Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 27, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #36 Waiwai

Children can't and don't know how to fight back when abused; the external leaves signs and marks of the abuse. It's the internal that leaves the most traumatic impressions. 

Working at the video store in the 1980s' was a thrill because it was a corporate chain of video stores across the continent. Unfortunately, being from the mainland, holidays and family time for us locals didn't matter to those who ran corporate; even though they all took off to spend time with their own families, we had to work Christmas Day and New Year's Eve. It was what it was. Employees came and went, except for those who intended to make the video chain their career with the hopes of owning a franchise. You could if you weren't local or a woman. It was what it was. At a time when the volume of customers and rentals was sky high, and the parking lots were to capacity, a new assistant manager was hired whose previous career was a shoe salesman. Even after all these years, I have to say he was a great salesman, which made him very much liked by the customers. However, he was also an ass-kissing backstabber. Kissing ass to the corporate office and backstabbing all the locals. I steered clear of him as much as I could, but whenever I worked a shift he supervised, I just kept my head down and worked my shift.

"You're showing great potential!" He'd say as he slapped you on the shoulder and gave it a circular rub.

He'd say the same thing with the females but give them an overly dramatic, insincere bow instead of a slap and a rub. Whenever complaints about him were sent to corporate, people were suddenly let go for no good reason. So, workers feared that by saying anything otherwise, they'd lose their jobs. Whenever corporate went on weekend jaunts to watch the local football game, fishing, or golf, John Peter was there whether he was invited or not. At the football games, he was the designated gopher for drinks. He baited the hooks for fishing, and for golf, he drove the cart and carried all the bags. He wore those horrible aloha print polo shirts with a bow tie, pleated pants, and spats shoes. Did he get a raise? No, just a slap on the shoulder with a circular rub and an insincere bow. John Peter was Hawaiian, obviously, through and through. He never used his last name, Waiwailima. Just John Peter. It was on his driver's license and social security. In hating himself, he hated his own people. Proof of this is Spencer Lonoa'e, who was a weekend hire. Everyone liked him. He was funny, but very hard working. He went above and beyond to help customers with whatever they needed, which is why we got a lot of return customers on the weekend because of Spencer. His family was beautiful; his wife and children always arrived in time for dinner with Spencer on his break. One Saturday evening, John had to fill in for the swing manager, Erin, who went into labor. Which meant John had to work from two in the afternoon 'til closing at midnight. During the shift, John saw how well Spencer worked and how crowds of customers came in to say hello or stand in Spencer's line as he checked their videos for rental. John also saw how the customers' hearts were warmed by his family coming to spend time with Spencer on his break. Sunday was John's regular shift from two in the afternoon to midnight. From the start of Spencer's shift, John sent him to the back to do inventory. Whatever needed restocking, John sent Spencer to the warehouse to gather and return with the items. When the time came for his break with his family,  John walked into the break room and apologized to Spencer's wife, saying to John that they were swamped and he was needed on the floor. For the remainder of the evening, whenever a customer approached Spencer for help or came to say hello, John quickly inserted himself and directed the customer to follow him, saying that he was the manager and they could go to him from now on for anything they needed. Everyone saw what was happening and felt terrible that John made Spencer the focus of his jealousy and self-loathing. At the end of the night, when closing procedures were underway, Spencer clocked out and, with his backpack, made his way out the exit. John was there to block his path and demanded to see his bag. Spencer thought nothing of it. To his surprise, John pulled a wad of cash from the side pocket. 

"Awww, Spencer, this looks bad; why would you do this?" John affected.

"Do what?" Spencer ask.

"Steal money from the till?" John shook his head.

"I didn't work the cash register tonight," Spencer said. "Remember, you had me doing inventory in the back and then called me up front when we were caught up in the rush. You also wouldn't let me talk to customers and kept me on gah-root duty all night. I also noticed you didn't check anyone else's backpack but mine,"

"Well, Spencer, you're also from the rough area of Waipahu, so you know," John shrugged.

"If you were going to set me up, you should have taken the currency strap off the cash. You see, during the week, I work at a bank. I do this on the weekends for my kids so they can watch their favorite videos," Spencer said as he snatched his backpack from John and left. Monday morning, John was called to corporate, where they told him that Spencer Lono was a friend of theirs who got them their free and unlimited T-time at the golf course because his family owned the land. Consequently, John Peter was let go. When he got to the store, he made a big dramatic deal of what happened and how he was wrongly fired because no one told him who Spencer Lono was and that corporate set him up. He made it a point to go up to everyone in the store to get a hug goodbye or at least a handshake. We waited outside in the parking lot next to his car. 

"I guess you all heard the bad news, guys," he placed his hand over his heart, affecting tears.

"Father John Waiwailima," I said. "You don't remember us, do you?"

John stopped dead in his tracks. His expression became deathly serious. He looked at us as if he were seeing us for the first time. I could see it running through his mind, trying to place the faces to the time and place from which he should have remembered us. "You guys, whoever you're talking about, you must be mistaking me for someone else,"

"Spaz," Vinge Carillo said as he half raised his hand.

"Runner," Cameron Duhay saluted.

"Long Pants," Shiro Okami nodded. "My brother short sleeve is here too." His twin Shigeo nodded and winked.

"What is this supposed to be, you guys? I mean, what are you folks doing?" He was nervous, nearly fearful. 

"You don't remember Saint Clementene's Church? Have you forgotten your altar boys already? We've worked with you in that store for a year, and you haven't recognized one of us," I said as I stepped forward. 

"That was another lifetime," he protested. "I'm a different person now,"

"You always liked the lighter-skinned boys," I kept approaching very methodically. "Us? You beat, kicked, and slapped. If I'm not mistaken, you spit on Spaz when you were too tired hit him with your belt anymore,"

"I remember that," Spaz nodded. 

"I remember getting the bottom of my feet whacked with the ti-leaf rib," Runner recalled. "That shit stung like nobody's business,"

"Wow, I neva know that," Shiro scoffed. "All I got was his finger up my ass,"

Shigeo said nothing. He just looked at his twin and nodded slowly, his eyes filled with tears. Behind John's car, where he parked, was a grass embankment leading down to the sidewalk and then the freeway. The former father bolted past us, sliding down the grass slope, running toward first Hawaiian Bank, where he took a shortcut through the parking lot of what was then GEM'S department store. We lost sight of him as soon as he ran past Zippy's. John Peter disappeared for a few weeks. The following month, when we all showed up to open on the morning shift, John Peter's body was found hanging in the stock room. There was dried blood on his Khaki pants and white loafers. His oxfords had the sleeves torn off at the elbows to make them short-sleeved. Now we know he was killed, and it wasn't suicide. Only we knew Shigeo's calling card. Back at the seminary, whenever Shigeo beat the shit out of someone, for some reason, he'd tear their long-sleeved shirts off at the elbow. Which is how he got his nickname.

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