Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 28, 2022

Keahinui 2022


All the money ran out.

There was no way to recover, and as understanding as the landlord was, his hands were tied. Collin had to move out. He began selling and giving away anything he couldn't take. That meant his couch, his table, his rug. Everything else got packed into his SUV. Sure, he had a job, but the raise he was promised was just something they used to string him along, and then they fired him. He had to find a place to park his car and sleep safely overnight. His aunt allowed him to come over to shower and clean up, but she wouldn't let him stay. 

"Tough love," she told him."You'll thank me later,"

He couldn't argue the point; she had the upper hand. So he found a job at the Golden Arches and made no complaints about anything. He kept his head down, worked hard, and took any shift. The manager noticed that Collin was living out of his car, so he sold him his camper. That way, he had a working bathroom, shower, and microwave. Since Collin's SUV had a trailer hitch, which could hold the camper, no one could spread rumors about him being a crackhead or pedophile. As a rule of thumb, Collin did not allow any fellow employees in the camper at any time. It was something the manager appreciated, and it prevented awkward situations from taking place. One night, after Collin finished his shift. He was sitting outside his camper in a fold-out chair he got from Walmart. The line in the drive-thru was sparse. Two cars here, a single car there. A line of ten vehicles and then nothing for an hour or so. A customer shouting at the drive-thru speaker is what caught his attention.

"Three hashbrowns!" He screamed.

"Sir, we only serve hashbrowns during breakfast, which will not start for another four hours," Collin recognized Momi's voice. Always calm and soothing, but in situations like this, it could change in a second and cut you to pieces. 

"Why you no say that in the first place, bitch!" The man in his Crown Vic bellowed. Silence permeated the air. There was no response from Momi. She'd exited the store and marched straight toward the rude man in the car. She inserted half her torso in the driver's side window. There was no shouting, screaming, or physical altercation. Instead, Momi walked back into the store, and the rude man in the car drove away with no hash browns or dignity. Collin found out later that Momi stuck her head in the window, grabbed the rude man by his balls, and squeezed with everything she had. That man never came back again. Aside from the altercation, Collin saw an old woman from across the parking lot staring at him. Collin was very old school for a young man who was not yet in his mid-thirties. When he saw the old woman, he exited his chair and walked over to her.

"Mama, are you okay? Are you hungry? Do you need a blanket or anything?"

"No, no, I'm fine," she assured him. "Thank you for asking, but I'm just out on a late evening walk. I saw your camper, and it reminded me of a time when people would do the same thing in this place." 

"You mean camp overnight?" Collin asked. 

"Even before the paniolo," she said. Her voice was intense; there was an underlying power to it. Not like Momi's, but like his grandparents, but more. "The people before them, the real Hawaiians. They were all here in this very place."

"What were they doing here?" Collin asked.

"Waiting," she smiled at the young man. "Like you, your life is on hold, but it will get better, and you'll remember these times. If you're here tomorrow, I'll be back,"

"Sure," Collin smiled. "I'll be here,"

The following evening at midnight, Collin roused himself from the bed in his camper, brushed his teeth, combed his hair, and went to the drive-thru to order food for himself and the Hawaiian lady who would soon be there. He waited another few minutes and was suddenly taken by the appearance of a red glow in the uplands. It was Mauna Loa; it finally happened after many iterations regarding the various predicted eruption times. It was now doing exactly that. In a second, the old Hawaiian woman was standing next to Collin. "A beautiful vision in the depths of night, don't you think so?"

"It's beautiful," Colling agreed."Come, mama, sit. Let's eat," folding out a chair for the elderly Hawaiian woman; the two sat and participated in a meal and enjoyed their conversation as the red glow served as a subject of their discussion. 

"What brought you to this point in your life?" The old Hawaiian woman asked.

Collin explained his plight, never once feeling sorry for himself but explaining that the circumstances he created caused him to become homeless. "But, I've never felt more at home with myself than now. What about you, mama? What is your story?"

Pointing toward the fiery red glow at Mauna Loa, the old Hawaiian woman said, "You're looking at my story."

"How do you mean?" Collin asked.

"Look up the word, 'Kūkaʻai,' and you will understand," the old Hawaiian woman explained. The next thing Collin knew, he was lying in bed, and it was already ten in the morning. His shift was about to start in half an hour. The store was swamped for most of the day; people were either trying to get up as close as possible to Mauna Loa or coming back from it. During his break, Collin looked up the word 'Kūkaʻai' on his phone. After reading it, he shook his head and chuckled to himself,

"Of course, who else could it have been but Pele?"

Credit: The Independent

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