Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Dec 23, 2022

Rita 2022

Boy sat in the kitchen with aunty Rita peeling potatoes while she worked on the deviled eggs, which is one of his favorite dishes that Rita made.

Uncle Tiny lumbered into the kitchen and began picking at some of the foods that were already out on the counter. He piled grapes, a few green olives, and some luncheon meat between two pieces of stale bread and began eating it. Tabby was behind her great-uncle and grabbed a Pepsi and a bag of chips. Manny Rizal tried to squeeze between everyone to grab a six-pack of flavored seltzer water. "Sorry, boss, this is for Mr. Ivan. He said he's thirsty,"

"Don't apologize to me; apologies are due to aunty Rita; she's the boss in the kitchen. I'm just peeling potatoes," Boy made a face at Manny, indicating that he should get out of the kitchen if he knew what was good for him.

"Manny, also take that big plastic container with the spinach leaf salad and papaya dressing; Ivan has to have his greens now. Take some potatoes, too; you and your brothers can help peel." Rita instructed. "Tabby, you should drink peach iced tea like the rest of us, but it's your complexion. Do whatever you want,"

"Geeze, mama Rita," Sheepishly, Tabby left the kitchen with her ego slightly bruised. 

Boy kept his head down, continuing to peel potatoes because only one person in the kitchen was silent and taking up a lot of space. Then, surprised at how well the mix of his sandwich creation was, Tiny grabbed more of the same and made another one with the same loaf of stale bread. Tiny made loud breathy noises while he chewed on his sandwich. Rita turned to Tiny, regarded him for a few seconds, and said, "Would you mind not breathing down my neck while chewing on that monstrosity you call a sandwich?"

Tiny grabbed a glass of peach iced tea and swallowed it all in one gulp. Then he dabbed away the crumbs from his cheek and around his mouth. Also, regarding Rita in the same way, she just regarded him; he grabbed her around the waist and planted a long kiss on her. Boy being the man who was always in control, was now speechless and did not want to see what would transpire once Rita let loose with her anger. Uncle Tiny had crossed the line. When he let up and took a step back, not caring what Rita's reaction was going to be, Tiny saw in her eyes a flash of all the hurt in her life coming to the surface, and then came the anger, which was what he was expecting. What she said to him was not what he was ready for. It was something primal that surfaced from the bottom of her soul.

"Oh, you faka,"

She grabbed Tiny around the back of his neck and pulled him down to her, kissing him right back. Slow and deep, taking her time, not at all rushing. Running her hands all over his body, and he returning the favor, made Boy very uncomfortable. Putting the potato peeler and the potatoes down, Boy exited the kitchen. Entering the living room, everyone could see that Boy's face was flush, and he looked uncomfortable. "What's wrong, dad?" Tabby asked.

"Nothing," Boy replied. "Just needed a break from potato peeling,"

"Oh yes," Manny remembered. "We better get in there and help with the potatoes," Manny motioned to his brothers.

"Ah no, no," Boy put his hand out. "Maybe stay out of the kitchen for a bit,"

"It's fine," aunty Rita appeared behind Boy, straightening out her skirt and fixing her hair. "You can go peel the rest of those potatoes."

Tiny appeared behind Rita, he tried to move past her, but to his surprise, she grabbed him again and kissed him longer and more profoundly than a minute ago. The room fell into a state of shock. Two mortal enemies who were always going at each other, and now everyone knew why. When it was finally over, Rita returned to the kitchen, and Tiny returned to his seat next to Ivan. No one said anything because no one knew what to say. Even at the dinner table, while the Christmas turkey was being carved, everyone noticed that Tiny and Rita sat at opposite ends of the table, but no one said a word. There was small talk here and there, and the food was excellent. In the end, everyone helped clean up and then retired to the living room to half-watch what was on TV and suffer the lethargic effects of such an excellent Christmas dinner. Tiny tried paying attention to what was happening in the movie he was watching, but he could feel Ivan staring at him.

"What?" Tiny was irritable.

"After all these years, you're finally over it," Ivan asked.

"Yeah," Tiny nodded. "I guess I am; I guess I was ready."

Ivan nodded and said nothing more. With the kitchen all cleaned up, Rita came into the living room with a giant bowl of popcorn and kaki-mochi. Placing the bowl in the middle of the large couch for everyone to partake from, Rita curled up on Tiny's lap and watched the program along with him. No one said a word, but the bond of the 'ohana became stronger that night. Boy was happy for his uncle Tiny and his Aunty Rita. It was the happiness they both needed and deserved.*

*Ivan and Tiny are blood relatives to Boy. Rita is someone that Boy's parents saved from a curse that was sent back. In gratitude to his parents, Rita came to work in the office in support of Boy. 

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