Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 7, 2022

Friend 2022

 Fried noodles today are not like the way they were made in 1975 when you were 13 years old.

The diced-up Kamaboko was the real thing, and the minced carrots and char siu too. Like the french fries of those bygone days, it was all fried up with Crisco oil which would be considered unhealthy by today's standards but oh, how delicious! Coca-cola was the real thing, such a combo for an early breakfast and great for field trips when they placed it in the tiny pink box along with corned beef hash and a couple of cone sushi with shoyu chicken. The spirit of my old classmate Lance Shimooka paid me a visit this morning as I was on the cusp of sleep but still slowly coming to wake. He stood in my bedroom doorway in the white and blue aloha shirt he got from WigWam. Wearing his green corduroy pants with his favorite pair of kamaboko slippers caused me a bit of disorientation. Was I 13 years old again?

"We go eat before the bell rings," Lance crooked his head. "Manolo and Troy them going to be there."

"Wait, what are you doing here? In my bedroom?" I croaked with my still half-asleep voice. 

"Don't be a nerd," he took a step forward, and with one hand, he tore away my blanket and threw it on the floor. Then, he stood back and gasped, "What kinda fag bee bee dees are you wearing?"

It's 2022; I'm 60 years old, wearing a pair of orange polyester boxers. These days it's nothing, but I can imagine what it must look like to someone from 1975. "You can't say things like "Fag," anymore," I scolded him. That's when it hit me. How did Lance in my bedroom look like he did all those years ago? There could only be one explanation, I died in my sleep. I jumped out of my bed and looked at the spot where I was just sitting, expecting to see my corporeal form, but there was nothing. 

"What is this?" I asked my old friend. "Why are you here?"

"You called me," his voice cracked like it did back when we were all going through puberty. "Just before you were ready to wake up, you called me."

"How did I do that?" It would be interesting to know how I did that without any talent for ESP. 

"You remembered fried noodles from J's Okazuya on old depot road," he said.

"That's all it takes to evoke a spirit from my past, like Jacob Marley?"

"Kinda like Jacob Marley, but more local schmocal kine stuff," he confirmed. "I'm long dead; I died after eighth grade. Everybody went to Pearl City, Waipahu, or Campbell; I died."

"How did you die?" I was shocked, but that explained why he seemed to just fall off the map in 1976. 

"Run over by the food truck right outside Campbell after school," he sighed. "Had long line, and I was at the back of the line. I didn't see that the line went out to the road. I don't even know what kind of car hit me, but I died on impact. After that, I just roamed around here and there until your fried noodles dream called me. So, here I am. We go eat."

I got ready and jumped in my car with Lance's spiritual body riding shotgun. He hardly recognized anything. He became even more distraught when we arrived at our old intermediate school in Waipahu. All the old wooden classrooms that made up the entire front part of the school were gone. It was a state holiday, so the two of us could roam the campus without any trouble. He cried, Lance, did. "They're all here, all the old classmates and teachers going through a normal school day just like any other day. There's Denise Ramento, Tama Chun, and Noka!" Turning to me, his cheeks damp with tears, he said, "I think this is where I'm supposed to be, not heaven or an afterlife, but here, right here in our old school."

"I'll leave you to it then," I said. "You be good, Lance,"

"Come by once in a while, okay?" He asked. "On days like this, come by. I'll be here-oh and bring a couple of friend noodle boxes too?"

"Sure," I promised. "I can do that."

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