Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jan 2, 2023

Union Brotherhood

Believe it or not, stretches of old roads still exist on 'O'ahu, like Kiona'ole. 

There are two and a half miles of it, with cracks in the pavement and shards of weeds struggling to find life. I don't mind places like that because the job is the job, and that's what it requires. So Nolan Chang and I were assigned to Kiona'ole for as long as it took. That's how the boss put it to us like we didn't have a choice. As we went along the path, we had to remove vines, weeds, or tree branches covering the powerlines. We were privately contracted because the regular union guys were too afraid to come out here, even during the day. They believe it's haunted, and they're too scared to do the job, so here we are. I'm Lyle Galutera; that's Nola up there in the cherry picker, squealing with excitement.

"Brah, kalamungai!" He's shouting. "Can make sabao with some chicken tonight!"

"You not even Filipino," I tell him.

"My wife is," he said while pulling a few down and stuffing in his shirt.

Nolan is a good guy, but every day to and from work, he has one discrepancy that is constantly troubling his life. It's his other half, Fern. She's a burden to him, more than an asset to his life. She can't seem to do anything right. Balancing finances, raising their children, cooking, cleaning, it's all wrong. Sex appears to be the only thing she can do well without hiccups. "I always threaten her with divorce, and it's good for a little while. Then it goes right back to the old habits."

"Yeah, but when she comes by to bring your lunch, she seems sweet to me," I told Nolan once. "I can read people pretty well, and I can't tell that there's anything wrong,"

"That's cause you don't have to live with her, brah," Nolan said. "It one way in private, and one way in public,"

It rained suddenly one day, which took us by surprise. The sun was still out, and not a rain cloud filled the sky, and yet, there it was, the famous uakea rain in complete form. We found cover under a large shower tree up against a berm with an overgrown kou on top of it. Unfortunately, we didn't get as drenched as we should have. However, we had some time to kill because the rain wouldn't let up for another hour. I told Nolan that driving up and down this road at night was dangerous because potential for bad accidents was always possible. He was texting on his phone, not wholly giving me his attention.

"What you was saying?" He asked.

"Never mind," I chuckled. 

Less than a minute later, a blue Camry drove up to the gate and honked its horn once. I couldn't see who was driving, so I asked Nolan if the person in the car was his wife because she always came in a black Nissan to bring his lunch. "I going take my lunch," he got up and walked off. "See you in an hour,"

No work for today, though, the rain never let up, and Nolan never returned. Not to Kiona'ole. When I got back to the yard, he was clocking out, and there, too, was his wife in the parking lot waiting to pick him up. I waved at his wife and said nothing until the following day as we drove out to Kiona'ole. "Now, I see why you are not happy with your wife. You get side action,"

"Not side action," Nolan said. "Just somebody who understands me,"

"Your wife understands you," I told Nolan. "This other woman seems like what you want, but I tell you what, hah, you live your wife for this woman? The second, she not your side action and she becomes your wife, everything going change and not for the better,"

"Not even," Nolan waved me off. "Going be betta than what I get now,"

"Stay with your wife, Nolan," I warned him. "Otherwise, you going lose everything."

Of course, Nolan didn't listen and left his wife and kids. But, unfortunately, the year was not yet over, and Nolan married whoever the other person was after his divorce was granted. And in a short time, he began to make the same complaints about his new wife. At the same time, Nolan began to regret leaving his first wife and children. It was all he talked about even though he had a job to do; it became a constant topic of conversation. 


Over the weekend, Nolan Chang's body was found hanging from the Kou tree above the berm, where we took shelter from the rain during that one deluge. He didn't leave a note nor show signs that he'd intended to kill himself. It was a significant loss for the union brotherhood because he was a highly valued worker despite his personal problems. That's what was said publicly, but when I went to the union brotherhood to make them aware of Nolan's issues and how they began to affect his work performance, they left it up to me to rectify. So, I did. 

Nolan called me on a Saturday, needing a friendly ear. I told him I was at Kiona'ole doing some patchwork off the clock. We agreed to meet there. That was a Saturday, but early Sunday morning, his body was found by a group of errant hikers ignoring the no-trespass signs. I let the union brotherhood know that it was taken care of and that from that moment forward, could they please assign someone to me who is of the same age and temperament. Every time they give me some young punk with his heads up his ass, he always turns up dead because I'm always the one that has to kill them.

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