Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 1, 2022

#106 2022

 My life is like swimming in the shallow end of a pool, where I was too afraid to venture anywhere profound because I’d gotten used to the life that I was told I was supposed to have. 

I was conditioned to not hope for anything more; if I tried, I would only end up drowning in my own disappointment. Fran was like a predator who came out of the pool's deep end because she picked up the scent of blood in the shallows. Combine that with the electronic vibrations of a fish in distress, and it becomes like an invitation to partake in the main menu at Bubba Gumps.




We have a system in our little state office off of Punchbowl street. The system is that you work in your cubicle and mind your own business. If you can rise above the gossip mongers at the water cooler and kiss your immediate supervisor's ass short of it getting weird, then you’re on the right track. Sure, you won’t be able to walk down the street to the lunch wagons with your workmates and enjoy a meal together, but that’s a plus! It means that no one will bother you, and they’ll leave you alone. My little cubicle is simple; there are laptops, a printer, pens and pencils, and a file drawer. I don’t have any quirky trinkets or posters hanging in my little space, which are supposed to indicate my personality. I don’t want anyone to know who I am or try to figure me out; I just want to do my part and play Pokemon after work. Oh yes, I should mention that my favorite place to hide out for lunch is in a medium-sized room, #106. It was our old office long before I was hired to work here. Rumor has it that it's haunted because many of the former workers in that office who died would return to work shortly after their demise. My supervisor once said that it was the first unofficial state worker ghost epidemic. They locked the doors to #106 one day and left the office just the way it was. I, of course, managed to come across the keys to that very office when a custodian left her cleaning cart out in the lobby. The keys had an orange piece of electrical tape on it marked, ‘Ghost Office’ she never noticed that it was gone. I’m not sure why the custodian was ever in possession of those keys because she never entered that room.

For some reason, when I take my lunches in #106, the ghosts of those former workers don’t even notice my presence. They just sit at their desks and continue their menial humdrum jobs in very much the same way they did when they were corporeal. That will more than likely be me still locked into my little cubicle when I’m gone. The only way I’ll be spared from this fate is if I get moved up to supervisor like all the other ass kissers…..but wait….where do state supervisors go after they die?

Fran Tula was hired in my same division one day, and I didn’t really know that until she and her perky personality popped into my cubicle unannounced. She was a Portuguese woman who married a Samoan man, and she was the epitome of light and happiness, and I hated her immediately.

“Good morning, I’m Fran! I’m just going around saying hello to everybody! I just got hired, and I’m new here, so I hope to see you around?” Oh my god, look at that big smile and those green eyes with that silky blonde hair. I didn’t bother to get up; I just extended my hand for a handshake. She grasped it and pulled me into her for a hug while I was still in my swivel chair. “Oh, I can feel your aura…such dull colors….I’m a Reiki master, so if you come to see me sometime, I can help energize your aura!”

“No thanks,” I imagine my curt response probably burst her balloon when I pulled away from her, but so what? That’s what it was meant to do. I don’t even know who she is, and she invades my space and threatens to energize my aura?

The nerve.



The following month was filled with her bubbly personality and affirmations for anyone who’d listen, including my supervisor. I had yet to be offered a supervisory position for all the ass-kissing I did in the years that I’ve worked in this office. In less than three months, Fran got the promotion over me, and I’ve been here for nineteen years. What the actual fuck? At lunch, I sat in the old office with my ghostly friends and wolfed down my rice and natto with such aggressiveness that I didn’t notice Fran seated in the back of the room on an old chair next to a desk that’s never been occupied by a human being or a ghost. She violated my space once again! Immediately I stood up to leave, but even before I could reach the door, I heard her voice, “I’m sorry……I thought I was the only one in here.”

She was crying; her eyes were red, as was her face. Were her eyes a more greenish-yellow? Even in the dull light of this old room, her hair seemed to glow. I glanced around at my ghostly friends, who were oblivious to the both of us. We were at opposite ends of the room in very much the same way we were at opposite ends of the proverbial swimming pool. Somehow she sensed the electric vibrations of my stress, and in less than a few seconds, she’d come across the room and was crying in my arms. I released myself from her grip and pushed her away, but she grabbed me back and kissed me long and deep. Of all the places to have sex, it would have to be in an abandoned office filled with the residual ghosts of dead state workers.



Her story was that her husband called her right after she got the promotion and told her he no longer loved her. While on the phone with her husband, a sheriff walked into her office and presented her with the divorce papers. She was devastated and needed somewhere to cry in private. Her claim was that she’d found #106 purely by accident and that the door was open. That’s a lie because I’m the only one with the keys. However, she’d just given me the most athletic sex I’d ever had, so needless to say, I was not in my right mind. As you can already guess, these meetings during lunch went on for the better part of two months. I know, I know, I’ve betrayed my whole routine and my entire mindset. I’m so pathetic.

One afternoon, leaving the office after a long day, I decided to walk over to the Subway on the other side of Cafe Julia. I had come down Richard street, just where Hotel street intersects behind the palace. I caught it purely by glancing at the driver’s side mirror of a parked car I was about to pass. Something about it caught my attention: a couple locked deeply in a passionate kiss. I passed right by the car and saw that it was my supervisor and Fran. I had to stop and do a double-take just to be sure…….it was them. They were too caught up in what they were doing to notice me, but it was them for sure. It didn’t hit me until I returned to my office cubicle. I must have been sitting in the dark for a while, just taking it all in. I wasn’t sure what I felt about what I saw or if I should feel anything at all? That’s when I heard the front door open. A moment later, I heard the voices of two people talking; it was Fran and my supervisor. Such a romantic tone to their conversation filled with giggles and soft cooing noises. They’re talking about everything and nothing; it all seems so magical now, so new and fresh, the world is their apple, and their senses are alive and on fire and fuck them.



The time was precisely 8:59 am when Fran’s husband, Tui, walked through the front door of our office very calmly. On the one hand, he had a gun, in the other was his phone, which had a picture that was sent to his e-mail from someone in this office. It was a picture of Fran and the man she was having an affair with. The frantic gossip I overheard from the women in the cubicle next to mine was that Fran told everyone, including our supervisor, about a sheriff serving her divorce papers on behalf of her husband. There was no divorce; I only went by what Fran told me. I never actually saw a sheriff walk into our office, and I never bothered to ask any of my co-workers if they saw a sheriff on that day, either. It was too late to verify the facts at that point. I grabbed my laptop, stuffed it in my bag, and made my way down the back stairs to the street entrance behind our building. I came around and ran down Punchbowl street to pass the front stairs of my office just in time to witness Fran and my supervisor running down the front steps for their lives. Tui Tula was right behind the two of them and shot them dead. Their bodies tumbled down the stairs like rag dolls until they ended up like a macabre tableau out of a graphic novel. Tui and I locked eyes at that moment, and I put my hands up and calmly said, “I didn’t see anything.”

“You work in this fucking building? Cause if you do, I’ll kill you too!” He screamed.

“No.” I lied. “That’s a state building; I’m City and County….we’re the nice guys.”

I’ll never forget his face; there was pain, anger, and regret. He put the gun under his chin first and changed his mind. He put it up against his temple and changed his mind again. Then he put it in his mouth and changed his mind one last time before he pointed the weapon to his eye and pulled the trigger.



The division offered me the supervisor's job after the whole incident. It wasn’t because of my expert ass-kissing but because of my seniority. Really? My seniority? I passed it up and told them that Jodi Hirata, who worked on the other side of my cubicle, was better suited for the job because of her patience and her temperament. I told division that I was okay right where I was and left it at that. In response to my honesty, they gave me a raise. You guessed it right if you thought that I was going to end this story with me sitting in the abandoned office #106 with the residual ghosts of state workers and that of Fran and my supervisor.

I’d thought to do the same thing too, but then I thought about Fran’s husband, Tui, and what life must have been like at home? Did Fran keep up the charade and act as if nothing were wrong, or did she suddenly become aloof and distant? Did it get worse as time went on? What I mean by worse is that did she make Tui feel like everything was his fault and that he wasn’t doing enough for their life and marriage? I found out that Tui owned a successful construction company and that technically Fran should not have wanted for anything. But when you have everything in excess, sometimes everything isn’t enough, and you think you need more. Sometimes people have a deep well of needs that can never be fulfilled because they’ve been conditioned to believe that happiness is external. Buddhists believe that satisfaction is internal and that all of life’s answers are contained within the humble frame of our own earthly bodies. At least, that's what I heard.

Oh yeah…….I dodged the bullet on that one, for sure….I mean literally. I’m probably a more significant piece of shit than my supervisor for sure, and if there is really a hell for me other than haunting #106 for all eternity, it would more than likely be in accounts receivable.

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