Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 14, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #54. Hauola Pt.7.

"I played for a community women's league softball team,"

That's where I met Mandy. I was already in a relationship with my high school boyfriend, so it was never the classic lesbian tale of never feeling quite right with a man. I loved Douglas. I loved everything about him, and the sex was always mind-blowing," Free began. "But I had never met someone so confident and sure about herself until I met Mandy. She was always like a warrior among warriors leading the charge, and everyone just followed along. We won a league tournament against this team from Texas, and man, they were tough. We were at war, beating them by the skin of our asses. There was a big celebration at Shooters bar, and the whole league and their families and friends were there. Doug was there, and we sat together with Mandy. There wasn't any sign that something was happening between us, but the second Doug excused himself to the bathroom, Mandy came and sat next to me, and the next thing I knew, we were making out. It happened as naturally as breathing. We were living together for a week, and I hadn't told Doug about it at all,"

"I guess when it's right, it's right," Epi shrugged.

"Don't you see?" Lanai said. "Mandy got her head spinning that she didn't have time to think,"

"Is that what it was?" Epi asked.

"It's the classic sign," Lueka nodded.

"Can you guys not interrupt her, please?" Malia scolded. "Get to the sex; tell us what that was like?"

"No," Free shot down Malia's need for lust. "Doug was heartbroken when I told him, but in the end, he let go and moved on. The next six months were hell. When we weren't fighting, we were fucking, and then there was the jealousy, the accusations of cheating or talking to other women on the team. The mental abuse started in the third month. She was good at it, like one of those military torture tests except more cerebral. Then, the apologies, the making up, and the cycle starting over again. She had me so twisted in six months that I didn't know who I was. Believe it or not, coming here was Doug's idea,"

"Awwww! Such a good guy!" Lanai crooned.

"So few of them," Epi sighed. "What about you, Lanai? I already shared my family abuse story, so what about yours?"

"Nothing to tell, really," Lanai shook head and hunched her shoulders. "You meet someone who says they're in complete support of your dreams, so you marry him. Then, you discover that he meant he'd support your dreams after you supported his first. Turns out that your support is never enough. He ignores you the second you enact or mention the dream that you would like to undertake. If you bring it up a third time, he beats the shit out of you. That's the long and short of it, really,"

"You wanted to be Ms. Aloha Hula," Free understood now, as they all did.

"Never got the chance," A single tear came first, then the rest. Lanai was trying to change the subject after obliquely sharing why she'd made up a whole story about nearly being a Ms. Aloha Hula contestant. "Do you still sing opera, Epi?" 

"It's too much of a trigger, so I don't. I mean, I can't," she said. "After everything that it is."

Everyone turned their attention to Malia to hear her story, which she was unprepared to tell. "Men," she laughed. "They think they own you, or they want to own you. Who says men are the only ones who can sleep around without consequences? Women can, too; we just have to be smart about it. I have yet to meet a smart man who understands the double standards,"

"Hmmm, I don't understand it," Free shook her head. "Something's not right,"

"What do you mean?" Malia was offended.

"It sounds like you're doing it out of revenge," Lanai said.

Epi leaned forward, "I agree. No one asks to be abused,"

Lueka said nothing. She just kept herself small and twiddled her fingers slowly. Lanai thought she saw Lueka give Malia a look, like for her to be quiet. She wasn't sure if it was out of irritation on Lueka's part or because of something between them. She let it go because she couldn't put her finger on it. 


"Tell them what?" Malia was incredulous. "What?"

"Last chance," Leipili offered. "There's not going to be a third time,"

Malia crossed her legs, flipped her hair behind her shoulder, and looked at her wristwatch. "Two seconds later, I still don't know what you're talking about."

"You know what? I'm not going to be an asshole," Leipili began. "Follow me and kumu to my office, now!"

Leipili went with Malia behind her, and I followed last. "Go ahead and keep warming up; we'll be right back."

Malia sat with her attitude intact, trying to figure out what Leipili was on about. I was clueless as well. 

"My supervisor has two cousins that he's close to. One is the chief of police, and the other is a court judge. Not too long ago, two people were busted for open lewdness at the Thomas Square bathrooms, which was upgraded to prostitution when it was found that money was exchanged. After they were arrested and processed, there was confusion about whether they should be put in the men's holding cell or the women's. It gets more interesting when the two are standing before the judge because, purely by coincidence, the chief of police is sitting in the courtroom along with my supervisor, who tells his HPD cousin that there's a new program that he was just put in charge of, but that he wants to make it go away. The HPD cousin tells him that the best way to destroy something is from the inside. So, inside our hula program, we have two moles. Malia Bentosino, and Lueka Payne. Or, should I say, Mark Bentosino and Lucas Payne? On the day of the ho'ike, when all the ladies are supposed to speak about how this program helped heal them, Marc and Lucas will get up and reveal themselves as transgendered. Of course, it's the new millennium, and everyone supports pride. Still, this nefarious thing would be to show how flawed our program is if two men posing as women could get in undetected as women who were recovering from abuse."

"Which one of the three has something over your heads?" I asked Malia. "Leipili's supervisor, one of his two cousins, or both?"

"All three," Lueka answered from the partially opened door. Behind him were Lanai, Free, and Epi. 

"Fucking myna bird," Malia tisked.

Leipili was on Malia before we knew it. It happened so fast we didn't have time to stop her. She grabbed Malia by the collar of his top and pinned him up to the wall. No matter how much he struggled to escape, Maila couldn't move. "I don't care what you identify yourself as, but I identify you and your friend as two pieces of shit! My daughter was killed by her boyfriend, and she died in my arms, and you two muther fuckers have the nerve to come here and subvert everything! Especially you, Mark! You and your fucking wanna-be runway model attitude!"

"Lei," I gently put my hands on her arms and slowly coaxed her away from killing Malia. "Come, come, come, calm down, calm down," I motioned for everyone to leave the office, but to Malia and Lueka, I pointed at them. "Don't the two of you fucking leave, we're not done,"

As Leipili cried out of frustration, hurt, and furious anger, I knelt before her and held her hands in mine. "Hauola came to me in my dream, and she told me we must forgive each other; otherwise, this program won't succeed. She said it wasn't needed, but she forgave me. She said she was going to see you next,"

Leipili's expression changed, and her tears were different now. She covered her hands in her face and cried so mournfully that all the pain she kept in spilled out. We held on to one another, crying, regretting, and apologizing. "It didn't make sense last night, but in my dream, Kiki and Tutua stood outside my front door. I let them in, and the next thing I knew, Hauola was there,"

"I want you to listen to me; I have an idea," I told her.

...Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of this 8-part story.

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