Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 30, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #8 Ten Guitars.

 The three-story structure was a shadow of what it once was when it was the old Children's Hospital.

I was a patient there for six months, having my kidneys cleaned and returning later when another sickness struck me. It's where my grandmother sat with me every day during that term. She'd depart an hour before my parents came to see me in the late afternoon. When I was well enough to go home,  my parents told me that my grandmother had died while I was in the hospital, but they couldn't bring themselves to tell me because of how sick I was. Also, it's where my friend Scotty Boyd died in the bed next to mine. Immediately after, the shadow of his spirit entreated me to go play with him from his side of the sheer partition. Had I gone, I would have joined him in the afterworld. Two cand stripers strangely stuck around one another and literally said things at the same time. A long-standing rumor said they were twin sisters who volunteered at the children's hospital. I knew when they were on duty because, from the kid's romper room, they always played their record on the stereo, ten guitars. You could hear the song filtering down the hallway. Tragically, they were killed by a speeding car one day as they crossed the street, trying to catch the bus in time. These memories came racing back and literally manifested and came running out of the front entrance of the former hospital with their arms open wide, squealing with delight, knowing that once they held me in their embrace, I'd be right back to where it all started. "No," I said, placing my hands over my ears. "No, I don't acknowledge you, I don't acknowledge you!"

They stopped dead in their tracks: my grandmother, Scotty, the candy stripers. They dramatically let their shoulders drop and affected a pouting visage. Begrudgingly, they trudged back through the automatic double doors, passing people and hospital staff who had no clue that my non-corporeal memories went right past them. "Don't come out," I hissed. "Stay there, don't you dare come back!"

They did as they were told, staying right where they were, but they followed along the windows from the inside, watching me as I drove to the back of the old children's hospital, now a rehab center. They stopped at the large back windows, which was the cafeteria. They couldn't follow because I was going to the new building to see my youngest brother, who'd recently suffered a heart attack and stroke at home. I parked in the paid parking and walked into a lobby bereft of staff, yet the lobby was filled with families waiting to see their relatives on the second floor. Unfortunately, they could only visit in twos. I filled out my information on the computer sitting next to the information window. When done, it spat out the printed name tag, allowing me to enter my brother's room. I was slightly reticent to ride the elevator alone for fear of what I might see; luckily, a couple of nurses got on, and we all departed the cart on the same floor. It was a short walk down the hallway until I found the room my brother shared with a middle-aged Chinese gentleman who was very alert and talkative. My baby brother was swollen; he wasn't the skinny little punk who followed me everywhere and constantly asked endless questions that never stopped. His hair is messy, and he looks weary, not from his medical condition but from life.

"You gonna let me have your Indian motorcycle after you die?" I deadpanned.

"Fuck your mother," he scoffed.

"We have the same mother, idiot," I condescended.

"No, we don't. You're adopted," he flipped me the bird in a twisty motion.

"You're adopted; that's why your hair naturally parts on the left," I shot back.

"I got your part right here," he grabbed his crotch with the material of his hospital gown.

"What's that? Your Vienna sausage collection?" 

"In case you didn't hear me the first time, fuck you," he waved me off.

I scooped him up and held on to him for a long while, the two of us crying. "Me before you, that's the deal, Jay," I sobbed. "Me first, then you. Not the other way around,"

"That shit's not up to us," he patted me. "We don't get to choose; when it's your time, it's your time,"

He lay back on his pillow while we both failed at maintaining our composure. I pulled up a chair next to his bed. I reached over and rubbed his arm. "What happened, man?"

"I make too much money; I got lazy and lived badly. Bad food, drinking, staying out late, stopped exercising. I knew I needed to stop, but man, I couldn't. I thought I'd live forever," he said.

We talked about everything and nothing for the next hour, laughing too loud for the staff, who had to come and shush the two of us on more than one occasion. I finally had to leave once they announced the end of visiting hours on the overhead. Our hug wasn't as intense as when I first arrived, but the love was there despite how we busted each other's balls. "Don't change your schedule around to come to see me, okay? Your family comes first; just come when you can," he said.

"I got it," I said as I began to walk out.

"Hey?" Jay called out. Walking back into his part of the room, I peeked in. "What's that song you said the candy stripers used to play on the stereo when you were here as a kid?"

"Ten guitars, why?"

"I thought I heard it this morning from somewhere. Very faint, but I thought I heard it," he said.


I saw them again leaving the rehab parking lot and driving past the former children's hospital in the front. The manifestation of the memories from my childhood. The candy stripers, just them, not the others. One held a record player, and the other placed the vinyl on it. I had the windows up, but I could hear it clearly, 

"Beneath the stars, my ten guitars will play a melody for you,"

I hit the gas and burned the blacktop, rocketing out of the parking lot and onto Kuakini. In no time, I was on the freeway, speeding past the traffic. Taking the far left lane, I sped until I was on Kalaniana'ole, passing Portlock. "Fuck you!" I screamed. "Fuck you!" be continued

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