Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 26, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #4 Manawa Kupono.

I stared at shelves and shelves of old, used, borrowed books.

Thumbing through aged tomes, the aroma of knowledge transposed from hand to paper lifted the ancient dust from its pages. It was such a rich, heady smell that it made me go flush and gave me a spell of dizziness. It's easy to get lost here; entire days pass, but I always purchase stacks of books before leaving. Which is why the owners tolerate me. They know I'm here to buy, not loiter. Sometimes, and only some of the time, because I didn't want things to get uncomfortable, I'd buy them lunch or dinner without expecting a discount or anything. I always buy at the total price, no matter what. The owners ' names are Ted and Nancy, his wife. They're charming people.

I've bought books from every section of the store. I got everything from mathematic fractals to home cooking, political science, astronomy, religion, philosophy, and quantum physics. Today, I've started scratching the surface of the Hawaiian section. I began with plant life, ethnobotany, sea life, and archipelago formation. Next were myths, legends, and works by esteemed scholars and cultural practitioners. When I began reading about the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, I had to backtrack and research as much as I could about the ancient chiefs and their lineage as it came down to the Hawaiian monarchy in the 1800s. Something about that period deeply resonated with me, not to the point of obsession but to the point where I could see myself walking the streets of what is now the capital district during the time of the monarchy. I could feel the atmosphere and smell the aroma of old dirt as horse-drawn wagons clumped along, kicking up mud and manure along the way. An unexplained clarity hung in the air, and conversations of old transatlantic English reached my ears as haole people walked by, along with 'olelo Hawai'i that was too fast to catch. It was all so vivid that I'd forget I was standing in the aisle of the Hawaiian book section of Ted and Nancy's Book Emporium. I found that more often than not when I'd have these spells, I had to take a moment to breathe and try to gather my thoughts. Was I having a mental breakdown? Had I read too many books that it was now having an adverse effect on me to the point where I was hallucinating? I stayed away from the Book Emporium for a while. I guess the staff was concerned about me after having not seen me there for a few months when they called and checked up. 

"Family stuff came up, that's all," was my excuse. "I'll be back soon,"

I did go back eventually, and I had a lovely catch-up with Ted, Nancy, and the rest of the crew. When that was done, I wandered around, checking some old pieces of vinyl and comic books. I noticed a stack of books on a cart being wheeled to the Hawaiian section. Many of them were new, stuff I had yet to see. I followed the young man named Terrence, a part-timer here but working full-time at his state job during the day. 

"Hi, Mister Apana, good to see you after so long! How have you been?" He asked.

"I've been busy, thank you for asking," I said. "How about yourself?"

"Doing this," he pointed to the cart. "Which reminds me, I forgot to get the price tags! Can you watch the cart quickly until I get back, please?"

Terrence ran off in a hurry, and I began perusing through the stack when I noticed a book with Queen Lili'uokalani's name on it. I picked it up so I could see the face of the book, and that was the last thing I remembered. When I came to, I was lying on the sidewalk of Hotel Street. I stood up and realized that this was not the Hotel Street of 2023 but the Hotel Street of 1890. be continued

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