Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 11, 2022

Nalowale 2022

When my brother disappeared in Moanalua valley fifty some odd years ago, there was no fanfare on social media, no plastering of his face all over the place.

Instead, my parents and I were hiking up in and around the valley daily to look for Chad. We never found him. We had a lovely little ceremony for him where we brought his favorite drink and food and sat at the head of the trail in rememberance of him. We did this until my father died; then, it was just my mother and me until she passed. Now, it's just me. I leave my family out of it, but luckily, they understand. He liked fried noodles with two fried eggs on top with ketchup and musubi and then his favorite Royal Crown Cola to wash it down. This morning after having the meal, I decided to walk up the trail, which was good because it was crowded with people, so I had nothing to worry about.

I cried a lot going to and from. When I was done, I walked the entire way down Ala Aolani until I got to my car, which was parked on the side of the road. Layed out on the hood of my car was a sweatshirt with the 'Keep On Truckin" logo on the front. All over it was signatures of people written in ballpoint pen and markers. Next to it was a pair of linen Vilegrequin Bermuda shorts with skinny vertical stripes, and next to that was a pair of what we used to call hippie slippers or Jesus sandals. Those belonged to Chad because he wrote his name on every article of clothing he owned. His name was written on the cuff of his sweater and the hem of his shorts and scratched on the side of his sandals. It belonged to him, but it was brand new like he had just purchased it off the shelf from the old Coronets store. I got home a short time later when I heard a ping from my PC in the living room. Someone requested a video chat on messenger; I was shocked to see the name Sandy Grism. She was Chad's old girlfriend back in the day. She had terrible luck with relationships after my brother went missing. After high school, she married Alan Johnson and divorced him two years later. Two years later, she married John Bermudes and divorced him in less than a year. Her third time around, she nearly married a Jehovah's witness enthusiast until she realized she was in it purely for lust. Finally, she decided not to put herself through another pointless union of matrimony. That was until she met the craps dealer at the California Hotel in Vegas and married him the following day.

 "When that ended up not working out," she said. "I quickly divorced that guy and stuck to my maiden name, Grism. I'm happy now than I've ever been,"

"Wow," I replied. "I don't know what to say,"

"Ah, it's just one of those things," she shrugged. "Anway, I contacted you because let me show you." She reached down to grab something from what I could hear was a paper bag, and then she sat up and held it to the screen. "It's Chad's old Panasonic radio, except it's brand new; I mean, look on the side," she turned the handheld radio to its side so I could see it. "It's his name written on it."

"Here," I replied. "Let me show you this," I held up his sweater, shorts, and Jesus sandals. "I found this on my car's hood after returning from the hiking trail this morning."

"This was on my bed after I returned from taking a shower," she replied. "And here, listen; no matter what station I turn it to, it plays the same song." she turned to every radio station on the dial, and she was right. The same song that happened to be Chad's favorite, Lodi by CCR. John Fogerty sang about a town he could never escape even though he was just passing through. "What the fuck is going on? Is it Chad's ghost trying to communicate after all this time?"

"No idea," I said. "Do you wanna meet someplace, so we can talk?"

"Yeah, sure," she agreed. "Where do you live now?"

"Same place in Kalihi," I told her. 

"I'm behind Pearl Ridge; how's Anna Millers?"

"Can," I said. "In an hour?"


An hour later, Sandy and I were seated toward the back at Anna Miller's just past the counter. "The weirdest thing happened on the way here," I leaned across the table. "I was driving past Moanalua Kaiser, and my car radio went crazy; it kept playing all those old songs from 72."

"What do you think we should do?" Sandy asked.

"I think we need to hike that trail at Moanalua," I told her. "That's the only way we'll find an answer."

"Can we go first thing tomorrow?" She asked. "I'm not exactly dressed for a hike tonight."

She removed Chad's old Panasonic from her bag and handed it to me. It was brand new, with a red leather cover over it. I opened the back cover and saw the old red and blue EverReady batteries sitting in its compartment. I turned it on, and it was the same CCR song on all the channels as Sandy said. "Fucking thing," I got choked up finally, after everything. "He never told me why he loved this song so much, but there was something about it that resonated with him."

"I know why," Sandy looked at me. "Chad was always worried that no matter what he would do in life, he'd never be able to leave Hawai'i. He had this wanderlust to travel and see places, but he knew he'd never do it if he remained here."

"That's kinda mature for a fifteen-year-old kid," I was surprised to hear this.

"Chad was the only sure thing I had," Sandy began to cry. "He was my rock; I trusted him not just cause he was my boyfriend but because he was always dependable. He didn't like that your folks had his whole future planned out for him because he had his own plans and ideas."

"Stuck in Lodi," I shook my head. "I was with him every day, and my five-year-old brain had no clue."


Three tables away sat Chad Akui, who was a sophomore at Moanalua High School when it was first established in 1972. By 1975 he would have been a member of its first graduating class, but unfortunately, he'd vanished while hiking in the valley. Now sixty-five years old, sitting with his wife and children after a life of traveling from military base to military base, Chad retired to Hawai'i. Knowing that it might be pointless to re-establish a relationship with the family he ran away from to carve out his own future, he decided to leave them clues instead. That way, they could connect again and keep the Chad they once knew alive and healthy. 

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