Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 18, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #27 Flying.

The scent of Pikake lei, interspersed with the aroma of jet fuel, is simultaneously pleasing to the senses and revolting.

The fumes from the jet fuel burn the little hairs in my nostrils, which activates my gag reflex. I must walk away for a second to clear my senses of all the conflicting aromas in one spot. It's time to go, once and for all. My father and I don't see eye to eye, so the longer I live at home, the greater the potential for a blowout between us where words are said that cannot be taken back. It will wreck my mother completely since she's always the one who catches the fallout. I was the apple of my father's eye until I got older and began having thoughts and opinions that didn't align with us. He turned his attention to my younger brother Carlton, who worshipped my father. Believe me, I harbored zero jealousy about that situation. It got my father off my back, or so I thought. In any case, karma struck unexpectedly when my girlfriend of ten years was no longer interested in upholding the goals we set together for our future. Denay had different opinions and thoughts about what her life should be, and none of them included me. So, in the end, it's me and my Mom at the airport saying our goodbyes. 

"You know, you're father and brother.." she trailed off.

"Mom, everything that needed to be said was said," I reassured her. "It's done, alright? It's all taken care of; there's no need to bring it up anymore,"

"What about you then?" She looked up at me, very concerned with her wrinkled brow.

"Mom, you asked me that question a million times today, and a million times, I've given you the same answer," I rubbed her shoulders and smiled. "I am perfectly fine,"

"I'm your mother, and I'll ask that question as many gut-damned times as I want!" She pinched the flesh on my bicep. I jumped and screamed in pain like a yapping chihuahua. Rubbing my bicep, I growled at her, and she pinched me again. "Don't you growl at me!"

"Stop it!" I hissed at her. "What's wrong with you?"

"You three stupid men are what's wrong with me," she leaned in close. "So hard, head!"

Looking at the mountain of Pikake lei around her neck, I adjusted them so they were even on her shoulders. Plus, I intended to change the conversation. "Aren't you going to get a headache with all the Pikake aroma in your face?"

"It's my favorite," she held the flowers up to her nose and inhaled. "I never get tired of it,"

"Out of all the lei, your friends brought you, you kept these to take along," I nodded.

"As long as the aroma surrounds me, I won't be sad. Which means I won't cry," but she cried anyway. I stood there, ever the dutiful firstborn, and cried with her. The last call for boarding came over the intercom. It wasn't something we were looking forward to. She was going to say something, but I held my hand up to her to stop her.

"All the words we needed to say have already been said," Ignoring me, she stepped forward and took me in her arms. All the years of her happiness and heartbreak were in that hug. My god, she was so strong, and she endured so much. She always found ways to keep my father and me from killing each other. However, on the day I was moving out, the damn broke over something minor and insignificant that my father said, not to me, but to my younger brother. 

"Carlton, don't forget the mono-fin; we're going to Kaimana's after this," the mono-fin Carlton brought out had my name on it, spelled out in white-out. 'Manford,'

"That's my mono-fin," I said while I held my hand out to Carlton. "That's mine, it's going with me,"

"Let your brother have it," my father interrupted. "You never use it anyway."

"I never used it because you were supposed to teach me how to swim with it, and you never did," my teeth were bare, and I was seething. "So, it goes with me."

"Brah," Carlton directed his ass-kissing ire at me. "Don't talk to dad like that!"

"Fuck you, you little brown-nosed ass licker," when I turned to address my father, his clenched fist met the left side of my face. It rang my bell and gave me a moment to pause. After which, I regarded him with murderous intent. He wasn't winning this one. "That's it? That's all you got?"

It was bedlam from there. Fists were flying, and I kicked him in his nuts when Carlton jumped on me to get me off of our father. My Mom was screaming for us to stop until she wasn't. She was dead when the three of us saw her lying on the floor, with white foamed spittle drooling out of her mouth.


The three of us put everything aside long enough to make the funeral arrangements for my Mom; during the whole term, we didn't say a word to one another. I mean, Carlton and my father spoke to each other, but not to me, and I not to them. Afterward, the two of them would fly ahead to Hilo, where my mother wanted to be buried since she was born and raised in Wainaku. It's where we went every summer to spend time with Mom's family until they all died out one by one. She was the last. I was here in Honolulu, ensuring her casket got on the plane. "You're going home, Mom, you'll be fine. Uncle and Aunty them are all waiting for you; hal-abeoji and halmeoni are there too,"

"And you?" She asked.

"The day I was moving out, I meant to tell you that I got a job in Vegas, managing the first Zippy's restaurant, but Dad and I got into that fight, so...anyway. I'm flying out in an hour," no holding back on the tears now. Let it go; let it all out. "Go ahead, Mom, I'll be fine. As soon as I'm settled, I'll come back to Wainaku to see you. I love you, ok?"

She smiled through her tears and laughed a bit, "That's all I wanted to hear, now I can go,"

She turned, walked past the flight attendants announcing the last call, and then disappeared into the jetway. She was on her way home because of our pig-headed stupidity and stubbornness. We caused her death; we'd been doing it for years, thinking less about how it affected her and more about one of us three being right. Now, we had nothing. However, Mom was on her way home, where she always longed to be. 

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