Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 31, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #9 Ten Guitars.

 I was seven years old in 1969. It was the last time I'd be in the Children's Hospital.

I remember one morning, the nurse came in and gave me a clear plastic cup with a raw egg that hid the black liquid I was supposed to drink. It was horrible, but I had to drink the whole thing. I can see that's a similar thing happening with Jay right now. He's not happy about his physical therapy. He believes the exercises they're having him do are at his own expense and that the doctor and the nurses are having a laugh about it behind his back. He's always been a tough kid, but Jay has also had these small insecurities about certain things, so he asked me to be there during his physical and mental therapy sessions. "It seems like stupid kid stuff that I thought was over with, but now that I'm older, it's like it crept back," Jay explained after the sessions were over. "It's fucking dumb, I know,"

"I'm kinda the same way about a few things, but you're on the edge of paranoia," he told him. 

"Remember how Carmen and Stella, our cousins, used to mock us whenever you and I conversed? Or how they'd make these faces behind their backs when Mom and Dad complimented us? That's what this feels like: the doctor and the nurses are two-faced," Jay looked down and shook his head. 

"I don't see it, Jay," I whispered. "I've been here every day for your therapy sessions, and I have not once seen them give each other non-verbal signals or anything,"

"You think it's in my head? Like I'm having hallucinations?" Jay was genuinely worried.

"I think this heart attack has given you a lot of undue stress," I said. "Just relax, you'll be fine. Let's get some lunch at the cafeteria; I'll go get a wheelchair,"

Walking toward the nurse's station, I saw the wheelchair beside the phones. I got it and wheeled it back to Jay's room. For a slight second, I thought I heard stifled giggles, and when I looked back, the doctor and the nurses who gave Jay his therapy regarded me briefly and turned their backs, doing a horrible job at hiding their laughter. Immediately incensed, I marched back to the nurse's station, grabbing the doctor and spinning him around, ready to knock his lights out. However, it wasn't Jay's doctor; it was someone else, a much older doctor with nurses, laughing at a pic on his cell phone. "Sorry," I said sheepishly. "I thought you guys were someone else,"


I had Jay sit at the table while I went and got our food. Bland salad, jello, and maybe half a sandwich for him. Cheeseburger, fries, and actual bottles of Coca-Cola for me. I sat down and put my brother's food in front of him and mine in front of me. "Asshole, you're really gonna eat that shit in front of me, knowing I can't have any?"

"Sorry, it should be okay, right? It's not a McDonald's burger, right? I'll be back," I walked over and grabbed a cheeseburger, gave it the once over, and returned to our table. "You want some ketchup on it?"

"Ketchup no," Jay said as I placed the burger before him. "Mayo? Yes, mayo,"

"I dunno, should you be eating mayo? If Cyndi and the kids show up, she's gonna kill you," I told him.

"No, she's gonna kill you first for feeding me this shit, then she'll kill me after," he laughed. Pointing at the coke bottles, Jay mumbled while chewing his burger. "They're bringing the bottles back? I have not seen the real glass Coke bottles since we were kids,"

At that moment, in my head, I had already told Jay about when I was at the Children's Hospital building in front of his rehab building when I was seven. I told him about Kai Murashige, an eleven-year-old boy in our ward, but no one ever knew why he was there. He was street-smart and gave the nurses and doctors a hard time. He appeared to be more than physically sick because he was always angry. I almost told Jay that one day, Kai snuck six bottles of Coke-a-cola into our ward, where we all had a drink. That was not good for me since I was supposed to have my kidneys cleaned out. Something happened so bad that I was rushed to surgery. I had all of this information in my head, ready to share with my brother, when it struck me that this was another memory that would physically manifest itself if I so much as uttered a word about it. I caught myself just in time, nearly choking on a french fry I popped in my mouth. I downed a gulp of Coke from the bottle while Jay reached across and tapped me on the shoulder. "You okay, man? You alright?"

I recovered and swatted my brother's hand away, "I'm fucking choking to death, and you're tapping me on the shoulder? What the fuck are you doing? Congratulating me for dying?"

"Shut up," he shook his head. "You're not dying,"

"You're not either," It was my way of apologizing. As fate would have it, my sister-in-law Cyndi walked into the cafeteria and saw her husband eating a cheeseburger.

"JAY-UH!!! What the hell are you doing eating a cheeseburger for chrissakes!" She practically ran to the table to snatch the burger out of her husband's hands.

"If you weren't dying a minute ago, you are now," I snickered. Jay gave me the strongest middle finger he could muster while Cyndi reemed him for the burger, the mayo, and the bottle of Coke. While all the bluster transpired between those two, I got up and emptied the plates and napkins in the trash, and returned my tray. With everything going on, I hadn't noticed the song playing on the overhead in the cafeteria.

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

And if you're with the one you love, this is what you do..."

The twin candy stripers emerged from the kitchen's double swinging doors. One carried the record player with the vinyl spinning on it. The other played air guitar with a dramatic flair and an equally dramatic walk. Candy and Tammy those were their names. Local Japanese sisters volunteering at the children's hospital. They were killed in a hit-and-run while crossing the street, rushing to their bus stop. Their mangled spirits kept showing up for their shift after they were dead. We all saw it in our ward; that's why spirits were so prevalent, like Kai Murashige. One day, we were all having fun learning how to play Paiute cards from Kai. The following day, he never woke up. We were never told why, but after that, everyone, even the nurses, began to see him. "NO!!" I screamed in my head. "NOT HERE! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED HERE!!"

The sisters ignored me, and they kept coming; the only thing I could think of was salt. I rushed over, inserted myself between Jay and Cyndi, and grabbed the salt shaker. Furiously twisting the top off, I poured a small pile in my hand and threw it sweepingly toward Candy and Tammy. Screaming like the melting witch in The Wizard of Oz, they both retreat, slowly dimming until nothing is left of them. My brother and his wife looked at me like I was crazy.

"Can't let Jay have any salt," I weakly tried to explain away my weird action. "And at the same time, bless the cafeteria. They said it's kinda haunted,"

"Stop letting your brother eat this shit!" Cyndi pinched my shoulder with her fingernails.

Rubbing away the stinging sensation on my shoulder, I seriously regarded the two. "Maybe we should take Jay to another Rehab? I don't like this place, and I don't like how they treat my brother; they're assholes."

I gave my brother the play-along look, telling him that this was his way to get out of here if the doctor and nurses were making fun of him. " Yeah, babes, I'd feel better at another facility,"

"Well, I just talked to a young man who said he's here for his rehab, and he loves it," Cyndi said. "He says he knows you, Blake,"

"He knows me?" That was strange. I didn't know any young people.

"He said to mention his name to you, Kai Murashige," be continued

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