hard to recover."

Ron appeared every morning after that to help with the parking and the line of people, never expecting anything in return from Kelsey. Sometimes, she would have to go and find him to make sure that he was well fed. But, he'd turn up eventually, and the two would have a meal and sit and talk. Then, one day, Kelsey received a big order from a huge business corporation that needed a thousand of her mea ʻono puaʻa and her sweet steamed buns, which meant that on top of her regular inventory, she would have to put out the extra for the business corporation. There wasnʻt any way she could have done it alone, so with no other choice, she had no choice but to ask Ron for help. Upon agreeing, he also got a crash course in making the sweet steamed bun and the mea ʻono puaʻa. Ron had to run everything in the morning while Kelsey stayed in the back, preparing everything for the big business corporation. Ron survived the onslaught, and within the hour, everything sold out. Without hesitation, he went to the back and began helping Kelsey with whatever she needed. By the end of the day, the mea ʻono puaʻa in the sweet buns were prepared, boxed, and personally delivered by Kelsey and Ron. Splurging on a couple of bottles of champagne, the two returned to the store and celebrated Kelsey's success. 

"Thank you, Ron," Kelsey toasted him. "You were a great help!"

"The thanks are all yours," Ron returned the toast. "Congratulations,"

"Do you have that bathroom key on you?" Kelsey asked. "I really have to go,"

Kelsey went to the separate room where she used the facilities; already in her mind, she thought about asking Ron to stay and work at the store full time; she'd make a space for him to sleep. He'd have money to buy his clothes and whatever else he needed. Going back to the store, she was surprised to see that Ron was gone; he was nowhere to be found. Business went on as usual, and Kelsey's store achieved local fame. TV spots on a national cooking show, a guest on a national podcast, and even a small role in a feature film. However, nothing changed the way she ran her business. She prepped, opened, and closed at the same time, and that was it. One night as she closed the shop, she exited the back door and was shocked to see Ron standing there. "Fuck Ron!" She screamed. "You scared the shit out of me!"

"Sorry," Ron giggled.

"Where've you been? You just took off; I could have really used your help, especially now," she sighed with irritation.

"I'm sorry, I just have these periods where I have to go off somewhere and be by myself, and I didn't want to burden you with that," Ron said.

"Like, you shut down or something?" Kelsey asked.

"Something like that," Ron replied. "When it does happen, I need time alone unit it passes, then I'm fine."

"Alright," Kelsey hesitated.

Kelsey and Ron ran the store together until it was finally time to expand the location and hire more employees. In a short time, the two were married and had children. Things only improved; once Kelsey and Ron reached their early forties, they retired and let their most trusted employees run everything. Why is this story so hard to believe, you ask? It's because of Ron. He told me that during those times, he shut down and needed time on his own; Ron had to go back to the land from whence he came, and then things would be fine, and he'd return home. It was the same situation in his previous life before Kelsey, except that he shut down while driving with his wife and child in the car. That was the accident that cost them their lives. Ron claimed that his spirit would leave his body and return to its home until it was ready to return. 

"And where would that be?" I asked him.

"The land of the Mū people, the Menehune," he replied.

See? I told you, not even you would believe it.


17A Productions Presents

Lopaka Kapanui at Hawaii Theatre

A LIVE and IN-PERSON 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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