Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Dec 22, 2022

ʻAina Awakea 2022

Uncle Tiny, aunty Rita, and Tabby were out shopping for the weekend stay at the beach house.

The Rizal brothers would join up later once they returned from tying up some loose business ends on Maui. So today, it's Boy and Ivan taking a break from a case that was a misunderstanding and not a curse. An elderly woman was sure that her caregiver was trying to over-medicate her, thus causing her death, so she could take her money. Really, the caregiver had just changed the medication dosage because the initial dose caused the elderly woman to sleep for too long. However, Mrs. Kaye Leong insisted that her caregiver Kelly had it in for her. To her credit, the young nurse removed a small pair of scissors from her purse and cut off a lock of her hair. "See, Mrs. Leong? If it turns out that I am trying to steal from you, Mr. Napualawa has some of my hair, and he can curse me right away, see?" She placed her hair in a sheet of kleenex and handed it to him. "There, see?"

"Huh, ok, ok," Mrs. Leong agreed. "So you should die right now, then?"

"Not right now, Mrs. Leong," Boy tried not to laugh for fear that it would upset the old woman. "Only if and when it's determined that she is stealing, which we have determined that she is not," 

"Mrs. Leong, why don't you like Kelly? She's your nurse; she takes good care of you," Ivan asked.

"Ah, you know Hawaiians, they still mad they have no land, so they try to steal from everybody else," Mr. Leong scoffed. 

"Kelly is my great granddaughter; I can assure you she is the best nurse you can have. She will protect you or anyone with her life," Ivan said. "Your children are all on the mainland, your husband is long gone, and your parents and siblings have all passed away. So all you have is Kelly now. She may not be your family, but she is the closest to a family. You're not young anymore, Kay, you've got health problems, and your mind is slipping away slowly. Don't you want to live these remaining years in peace and worry-free?"

"Why, yes, of course," Mrs. Leong replied.

"Then don't worry about what you have, but worry about what you have left, and that's time, but you don't have much of it," Ivan looked at his great-granddaughter and nodded.

"Something to think about," Mrs. Leong nodded. Kelly stood up and hugged her great-grandfather and Boy. Then, standing behind the elderly woman's wheelchair, Kelly pushed the old woman out of the office and thanked the two men for their time.


Boy and Ivan sat at the Korean restaurant enjoying their meal. The owners and the servers took good care of Boy because he helped save the restaurant from extortionists trying to strong-arm the husband and wife who opened the establishment. Plates of food filled the table, and the water and soft drinks kept being refilled. "You've got a great-granddaughter, but we all know you never married," Boy said to his uncle.

"You don't know everything," Ivan laughed. 

"I'm not going to ask," Boy chuckled. "If you tell me, you tell me."

Ivan leaned back in his chair with a fork in one hand and a steak knife in the other, chewing the remnants of his meat-jun and rice; he took a deep breath and exhaled. "I went through a nasty patch when I got home from Vietnam. It was awful; your uncle Tiny ended up saving me. Let's just say that I broke an old girlfriend's heart in the process. She waited for me to return from the war, and when I did get back, I shunned her; I didn't want anything to do with her. It's mainly because of how messed up I was from the war. Well, after Tiny saved my ass, I went and found Anne. That was her name; it took a while for her to forgive me, but we flew off to Tijuana and got married. We had a boy later, Thomas," Ivan leaned forward, his arms folded on the table, his eyes moving back and forth. "I have to give Anne a lot of credit, she tried her best, but in the end, she couldn't cope with my PTSD and all the flashbacks. One day, she and Thomas were gone. Back then, people left notes, not texts and DMs like today. Anyway, that's the story,"

"So, Kelly is...?" Boy asked.

"From Thomas," Ivan nodded. "Kelly showed up one day and introduced herself. She came to Hawai'i on her own to find me,"

"What about your son?" Boy asked.

"There's nothing there, but thankfully no one stopped Kelly from trying to find me," Ivan said.

"You learn something new every day," Boy mused. "I'll keep this between us, uncle Ivan. You have my word,"

Ivan reached across the table and patted Boy on the shoulder. "You've been like a son to me; that's why I give you such a hard time because I love you,"

"I love you, uncle Ivan," Boy grabbed his uncle's hand and held it tight. "I better let go before people think we're holding hands for the wrong reason,"

"We hardly get to do this," Ivan mentioned. 

"Do what?" Boy asked.

"Spend time like this, just you and me," Ivan replied. "We should do it more often."

Ivan dove back into his meat-jun, pickled horse reddish, and king kalbi. The lunch rush was now, and the place was packed and filled with the noise of clanging dishes, exciting conversations, and waitresses calling out food orders to the cooks. In the middle of it sat two Hawaiian men with their coats dropped over the backs of their chairs, their neckties tucked into their shirts, and their appetites fulfilling their hunger. When they were done, the owners sent the two men off with more food to take back to the office. 

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