Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 12, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #21. Stranger In The Office

I recall how much of a devout man Charles Sturman was.

Everything about him was his faith, his clothing, his mannerisms, the car he drove, and the food he ate. He was one of the best, if not THE best, workers in the office. I was the only Hawaiian. Other Hawaiians who were hired here and there lasted only a short time. Considering that everyone in the office made fun of Charles to his face and never invited him to any outings with everyone else unless it couldn't be helped, like if it were an office party or gathering. I was the only person ever cordial and friendly to Charles, even defending him when everyone else gave him a hard time. Yet, I was the person he hated because of my skin color. I supposed I was the darkest employee there; everyone else was local Asian or Portuguese or what have you. When I wore a lei to work because of a holiday or my birthday, Charles would walk by my cubicle and say, "You're going to hell for worshiping false deities!" Or, "You stupid savages should come out of the dark age!"

Everyone came to my defense, but I urged them to let it go. They continued to make fun of him, he continued to hate me, and I continued to defend him. One day, the boss called me into his office. "Makaio, your friends here tell me that Charles has been making racist comments to you? Is this true?"

"Yes, Mr. Cachola, but you see, these guys make fun of Charles, and he never fights back or says anything to defend himself, so I do," I said.

"And calling you racist names is how he pays you back?" Mr. Cachola couldn't believe what he heard.

"He's expressing his frustrations because he can't fight back," I said. "He doesn't know how,"

Two days later, the main antagonists, Troy Fuji'i, Darla Kim, and Rey Polacio, were fired for harassment. A week later, while I walked to my car in the parking structure of our office, I saw Charles getting the shit kicked out of him by Troy, Darla, and Rey. I ran over to break it up while Charles lay on the ground, bloodied and pummeled. We locked eyes briefly, and he screamed at me, "I don't need your help, you nigger Hawaiian!"

That stopped me; he'd rather be beaten to death than have me rescue him from his assailants. It was madness that I couldn't let fester and turn into sleepless nights of guilt. So I ran over to help him. That's when the three helped Charles to his feet, and they all stared at me. It was a setup all along. It was never about Charles being the only awkward white guy in the office. It was about me, being the only Hawaiian. It's a long and elaborate ruse to play out to get to one guy, but I'm the king of the long game. I removed the Kel-Tech P11 from my pocket, shooting Troy and Rey first, saving Darla and Charles for last. Not for me, but for Boy. He and the Rizal Brothers emerged from his 66 Chrysler and surrounded the two. Jose' punched Charles in the gut, and as soon as he opened his mouth to catch his breath of air, Boy shoved the small Ti Leafed bundle in it and held Charles' mouth shut. You could hear a small concussive explosion in his head, and black smoke puffed out his ears, and he was dead.

"Tell us everything," Boy deadpanned to Darla.

"The last Hawaiian girl, Kupihea, from Papakolea, Charles, Rey, and Troy raped her," she said quietly despite her big-boned frame and standing at six feet two. 

"And who else?" Boy asked.

"And me," she mumbled. Boy grabbed her hand and placed a medium-sized pu'olo in her palm. She cried, pleading for her life. "Uncle, no, please, please! I get my tutu and my nieces and nephews at home! Only get me to provide, nobody else!"

"Is that why you helped rape that girl and kill her? Because you have your tutu and your nieces and nephews?" Boy asked, but Darla said nothing; she just cried miserably. "If you can stand here holding this pu'olo without moving, you'll be saved. If you move, you and your entire family will die. You know, since you committed rape and murder in their name,"

Darla realized the weight of what she had done. Rather than sacrifice her family for her misdeeds, she shoved the pu'olo in her mouth and went up in an explosion of black smoke. Silence permeated the car as we drove back to the office. When we arrived, 'awa was passed around until we were too relaxed to speak. 

Julia Kupihea was found raped and murdered in the parking lot of that same building, but there were no CCTV cameras in the parking structure or offices. Her mother hired Boy to do his thing. In turn, Boy had me go undercover and find a job in that office to lure the players out. Who knew it was THAT complicated?

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