Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 2, 2022

Jeshua 2022

Jeshua Faleafine was the security guard at the old grocery store on Gulick Avenue in Kalihi.

This was during the mid-1960s' when Mr. Tamanaha would pay my family to sweep away all the leaves from the money tree that littered his parking lot. Jeshua would watch to make sure that an errant vehicle didn't decide to pull into the parking lot while the sweeping was going on. If they did, which often happened, they'd get an earful from Jeshua or worse. He was a gentle giant and all of seventy years of age. He immigrated here from Samoa after his wife passed away in nineteen-fifty nine. He saw no point in remaining since life did not make sense without her, so he came to the Hawaiian islands and has been here ever since. During the day, he drove a tour bus for a local company. On Sundays, he could be found at church; most evenings, he was at the grocery store. Mr. Tamanaha liked Jeshua, which we thought was funny because Mr. Tamanaha was not a nice man, and understandably so. He and his family were sent to an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and two of his five brothers were killed during the war. So, it was understandable why he was the way he was; no one held that against him. However, Mr. Tamanaha liked Jeshua for some reason. Before closing his store, he would prepare a large bento of food for Jeshua to have for dinner. The following mornings, Mr. Tamanaha arrived early before he had to open his store, and he would let Jeshua shop for whatever he wanted at no cost. "One day, when things have cleared up back home," Mr. Tamanaha would say to Jeshua. "I'll take you home with me to Japan. I think you'll like it!"

One morning, Jeshua was found murdered in the parking lot. His body lay in an unusual position, with three gunshots in his head. This is after we saw him the night before while sweeping and throwing away the dry leaves. 

He apologized for not helping us, as he'd been busy all day and did not have time to eat. "I hope you don't mind," he said. "I'm starving."

My father playfully scolded him for apologizing, and we went on with our cleaning. When we were done, we bid our good nights to Jeshua and drove off. Hearing about how he died was heartbreaking, but no one was heartbroken more than Mr. Tamanaha. He paid for Jeshua's services and to have his entire family flown here from Samoa. Unfortunately, no one ever found out who killed Jeshua or why. Things were quiet for a while, and so was Mr. Tamanaha; he kept to himself and didn't say much. He mainly buried himself in his work until one early evening when we arrived to clean his parking lot; I overheard him speaking with my father. "This new security guard is alright, but I miss Jeshua. He was a good man."

"He was," my father replied. "We all miss him."

"Jeshua reminded me of my older brother Kazuo," Mr. Tamanaha began. "He looked just like that, big, wide, scary, but gentle and kind. I love all my brothers, but when Kazuo and my other brother Tama died in the war, my world fell apart, just like now."

"I'm sorry to hear that," my father said. "If you need us to do anything, just let us know."

"There is one thing," Mr. Tamanaha began. "You know one Kahuna or something can bless my store and parking lot?"

"Yes, I know of one," my father answered. "Is something wrong?"

Mr. Tamanaha seemed hesitant to reply, but when he did, it was in a low tone. "You know those Johnny Yumas? They have been telling me that some punks show up, all scared, white a sheet, babbling something about a big dark shadow chasing them out of my parking lot. Now, this is the very same kind punks come ova hea and make trouble, you know?"

"What?" My father replied. "Is that for real?"

"The cops said it's happened a lot," Mr. Tamanaha confirmed.

My father got a hold of his brother, my uncle, who was trained as a Kahuna by my tūtū man, my father's father. My father wasn't interested in that kind of thing, so my uncle was the one who was chosen. Uncle Hulu showed up the next night at the Tamanaha Groceries parking lot with all of us and Mr. Tamanaha in attendance. We gathered near my uncle's green Lincoln, and right before he started the prayer, he said, "This shadow is not evil; it's protecting this place and its owner," he looked directly and Mr. Tamanaha. "It's up to you if this shadow stays or goes; only you can decide."

"Hah? What do you mean it's up to me? You're the Kahuna, right?" Mr. Tamanaha was scared and very incredulous.

"This shadow is attached to you; it knows you, and you know it," my uncle spoke matter of fact. "In life, it protected this place."

"Jeshua," Mr. Tamanaha choked on the name. "Jeshua is still here?"

"What do you want to do, sir?" My uncle asked again. "He is asking, not me. He will do what you want."

"Oh well, I want him to stay because I miss him so much," Mr. Tamanaha cried. "But I want him to go too and be happy with his wife."

"His wife is in Samoa, tied to her family lands, he says,"  Uncle Hulu pointed to the far end of the parking lot where a massive shadow emerged from under one of the many money trees. "He doesn't mind staying here but wants to hear it from you."

It took a beat before Mr. Tamanaha replied. "Stay, Jeshua,"

So, Jeshua's spirit stayed. It's been all these years, and I'm nearing sixty myself. Mr. Tamanaha's old grocery store is long gone, just as he is. I've seen the basic structure of the store in that exact location, but I never bothered to check the place out. I haven't had the time as of late because of how busy things have been, but curiosity still lingers. Is Jeshua still there? And is his old friend Mr. Tamanaha with him?

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