Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 26, 2022

New Punk 2022

 The little cracked seed store in Ala Moana was never for a moment dull.

It was always crowded, and the ladies who ran it were friendly, but no none sense when they had to be. My favorite was the wet li hing mui. I could never get enough of it, which is why I always got it before my bus ride home to Waipahu. Waipahu was another matter entirely. The Waipahu I grew up in was not the Waipahu we all know today, scarred by a monorail right down the middle. Overcrowded neighborhoods filled with matchbox houses and the loss of its plantation-styled community. All of us who grew up there and were trying to buck those old-time traditions are now in our 60s' bemoaning the loss of that nostalgia. There weren't as many homeless in Waipahu as there are now. Today, they are their own community. In my time, there were one or two homeless, and everyone knew them by name.

There was Randy, who hung out at the old Waipahu Theater. There was Manny Catito, who every one of us was afraid of because our parents used him as the boogeyman to scare us. You could talk to them and tell them to go away if they were being too weird or troublesome, and they would go. One such person was a new punk in the area who would have his friend pull up and random bus stops and try to hijack someone for their wallet or purse. One afternoon, I waited at the bus stop next to the old Nabarette store on Waipahu Depot Road. I still had a quarter pound of the wet li-hung mui left, and I was having a few when the new punk pulled up in his friend's car. Let me explain that the new punk always rode shotgun. His friend did the driving and stayed in the car during the hijacking. This time was no different, except no one at the bus stop that day was in the mood to be robbed.

Who knew that collectively, we'd all had a bad day? Lori Mikuni was seething at the fact that her husband took the car to work, knowing she needed to get to her doctor's appointment. Did she have cancer, or did they misdiagnose the condition? Lori had definitely misdiagnosed who she thought her husband was. Theodore Cabico had given his whole life to the sugar mill, saved money to send home to his parents and siblings in the Philippines, and put away a good amount of dollars for himself. Without his knowledge, his wife had taken out a loan under his name, which he knew nothing about. The bill had come due, equaling the money he'd saved. He was screwed; they were going to be homeless. There wasn't even enough to fly himself back to the Philippines to live out the rest of his years with his family. He only had Estriltia, but perhaps not for long. Then there was Henry Ayau, who was very much like his late father, no-nonsense and to the point. At his state job, his boss's underling had set him up to take the fall for something oversight that never happened. It was jealousy and hurt feelings because Henry spoke his mind. Standing at the bus stop, Henry was trying to decide if he would just beat the guy up or kill him. He wasn't going to figure it out until he got to work. Then there was me, seething over the fact that at our mother's open casket services, my older sister removed every piece of jewelry from my mother's dead body, put it in her pocket, and walked out. I wasn't going to her place to ask her to return the jewelry or demand that she do so; I was going there to kill her. 

And there you have it. Four people were about to be hijacked by the new punk in town; we happened to be the wrong four people to fuck with on that calm March Morning in 1981. The bondo'd out 70 Z-28 pulled up, literally burping and farting. The new punk got out and approached Henry, demanding money. Henry said no, and the new punk demanded a search take. He went to stick his hand in Henry's pants pocket, and Henry cleaned him out with one punch, but he didn't stop there. The new punk got to his feet, knees wobbly and eyes glassy. He lunged toward Henry, who then kicked him in the nuts. The new punk doubled over, and Henry unintentionally threw the new punk toward us. He bumped Lori Mikuni and nearly knocked her over. Enraged, Lori took off her heels and began hitting the new punk over the head. Theodore kicked him in the ribs again and again. All I did was step on his head to keep him from moving while everybody else had a go at him. The new punk's friend took off and left him for dead. I'll say that when the cops arrived, the witnesses vouched for us, saying that the new punk tried to hijack us with a knife. There was no knife, but mister Nabarette who owned the store was nice enough to provide his own knife after he cleaned it off and put it in the new punk's hand. After, the new punk was never seen in Waipahu again. 

That's the Waipahu I grew up in. I miss those days.

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