Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 9, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #49 Hauola Pt. 2

The service at Hawaiian Memorial was standing-room only.

Hauola's casket was covered in a thin white veil as Leipili was concerned that too many people may have wanted to kiss her daughter one last time because of how much she was loved.

Chants that were on the program were offered, as well as impromptu chants from mourners. Hula was also offered, and Hawaiian music played constantly unless someone scheduled to speak would do so. Leipili decided that there would be no eulogy. She felt it was a Western concept and that Hauola would only be gone in the flesh but that her mana would remain among friends and family, so she kept her daughter's mea hula. Kiki perched herself on Hauola's casket, and Tutua lay beneath it on the floor; both remained undisturbed. There was no graveside service, and after the viewing, no one was sure what was to be done with her body because nothing was said about it. After it was all done, Kiki flew out of the funeral parlor, and Tutua walked out of the chapel and through the cemetery until he disappeared into the tall line of trees.

Meanwhile, the halau stayed behind, keeping Hauola company until it was time to go. At least, that was my understanding of the events. I did not attend, so Leipili has not spoken to me all these years. I stand corrected; she did talk to me after showing up at the halau, hoping to find me. To her surprise and that of many others, the halau door was locked and boarded up with a for-sale sign under the name of a local realtor. A short time later, she was pounding on my front door but left disappointed, realizing I was not home even though my car was in the garage. It was purely by accident that she saw me sitting at the Starbucks while in her car at the intersection, waiting for the light to change. She went around the block and returned to the parking lot, where she would ambush me while I walked back home. It shocked me because I'd never experienced Leipili being so furious. Her eyes bulged with anger while tears fell simultaneously. Her nose flared, and a crooked wrinkle furrowed her brow. Her teeth were bare as if she intended to have me for dinner, tearing my flesh from the bone. I had no idea she knew so many swear words; she might have created an entirely new lexicon of cuss vocabulary that day. This state of being is completely different from the broken-hearted grief she expressed on the night when Hauola any case, I've never seen her angry like this. I continued walking home, ignoring her while she ranted and raved, waving her arms about, gesturing and pointing, and coming close to hitting me several times. I was finally walking into my garage when she grabbed me by my arm and spun me around to face her. 

"And why the hell did you close up the halau?! If you want to honor Hauola and remember her, leave the halau open! Closing it up is like closing yourself off to her memory!" She was pleading more than screaming now. "You of all people, her kumu, our kumu; you should have been there today of all days, and you were not; this whole time prepping for her service, you were nowhere to be found. We all needed you. How come you wasn't there?"

"I should never have encouraged you to dance hula for me when you were a student in my Hawaiian studies class at Ke'elikolani. I knew you had your hands full with all your other courses and with Volleyball and Softball, but I lured you away with hula, and you turned out to be the best of all my haumana. Then you met Rob Taketa, you two got married, you got hapai, and you asked me if you could take a break from hula. I said yes, but I kept needling you repeatedly to remember hula. When you returned, you didn't come alone. This is all my fault; I've been selfish, thinking only of hula. It's what cost Hauola her life. My selfishness led to it; I only cared about the competition, winning, and showing off the best dancer I ever had, not once considering anyone's personal situation. I'm just as selfish as that boy who shot her; I may as well have done it myself," Leipili had no reply. She looked down briefly, shook her head, and walked away. I haven't seen or spoken to her since. Has it been ten years? Fifteen, twenty? Maybe it just feels like it.

Since then, I've immersed myself in my work at the Department of Health. I kept to myself, not socializing but simply existing in my little cubicle where I'd have my home-prepared lunch. I'd walk two blocks down to the 7-11 on Queen Street if I needed a break or to the lunch wagon on Mililani Street. I'd have to walk through the state capitol and the palace grounds to get there. Sometimes, I'd walk into a hula performance of some kind and would mute it out entirely. Other times, Hawaiian activists would offer hula pahu to the Queen's statue, which I would re-route myself to a little mom-and-pop place on Hotel Street. I had my ways of coping.

One day, I stayed late at work, way past 6 p.m. I was famished, so I headed to the Ala Moana food court, where I treated myself to four large slices of Pizza and an equally large drink. I sat there looking at no one and nothing. Mostly, I kept my head down, flipping through my phone as it lay on the table before me. Mindlessly scrolling through the news feed, I was momentarily distracted when the janitor pushed past my table and bumped it quite hard. He muttered an apology but kept going. He took a shortcut through the food court to get to a trash bin on the opposite side. I regarded him as anyone else would, who had been rudely interrupted. I looked at him again and felt a bit of familiarity, as if he were someone I knew, like a co-worker or former hula haumana. When I realized who he was, I had already begun walking in his direction without knowing I was doing it. On the way, I grabbed five food trays and placed one on the other. It was Keala Manning, the beautiful Haole, Hawaiian boy who stole Hauola's heart and later put three bullets through it. He was a first-time offender, so the judge gave him a commuted sentence of house arrest. Here he was, five years after that, working a menial job at a mall food court and not for Manning Construction, which his father owned. Old dad didn't think much of his son being a hula dancer and now as a murderer? Besides calling in a favor with the judge, Jacob Manning wanted nothing to do with Keala if he could help it. Keala's mother did her best to guide her wayward son. Five layers of these heavy plastic trays should make up for a commuted sentence when he should have been dead, too. 

An eye for an eye.

The overhead swing worked best, not from the side. Overhead brings down all the weight and momentum I need. Crash! Right on the top of his skull! He went down in a heap. All he could do for the rest of the time was cover-up. I saw him trying to recover and get to his feet, but I cut him off. Stepping on his hands, stomping on his ankles. It all came out, the pent-up years of self-hate and grief. Keala was a bloody mess, but he was still alive. That's what the police told me while they cuffed me and booked me for third-degree assault. I posted my bail and was given a court date where I had to appear before the judge. When that date came, and I stood before the court, I noticed my supervisor, Daniel Valesquese, sitting in the pews. The time came for me to stand beside my public defender with the prosecution on the other end. Judge Imamoto looked at my paperwork and then looked up at me for a few minutes without saying anything. I could see his wheels turning. 

"Charles Kalani Pakalana," he spoke as if he were considering the weight of my name. "Aren't you that Kumu Hula?"

"Yes, your honor," I answered.

"That unfortunate incident where a hula student was killed during one of your hula classes, that was you?" He was trying to verify. 

"Yes, your honor," I didn't need to be reminded, considering what happened.

"The young man you assaulted was the one who murdered that girl, yes?" He was pressing for sure.

"He was your honor," suppressing these emotions proved difficult.

"It's your first offense, third-degree assault. No matter your reasons, Kalani and I can sympathize, but it is still assault, and I can send you to jail. You understand this, yes?" He asked.

"Yes, your honor," I nodded.

"Is Daniel Valsquese in this courtroom?" The judge bellowed. 

My supervisor stood up and raised his hand, "Present, your honor,"

"Approach the bench, if you will," Daniel made himself present, standing next to me, hands clasped in front of him. "Just so you know, Mr. Pakalana, I am not asking you; I am telling you. I will wave the fine for this case so that you can work with a program I believe would benefit greatly from your experience as a kumu hula. Your supervisor is here to make sure that you follow through."


"Hula as therapy for women recovering from abuse, that's the program?" I couldn't believe it.

"It's a new program, and it's one of the ways in which the program believes that these women can become self-empowered through Hawaiian culture," Daniel explained.

"The last time I helped empower someone, they ended up dying in my arms!" I was nearly face-to-face with my supervisor.

"You don't have a choice!" Daniel countered. "Judge Iwamoto was very lenient today. Luckily, my father is the doctor who delivered the judge's five children, so I called in a favor when I found out what happened. The other thing is your inability to get along with others at work. You've been transferred laterally three times already. This is your last rodeo, Kalani. You either do this program or don't have a job."

"Who came up with this stupid idea, anyway?" I growled.

Daniel removed his phone from his shirt pocket and scrolled until he found the name. "It's the program supervisor, Leipili Kalama." be continued.

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