Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 24, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #2 Kam

I sat on the surfboard for hours, letting all the good sets pass me.

People paddling out asked me if I would join the line-up; I said no and encouraged everyone to go for it and enjoy the ride. It took everything just to be at this beach, and the effort to wax the board and get out this far was monumental. Yet, there I was, waiting. For what, I don't know, and I don't know why either. This was where we met, right here at this spot. As crystal clear as the water is, I didn't even see him come up from the surface that day. He was just there, apologizing for startling me the way he did. He introduced himself as Kam, saying that the last wave got away from him and that it tumbled him around pretty well. He got disoriented, and the next thing he knew, he surfaced right next to my board. Everything about him was so easy and natural, as was the relationship that grew between us. We spoke to each other as if we were continuing a conversation from a previous lifetime. We laughed, became serious and emotional, and laughed again, all while I sat on my surfboard, and he held himself up on it. 

"Eh! Are you guys going to get in the lineup, or are you gonna fuck? Hurry up, get oddah guys like surfing today too!' Bustah Correa was a Hawaiian-Portuguese surfer who wasn't the best, but he kept things in check so everybody could catch a wave. He didn't like bullies either, so if there was one hogging a wave or cutting in on somebody, he wait them out on the beach and then kick their asses. 

"I better get out there," I pointed to the sets coming in.

"Shoots," Kam gave me the braddah, braddah, handshake, and snap of the thumb. "I'm going in, but I talk to you after!"

It never occurred to me that he didn't have his surfboard with him.

The troubling thing about catching waves at this spot was that less than a mile or so away was a shark encounter tour from the mainland that started a business where they picked up the tourists in Waikiki on a bus and shuttled them to the north shore. It's bad business and bad juju to chum the waters for a shark encounter and never actually let the sharks feed. Once every tourist gets their shark picture, they get out of the water, get back on the bus, and head back to Waikiki. The sharks themselves are left hungry. However, nearby, there are a bunch of surfers waiting for waves to ride. So far, it's small threshers and black tips, which can be deadly. But lately, a massive tiger has been spotted cruising the area. It's made a lot of us nervous about going out. On more than one occasion, the lifeguards have had to shut the beach down because of it. One day, I was too far out to hear the air horn because of how loud the waves surged and tumbled one on top of the other. The person next to me heard it, and he also saw the flags waving from the lifeguard stand, so he yelled at me to head in, but it was too late by then. 

"You were already heading out to catch that nice one coming in," he would tell me later on the beach. "Same time you were coming down the curl, that big tiger was coming straight for you. I was yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs, waving my arms, but you were in that moment. This other bigger tiger came out of nowhere and creamed the one that was coming for you,"

"I saw that part," I told him. "I think I was just in shock,"

Usually, you get shell-shocked after something like that happens, but me? I had to go out there and just be and feel the spot where it happened, as if the whole thing was going to replay itself right in front of me. That's why I just sat on my board, trying to figure it all out. The sun was beginning to fade past the island of Kauai, and it was time to head in. Kam was hanging out near the lifeguard stand. When I saw him, I waved, and he waved back. "You look like you are thinking too hard," he laughed.

"Oh yeah," I chuckled. "A couple of days ago, I almost got taken out by this big tiger shark, but another shark showed up out of nowhere and attacked the one that was coming after me; the weirdest thing I ever saw,"

"But you didn't get attacked?" Kam asked.

"No," I shook my head. "That's the part I can't figure out,"

"No need to figure it out; just be thankful that you're still alive to share that story," Kam began. "You know it's those shark encounter tours that are causing a disruption in the flow of things. That's really why you almost got nailed. It's bringing a lot of unwanted attention to this area, like sharks who don't normally make this place their home,"

He was right; a few short days later, that same tiger shark appeared and began trying to pluck surfers right off their boards It even came in close to shore and began menacing people who were swimming in the shallows. The lifeguard hadn't even sounded the bullhorn when we all began to head back in. Kam appeared, telling us to all go back in as a group and to stay together. He appeared behind my board, encouraging me to paddle in. I wasn't sure if I could do that while he hung on to the back; that's just more effort for me to exert, but I didn't realize that he was the one pushing my board forward while kicking his legs. We were moving at a good pace when we both saw a large fin cut the water, heading straight toward our group. Kam was nowhere to be seen, but as the tiger drew closer, a second fin cut the water, making a direct line to the approaching man-eater. It turned around, cutting through water to the open ocean. An hour later, two tourists were dragged out of a shark cage by a massive tiger shark that broke through the protective bars, grabbing the husband and wife together in its monstrous jaws and finishing them off in front of the boat owner and the rest of the guests. It was a disaster that came as the result of poking the bear, as they say. Except that this wasn't a bear.

A month went by, and no one had seen Kam around. Everyone wanted to thank him for being brave enough to lead us back to safety in one piece, even in the presence of two sharks, which everyone assumed were vying for territorial rights. My friend Dean and I were sitting on our boards, talking about nothing in general, when he decided it was time to get out there and get a wave before none were left. The second he paddled away, Kam popped out of the water, scaring me. "Brah, don't freaking do that!"

"Sorry," he chuckled. "So what? You when figure 'um out already?"

I nodded my head, half accepting what I came to realize and half shitting my pants at the same time. "I wondered why I never saw you with a surfboard because it's a helluva swim back to shore. But why me? I mean, you saved us all, but why me in particular?"

"Aww, you mean you neva figure 'um out? I thought you were smart?" He shook his head, laughing and smiling.

"You mean figured out why you never made me your dinner?" I was serious.

"Braaaah, I'm your tutu! I'm your 'aumakua! Soon as that shark encounters stuff started happening here, I knew it was only a matter of time before somebody would get killed, so I had to come to make sure that it wasn't you," Kam's demeanor changed to one of a true grandparent, looking out for his mo'opuna.

"But you saved everyone else, too," I reminded him.

"Of course I did. I'm not an asshole," he scolded me. "Take care, okay? I'll be around,"

"Oh wait," I called out before he swam off. "Um, no disrespect, but what kind of 'aumakua name is Kam?"

Now smiling with his big, bright white teeth, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "Kamohoali'i,"

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