Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 21, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #30 Speak.

 My years of growing up toward the end of the plantation era in Hawai'i provided me with many spiritual encounters and rich stories from other ethnicities, such as Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Okinawan, Portuguese, Puertorican, and Hawaiian.

The Korean and Samoan elders never discussed their spirits and ghosts at all. For as many friends I had from different racial backgrounds as I'd gotten along with, I realized that not everyone liked Hawaiians and, in fact, some of the other oppressed ethnicities of the darker color didn't like Hawaiians either. We of the host culture were at the bottom of the totem pole. 

My Japanese neighbors, Marley and Peter Tanaka, were a very private couple who kept to themselves. They only spoke to us to complain about the mango leaves from our tree falling into their yard. In fact, one day, Peter Tanaka was so incensed that he came to our front door with a rake and dustpan and shoved it into my father's chest, "Your leaves, you rake it up!"

My father broke the rake in half and flew the makeshift dustpan back into Peter's yard. "The leaves from your star fruit tree fall in my yard, and you know what I do? I just rake it up throw it in the dirt pile, no complaints. You should do the same," my father told him very calmly. Marley, Mister Tanaka's wife, stood on their side of the fence, calling for her husband while she simultaneously insulted my father. 

"Get away from that dumb Hawaiian Peter," she motioned to him. "Come home, now!"

My mother got a hold of that last statement from Marley, jumped over the fence that divided our properties, and was right up in Marley's face, "Try calling my husband dumb just one more time!" She yanked her by the hair and sent her sprawling down the steps. Both my father and Peter ran over to break the two up. Separating the two women was not the problem; the actual problem was both my father and Peter laughing while they did it. Soon, my mother and Marley were laughing, too, and after they realized how ridiculous their actions were, they began apologizing to one another. Soon, food was brought into our garage, and the hibachi was fired up while beer and sake filled the table part of the wooden bench against the adjoining shed. Mortal enemies were now friends who acted like they'd known each other for years. Shiomi, Mister and Mrs. Tanaka's daughter was born the following year. She grew up to be intelligent and beautiful and mastered everything she did. The only problem was that she never spoke, not a word. If she choose to, she would write her communications or type it out on a piece of paper. Early on, when her parents asked her why she doesn't talk, Shiomi wrote on a small piece of paper, "I have nothing to say,"

 I never bugged her about it if she said something she did. If she didn't, she didn't. That's why we remained such close friends for so long. One night, while Shiomi and I were out of high school and going to college while at the same time working part-time jobs, she'd left a note for her parents as to how she might be able to talk once and for all. Marley and Peter came over to speak with my parents and left the note with them to give to me. Since I was Shiomi's friend, they thought I might be able to figure out why their daughter was saying such a thing. I finished work late; it was ten thirty when I'd gotten home. I heated up the broccoli and steak and popped open an RC Cola when my parents came into the kitchen, showing me Shiomi's note. I read it, and it took me a few times to read it again and again before I realized that Shiomi was either serious or crazy. I waited for her on her front porch. Eventually, the high beams of her car pulled into her driveway, illuminating my sitting form on her front steps. She waved hello to me, I got up, and half waved back. "Let's go for a drive," I told her. "We have to talk." 

She pointed to her house and indicated that she should tell her parents where she was going. "They already know," I assured her. She followed me to my car, and we drove up to manager's drive, but not before stopping at Leeward Driving to get some burgers, fries, and a drink. We were parked and relaxed when I took her note out of my pocket and showed it to her. "Your folks showed this to my parents; they're worried, so they thought I knew something about it," I said."Are you serious, or are you just fucking with them?"

She took out her notepad from her purse and wrote on it, "No, I'm serious,"

"Shiomi, no one in their right got-damned mind is going to do this, just so you can start talking again," I shook my head.

"It's the only way," she wrote on her notepad and showed it to me. "You're the only person I know who has ever been in his right mind; you can do it, right?"

Before I could tell Shiomi that she was insane and that there was no way I'd do what was asked in her note, she had my zipper open and my pants down to my knees. She sat on my lap and had me inside her. Whenever I got close to letting go, she squeezed until she could hold me off, and then she'd start again. I was so dizzy by the end that if she asked me to drink my blood, I would have done it with no question. I spent the following years trying to fulfill what she wanted, that she might be able to talk once and for all, but the request per her note was not something anyone would readily agree to. Whenever I began to falter, I found myself literally at Shiomi's feet, begging her to give up the quest. Each time, she'd have me on my back, helping me to renew my resolve. Eventually, I fell off the map. I was so madly obsessed with what Shiomi wanted that I missed my parents' funeral services after they perished in a car accident. Shiomi married her supervisor from her state job. On her wedding day, Marley and Peter asked her if she was still serious about what her note said all those years ago? The note she gave them explained, "I was in my rebellious period, I wasn't serious," she wrote. "Sorry to make you worry!"

She was Shiomi Kagawa now, the wife of Larry Kagawa, head of the state transportation department. Among his contemporaries, he was known to generously grease the wheels of any politician who they needed a favor from. Larry was so deeply connected that he was untouchable. Shiomi had the life she wanted, living in the house she dreamed of with a bank account that never went dry. She was thirty-three when she became pregnant with her first child. Larry pampered her and built a special room for their first expected newborn. One evening, Shiomi was restless and told Larry she was going for a walk and that she'd be back in an hour. He asked if she wanted him to come along, but she assured him she'd be fine. The walking trail in their gated community was relatively new, and a part of it led out into the Makaha forest. The wind filtering down from the heights of the ancient valley seemed to surround her, giving her the comfort she needed. She breathed deeply and exhaled, gently rubbing her pregnant tummy. In the next second, the assailant tackled her so hard to the ground that she was in too much shock and pain to react, much less defend herself. He made quick work of her, he'd had years of practice, so it was easy. The scalpel parted her pregnant belly like butter. Removing the fetus, which was only a month away from being born, he intended to remove its liver so that his lifelong friend and seducer could finally talk. That's why her note required that the liver from a newborn child be fed to her. In that way, she could finally speak among people. The assailant got a good look at the mother and did a double take, then another one, until it sunk in that the woman he had just cut open, who lay there bleeding to death, was his love Shiomi. It was for her that he'd spent all the years of his life finding a way to get a liver from a living infant. Now, having what he needed, he placed the infant in Shiomi's arms, crying hysterically. 

That assailant is me, Kela. The son of Charles and Lei Kamaka, the next-door neighbors of Marley and Pete Tanaka. The parents of Shiomi Kagawa, who now lays before me dying, holding on to what she might have needed to speak once and for all. The baby begins to wail with such healthy lungs that it fills the still air and resounds off the walls of the surrounding valley. It's the last ironic thing Shiomi hears before she dies.

Credit: @Matthew Meyer.

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