Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 12, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #52 Pt.5. Hauola.

Admittedly, Lanai irritated me, which is putting it kindly.

However, because of the false start at the beginning of the program and subsequent re-start the next day, Leipili didn't have a chance to sit down with me and go over the profile of the five wahine in the class.

"This is so you know what you're dealing with, and there are sensitive issues in teaching hula to five women who have suffered from abuse, as you can already figure out," Leipili began.

"Which is why you're here, to ensure everyone, including myself, is safe," I added.

"To make sure that we are all safe," she emphasized.

"Including myself," I repeated. "This is why when it comes time to adjust their posture, hands, feet, hips, and the direction of where their heads are supposed to be facing, you'll do it at my direction."

She shot me another death stare but this time it wasn't as long as the last one, "It makes sense; I can't argue with that," she said while making a note on her yellow steno pad. "Matilda Correa,"

"Who is that?" I asked.

"Your friend, Lanai," Leipili motioned her head toward the space outside her office that was now the hula class. "Makalanai, she claims that while on her journey to miss aloha hula, she went to Lanai look out and climbed down to rocks below where her kumu had her chant above the waves, and that while she was there, an old Hawaiian woman appeared and gave her the Hawaiian name she was supposed to use for merrie monarch, without it, she wouldn't be able to dance. Makalanai was that name,"

I sighed while placing my elbows on the desk and wringing my hands together. "I knew she was lying, and she knew it too, and I kept giving her an out, but she wouldn't take it,"

"She's a borderline pathological liar and has a histrionic personality disorder," Leipili began to explain, but I stopped her. 

"I know that one; my father had it. It got worse when he got older," I said. 

"Eponine Maunalahi," Leipili eyed the profile before her on the screen. 

"Oh, Les Miserables," I nodded. "Interesting,"

"Kamehameha school graduate," Leipili continued to read. "A prodigy, an ingenue, like the Eponine in the story. Brilliant singer, destined for the opera,"

"How did she end up here?" I wondered while already knowing the basic outline of the answer. 

"She got pregnant, and her mother made her get an abortion," Leipili looked away from the screen and leaned across her desk. "She was going places, and she was their meal ticket to get to those places, so the parents decide that she can't be saddled down with a kid. She gets hapai two more times, and the same thing happens. The father had been abusing her, and the mother looked away. It all came to a head when one night. Epi tried to kill her parents while they slept. They'd die if they didn't wake up just in time."

I shook my head and leaned back in my chair, "That's a lot of layers to get through,"

"All that was in the eighties; she's been through a string of abusive relationships, each one worse than the one before or similar," Leipili said. "I guess enough was enough at some point, and she's here,"

"Next?" I asked.

"Free Brown, that's her actual name. Not an ounce of Hawaiian, but one of those hardworking types that you always want on your side," Leipili tapped her pen on the screen. "Her girlfriend never physically abused her, but mentally and emotionally, she did a number on her, so she's here too,"

"And this Malia, is she the histrionic type too? Has to be the center of attention, provocative?" I asked.

"Malia Bentosino, former flight attendant flight instructor, worked at several of the lu'au shows, a bunch of jobs throughout her career. Shows up to work with bruises on parts of her body, quits her job, and finds another one. Her mother forced her to participate in this program; otherwise, she wouldn't have come alone."

"The last one?" I asked because I was beginning to get hungry while trying to absorb the information I was being given. 

"Lueka Payne, formally Keao. According to her close family and friends, who Lueka was as opposed to who she became after she married Raymond Keao, it was like night and day. She was skinny, not that it matters, beautiful, vibrant, and the apple of her tutu's eye. Then she met Raymond, and it all changed," Leipili began. 

"Alright," I replied. "That's all I need to know."

"Why are you doing that?" Leipili needled more than she was asking.

"Why am I doing what?" I replied.

"Well, except for Epi's story, you really haven't asked or allowed me to talk in detail about the abusers of these women," she shook her head. "Why is that? If you're worried about retaliation, their partners don't know where they're at and have no means of communicating with or locating them. Others like Lanai are here because it was recommended as part of their therapy, and a few are here because it's court-ordered, so you have no reason to be concerned,"

"Like me," I added. "I'll do what I'm required to do, but that's it. I'm not crossing the line into sitting around the campfire or baking cookies to get to know one another. I don't have to know shit about their abusers because you and I knew one pretty well until he...I don't care, so save the details for yourself,"


"Palms down, fingers of opposite hands facing each other! Elbows out, not resting against your ribs so you look like a chicken!" I commanded. "And walk, walk, walk, walk, left, right, left, right, left, right. Shoulders back, chest out, chin up! Confidence ladies! Confidence!" Simple timed walking, and they were all perspiring. "Keep your mouths closed and breathe through your nose! It Doesn't matter what comes out of your nose; breathe through it! Toes first, roll to the heel! Toes first, roll to the heel!"

They were beginning to absorb the concept of stature, how to stand tall, elongate the spine, and throw the shoulders back, immediately bringing the chest forward. Chin up as you walk, which gives you the appearance of purpose and direction so no one fucks with you. Step light on your feet like a feather, almost as if you're floating as you walk. Of course, their shoulders were killing them, but it was nothing in a month. Soon, the walk they learned in hula was the walk they did naturally without knowing they were doing it. Next was learning the kaholo. Getting the four steps to the right and left was more complex than they thought because more came with it, looking in the direction they were going. 

"Look in the direction of your right and left kaholo, not with your eyes but turning your entire head in that direction with your chin pointed over your shoulder, head back a little like you're stuck up, and you're saying, 'Whatchu looking at?' If you look with just your eyes while doing your right and left kaholo, you might as well be saying, 'Whatchu faka?' The ladies thought it was funny, but I was serious. "From now on, as you kaholo right and left, that's what I want all of you to say out loud, 'Whatchu you faka?' I made them do it that way until they stopped laughing and began saying it seriously. In a month, we moved on to hela, extending your feet to touch the surface before you at a forty-five-degree angle while moving the hip in the opposite direction. I know, pat your tummy, rub your head. It was not easy, but they got it like the timed hula walk and the kaholo. Except, when they extended their feet to touch the floor flat-footed, I had them say, 'Trip, you faka.'

Before they could move on to the other steps like kawelu, ku'i, ka'o, and the various types of kaholo, they first had to learn the taskmaster of all hula steps, the 'uwehe. Sway to the right, knees pop up in the middle, sway to the left, and knees pop up in the middle. Continue accordingly until the kumu calls for another step change, which will come on the left step. Otherwise, the 'uwehe could go on until the end of the class. 

Lanai piped in once or twice but only to ask specifics regarding the hula step. More of her dramatic stories would come during the breaks. Epi wasn't anti-social, but didn't try to communicate either. Free was cool with everyone but during the breaks she often went off to the side and practiced on her own. Malia was always being the social butterfly with the other ladies, and if she wasn't doing that she was always trying to strike up a conversation with me. Leipili guided the conversation and Malia somewhere else. Lueka, for all the basics she practiced which I knew was already in her body memory showed all the makings of her tutu 'Iliahi's teachings. For her height, and her size, she was magic. It was the one part of herself that she couldn't make small and hide in the corner somewhere. She scared me because she was most like Hauola. be continued

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