Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 1, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #41. Champ.

 My wife is out there right now in the living room watching our grandchildren while our adult children are at work.

Our older grandchildren are in school. Two are in elementary, two are in intermediate, and the oldest grandchild is in high school. I remember growing up in this situation, except my adoptive mother took in foster children because the state paid her. Or at least that was my understanding. I grew up that way, with many kids constantly in the house. So, when I was older, I valued my privacy because I had none at home. At some point, my adoptive mother stopped taking in foster children in their teens because they were a handful. Plus, with teenage boys and girls in the same space, teenage problems were bound to surface, and they did.

Johnny Tolis was a local Portuguese kid who could have been Tarzan in the movies if he wanted to. Naturally muscular and athletic, he was a surfer with a promising future. He had one problem: he couldn't stay out of trouble because of the crowd he hung out with. He was cool to me and often took me with him on trips to the store and the beach. At 16 years old, Johnny looked like he could be 30. Ayva Colletta was just 17; she was a beautiful Filipino, Portuguese, and Hawaiian girl who kept running away from home because of her stepfather. You can figure out why for yourselves. Johnny and Ayva fell head over heels for each other but constantly had to hide their open affections. The two didn't hide in front of us kids, but from my adoptive parents, they had to. One day, Johnny and Ayva were being careless, and my adoptive mom found them huddled under a blanket on the couch swing on the porch. She tore the blanket off and screamed at them. Thank goodness they were wearing clothes! Things would have been worse if they were not. My adoptive mom had her favorite old-school yardstick handy, which she broke over Johnny's head. Ayva got pulled off the couch by her hair because she got in my adoptive mother's way while trying to hit Johnny with what was left of her yardstick. They were separated all day until they ran away together later that night. The following day, Johnny and Ayva's parents showed up with the social worker and foster care people in tow at our house. It was a volatile situation as parents on both sides accused each other of raising stupid children. When the authorities stepped in between the two families, they turned their hostility towards my adoptive mother, who laughed in their faces. 

"If you were such great parents, I wouldn't have had to foster your children in the first place! Go look in the mirror, so you know who to blame!"

As much as the authorities set out to look for Johnny and Ayva, they couldn't be found. Maybe because they didn't want to be. All my adoptive mother could do was wait. A month later, I was sitting on the swing couch on the porch, eating some tangerines from our tree. At the end of the lane that led down to the open road, I saw Johnny walking with his surfboard in one hand; in the other, he held Ayva's. He was in his faded surf shorts with no shirt and slippers. Ayvan wore Johnny's light grey flannel top, black corduroy shorts, and rubber slippers. One part of her hair was in a bun, while the rest fell on her shoulders.

"Johnny! Ayva!" I waved, jumping up and down. "Johnny! Ayva!"

The two looked in my direction and stopped to smile and wave back. Johnny gave a low to-the-hip underhand shaka, while Ayva blew a kiss and waved again. They continued walking until they disappeared as they passed to the other side of the lane. I dropped my tangerines and ran down the steps from the porch and down the lane until I got to the open road and ran after Johnny and Ayva, yelling their names behind them. Before I could reach the two, they both stopped and turned around. Crouching down, they smiled, and Johnny spoke first. "Go home, Champ. You know you not supposed to go past that lane; mom's gonna be mad,"

"I miss you guys, but," I said. "Let me go ask Mom if I can go to the beach with you,"

"Only me and Johnny can go where we're going," Ayva scratched my head. "You have to help mom, okay? You better behave; we love you."

They stood up, and as they walked off, I heard my name being screamed. When I turned around, my adoptive mom was coming down the road. I knew my ass was had, but I had to convince her. "Mom, that was Johnny and Ayva! They wouldn't let me go to the beach with them!"

No slap on the face, shoulder, or on the butt. Her eyes were wide, and she was breathing really hard. "I know, hun, I saw. Let's go back to the house,"

She held my hand and walked in silence the entire time. That is until we reached the kitchen, where she made me a deviled egg sandwich and served me a pitcher of Orange exchange. She remained like that the entire time, silent and staring off like she had an important issue on her mind. I heard her talking to my adoptive father later that evening. Someone had called. I didn't hear who it was too clearly, but that person told my adoptive mother over the phone that the police found Johnny and Ayva near our house. They were hanging next to one another from the same branch of a Kiawe tree. The note they left behind was simple. 

"No matter how often they find and try to separate us, we always find our way back. All we want is to be with each other. Why is that so hard to understand? If this is the only way, then it's the only way."

-J luvs A-

"I looked up for just a second, and down the road, I saw Johnny and Ayva walking by. I was in shock! Then I see Champ running down the road chasing after them," she told my adoptive father. When I caught up to Champ, he was talking to them! He doesn't even know they're dead!"

"What did they look like?" My adoptive father asked her.

"Dead," she replied. "Pale, deep sunken black eyes, skin falling off the bones."

"If Champ saw the same thing, how come he wasn't scared?" My adoptive father was on the verge of freaking out.

"I think Champ saw them the way he remembers them," my adoptive mom theorized. "That could be why he had no fear of those two."

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