Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 26, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #35 Olena. Pt. 2

 "I imagine you have people who tend to the lo'i?" I asked her.

"They work the hours of our ancestors, beginning at four in the morning when it's cool and the work conditions are agreeable," she shared. "Now come, you have to try the poi!"

She led me through more winding hallways, the wooden floors audibly announcing our trek to the rest of the mansion. The kitchen, the second I saw it, gave me instant nostalgia for the kind of kitchen I remember in my house. Massive counters, shelves, dishes, closets, and those old-time gas stoves, except the one here is electric. On the island table in the middle of the kitchen sat a large porcelain bowl covered with wax paper, held in place with a large rubber band wrapped around the top. Olena removed it and smiled as she slid it over to me while placing a spoon in front of me with a napkin wrapped around it.

"It's magic," she said. 

I briefly peered into the porcelain bowl and saw the purple hue of the poi. It almost seemed sacrilegious to dip my spoon into it and ruin the perfect texture. I thanked the persons who made the poi and the ancestors from which the poi came. I immersed the spoon and slowly spun it around while removing it simultaneously. Bringing it to my mouth, the pleasurable sound that came out of me couldn't be helped.

"Oh my god," I half chuckled. "I've never tasted poi this sweet! It's not just magical, it's beautiful," was I becoming emotional too? "Wait, I don't think beautiful is even the right word to describe it!"

"That's why it's magic," Olena smiled. "What are your plans for tonight, Mr. K? Matt is coming over for dinner; you should join us, and then you can finish the rest of this poi."

"I don't think I'm really doing anything important," I said. "I'd like to accept your invitation if that's alright?"

"Of course it is," she smiled. "It will be a late dinner, at eight. If that's not too late for you, please come join us,"

"It's not too late," I assured her. "I'll be back at eight. Is there anything I should bring?"

"We've got everything, Mr. K, no worries,"


The rest of the day was filled with paperwork, deadlines, and phone calls to my mother explaining half-heartedly why I wasn't married yet. She urged me to hurry before it was too late to give her grandchildren, but what was I supposed to do? Be a father in my forties? I'll be in my mid-fifties to early sixties by the time my child is a teenager. I couldn't say those words to my mother; it would break her heart. I could only tell her I was giving it my best effort. Then she'd ask about every female in my life she'd ever met, going right down the list. Every name got a resounding no, and then she'd introduce me to the daughter, niece, or granddaughter of one of her friends. I'd agree to call or meet the person to get her off my back. The conversations and dinners were always great, but it never went beyond that. A few days later, my mother would call me and complain, "You're making me look really bad in front of my friend! How come you never called her daughter back after the first date?"


I drove even slower along the beaten path. In the dark, it appeared to be more ominous than when it was cumbersome during the day. The canopy covering the road didn't make the journey any more pleasant. Urban legends are born from these places, exciting teenagers' imaginations who are out on a night for debauchery, liquor, and mind-altering drugs. Coming out of the path and seeing the mansion lit with soothing yellow lights relieved me. That may be the purpose of this place. Perhaps only those who were meant to be here complete the beaten path, whereas others are motivated by the fear that the road exudes and turn right around and head home. A 4runner sat next to Olena's Mercedes in the parking lot. Soon, my Lexus would join the line-up, and I'd head up the front stairs. Matthew and Olena were waiting. The two met me halfway down the stairs, and we all walked to the main room, where an intimately sized table waited under a kind of chandelier made from upside-down lanterns with wind chimes made of bent spoons hanging around them, giving the space a fair amount of strange shadows on the walls. "Well, that's unusual?" I pointed.

"Believe it or not," Olena began. "Those are telekinetically bent spoons that I saved. I thought that turning them into wind chimes would be cool,"

"Very unique," I nodded.

"Steak tips, O'io salad, steamed 'uala, and poi," Matthew gestured to the food waiting on the table. "I made it myself, Mr. K. I hope you like it."

"I made the Mamaki tea," Olena added. "Sun-dried and everything,"

"There's 'awa after," Matthew gestured to the covered Kanoa and niu cups sitting on a separate table.

"I feel so bad; I came empty-handed," I apologized.

"Next time," Matthew nudged me. "No worries,"

The dinner was terrific, and the three of us reminisced about their days in school, their misadventures, and who had a crush on whom. It turns out that most of their classmates moved to the mainland or got married, pregnant, and divorced in five years. "What about you, Mr. K? Are you married now or something?"

"Something," I laughed. "No, not married, not in a relationship, and no kids,"

"Is it alright if we asked what happened?" Matthew was always sincere, so I had no problem answering his question.

"Before I started teaching at the school, and before you became my students, I was married," I said while inhaling a steak tip and washing it down with a spoonful of poi. "To make a very long, painful story short, my wife died from cancer. I hadn't...haven't been in a relationship since,"

Olena exited her chair and knelt beside me, giving me a hug, which came with tears. It didn't feel awkward this time. Matthew went around the other side of the table and hugged me. For the first time in thirty years, I cried. "Let's leave the food here; we'll come back and finish," Olena rubbed my shoulder while wiping her tears away. 

" 'Awa," Matthew opened the Kanoa and began making a mix. We walked over and sat in front of him. Once it was ready, we watched him walk to the corner of the room where he poured the first cup of 'awa over an oblong stone that was kept reverently elevated on a mini altar made of smooth hand-set stones. This was for the ancestors and the god of the area. The second cup was offered to me, where I offered a sprinkle in front of me, over the shoulders right and left in the same mode of respect. Olena followed suit, and Matthew was last. We let the effects of the piper methysticum wash over us, mellowing us out and making us feel super relaxed. By the third cup, I was so relaxed that I hadn't realized I had fallen asleep. When I awoke, it was still dark, and I saw Matthew and Olena kneeling on either side of me, nudging me back to consciousness.

"So weird," I began. "It didn't seem like a dream at all because she was right here, where you are, Olena,"

"Who?" Matthew asked.

"My wife, Waiehu," I answered. "She was telling me that I was where I needed to be, and then the two of you woke me up,"

"Come with us," Olena and Matthew held their hands out to me and helped me up. I grabbed my cell phone and saw it was four in the morning. Before I could protest about the time, Olena gently took my phone from me and placed it on the table. "Come," she motioned with her head toward the back porch. "You have to be quiet," she whispered. "I think you'll appreciate this."

Giant curtains covered the opening to the veranda, which overlooked the endless acreage of lo'i kalo. "Very carefully, move the curtain back without making it too obvious. When you see what's out there, don't react, just take it in for what it is," Matthew instructed. In doing so, I nearly let out an Oh My God, but Matthew covered my mouth and whispered, "Take it for what it is, Mr. K."

Menehune for as far as the eye could see. Occupying every lo'i kalo, working silently and fastidiously by torchlight. It was breathtaking and very humbling. I hadn't realized I was crying until my tears blurred my vision. 

"I saw them one night while heading to the kitchen for a glass of water. When I realized what this place was, I told my wife and husband, but they refused to acknowledge the Menehune. The commune mattered more because that's where all the money came from. Without telling me, Marlene and Terrence hired some people with Bobcats to upend the acreage so the Menehune wouldn't return. A week later, Marlene and Terrence were killed in a car accident on the road overlooking Menehune Fish Pond on Kauai."

"How's that for karma?" Matt offered. "Olena had me come over one night, and she showed me the Menehune wandering the property. We promised to return the land for them, and it's been this way ever since. We let them work the lo'i to provide for themselves, and in turn, they've given us everything we need."

"The commune thing here is only during the day, and part of the spiritual workshop involves becoming one with the land, so all these people from around the world get their money's worth. They get to work in the lo'i in the hot afternoon sun. It's a lo'i separate from the one for the Menehune," Olena said. "Mr. K, you were always there for us, always supporting us, never getting in our business. Even when we didn't want to hear it, you always said you'd be there if we needed you, and you were,"

"Let us be here for you, Mr. K. Come stay here with us; you'll have everything you need, and you can come and go as you please. In turn, you keep the secret of this place, and the Menehune will take care of you the way they've taken care of me and Olena."

"That's why the road coming here is how it is," I finally figured it out. 

"Whatta ya say, Mr. K.?" Matthew whispered.


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