Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

May 31, 2023



My brother Kili was allergic to peanuts, so none of those products could be in our house.

One day we were over at Kevin Toguchi's house, hanging out and sharing sandwiches we brought along because our mom wouldn't let us go empty-handed to any of our friends' houses. Kevin's mom made sushi when we arrived, so we had a packed lunch. After a while, Kevin's mom came out with a jar of peanut butter with a spoon and told Kevin to feed it to their dog. The dog seemed to like Kili, so Kevin handed my brother the spoon and let the dog lick the peanut butter off the spoon. In the meantime, Kevin brought out his Gundam collection, and we were both looking at it when I heard Kili, "Buh-buh," that was what he called me. "I don't feel so good,"

His eyes were swollen shut, and so was his nose. There was peanut butter on his lips and fingers. I hoisted him over my shoulders and ran back to our house. The second I saw our fence, I started screaming for my mom. Bursting into the kitchen and running into the living room, I put Kevin on the couch. I kept screaming for my mom, but she didn't reply. My heart sank when I saw her car wasn't in the driveway. Only Mom knew what to do, but she wasn't home. I tried everything I could; I gave Kili water to drink. I took him upstairs, gave him a shower, and wrapped him in blankets, but nothing my nine-year-old mind devised seemed to work. It only got worse. I don't know when Mom finally returned, but it was too late. Kili was gone.

I had to go live with my grandparents after that. Mom couldn't stand the sight of me because it only reminded her of Kili, and she blamed me for it. "You may as well have killed your brother yourself," she'd say. She said it often enough that it began to worry my father, so I was ferried off to Kaimuki for my safety and well-being. My father came to see me on birthdays, holidays, and for my high school and college graduation. Eventually, my parents had another baby. A girl they named Kamela, the Hawaiianized name for Pamela, after my mom. I never got to meet her because mom forbade my father to bring to see me for fear that her fucking murderer of a son would also kill his sister too. Her words, not mine. My wedding also saw only my father attending. At that point, my grandparents let Mom know, before she could say anything, that she was not welcome at my wedding. 

"For god's sake," my Papa said. "It was a goddammed accident! Patrick loved his brother! How can you hate your own son for something that wasn't his fault?"

"It kinda was my fault, Papa," I rubbed his shoulders. "I should have been paying attention, and I wasn't. I was too fascinated by my friend Kevin's new toy,"

"We already know the story Patrick," Grandma piped in. "Gosh knows we miss Kili, but it's time to get over it,"


Kevin Toguchi got off the phone and ran down the hallway to the kitchen, where his mom was preparing sushi rolls. "Mama, tomodachi ga kuru yo! My friends are coming over!"

"So desu ka?" Kevin's mother replied. "Is that so?"

"Hai! Karera wa sandoitchi o motte kite imasu!" Kevin replied excitedly. "They're bringing sandwiches!"

"Gakkō no nihonjin no tomodachi wa dokodesu ka?" Kevin's mother asked. "Where are your Japanese friends from school?"

"Their parents won't let them play with me because we're from Kansai, and they are from Tokyo," Kevin replied.

When Patrick and his little brother Kili came over, they ate sushi and ham and cheese sandwiches at the kitchen table. Kevin's mother served them glasses of iced tea and rice crackers. 

"My favorite is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," Patrick told Kevin. "But I can't eat that in front of Kili; he's allergic,"

"What does allergic mean?" Kevin asked.

"If he eats peanut butter, his face will swell up, and so will his throat, and then he'll suffocate and die," Patrick said while taking a bite of sushi. "This is really good!"

Out of curiosity, when it came time to feed the dog spoons full of peanut butter, Kevin handed it over to Kili to see what would happen. Patrick was right; Kili got all swollen up and died later that day. 

Kevin's parents have long since passed away. Today, in 2023, Kevin still lives in the house he grew up in but more as a hoarder than a resident. He hardly goes anywhere if he doesn't have to. Mainly, he hoards whatever he can to block all possible pathways in his house so that Kili's spirit, with its swollen face and bile mixed with peanut butter around his mouth, can't follow him anywhere.

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