Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 18, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #88. Boy Napualawa. Asafoetida.

 I could have been better when I first joined the office.

It was part of growing and maturing. I would not argue with you in other circumstances, but our office deals with delicate life-or-death situations. I was young then and had yet to fully consider the scope of my work. I hadn't broken myself of the thought that my work was not a nine-to-five job with the weekends and holidays off and an eventual retirement plan. My work was my life; there was no separation between the two. However, as you can tell, that fact had not sunk in yet. I met Jennifer, of all places, at the Goodwill in  Wai'alae. I walked by while on the way to 3660 On The Rise for a lunch meeting with my uncles and Aunty Rita. A coat draped across the shoulder of a mannequin in the display window caught my eye. I had never seen a double-breasted one look so casual. It wasn't the kind of stuffy and stiff old men wore to their office meetings at any local banks. The coat was more now and trendy. I walked in quickly to ask for the price of the double-breasted jacket, and that's when I met Jennifer Willy. A minute previous, she was in one of the dressing rooms trying on a used wedding gown that just came in. The doorbell rang, and she remembered being the only cashier up front. She rushed to the cash register, forgetting she was still wearing the old wedding gown. "Hi, can I help you?"

"Hi," I responded. "Can you tell me how much that coat in the window costs?"

"Oh," she looked down at a list of items on a clipboard. "Thaaaaat is...oh..twenty-five fifty."

"I'll take it," I said.

"Great! I'll go get it for you." She made her way around the counter and removed the coat from the mannequin in the front window. 

"Are you an anachronist, by the way?" I asked.

"What's that?" She retorted.

"The Society for Creative Anachronisms," I answered. "They re-create 17th-century medieval stuff, knights and damsels, etc."

She was bewildered, unable to understand why I would ask her such a thing. "Uh, no, I'm not; what makes you say that?"

"Well, you're wearing that old wedding gown, so perhaps you were either getting married or you were going to convert it to one of those ladies in waiting for medieval dresses.

"Oh shit!" She immediately took the gown off without fumbling too much over herself and tripping and falling. "I uhm, I just wanted to try it on and see how it fit; anyway, the coat, er, the jacket is twenty-five fifty."

I paid her cash while she put the coat in a garment bag and handed it over. "How long were you going to stand there and say nothing while I embarrassed myself?"

"I did say something," I retorted.

"Not right away," she countered. "A decent person would have said something to save the other person from making a fool of themselves."

"But, you were already wearing the wedding gown when I walked in here," I parried, and she was unhappy. "For all I know, it could have been wearing a wedding gown day at work; I don't know the rules in this place."

"There's only one rule," her eyes were intense. "The rule of decency. Have a good day, sir."

I shrugged and walked out; I had to get to my meeting. My three elders asked me about the garment bag I had brought, and I told them about the coat from next door. My uncles commended me on my excellent work, and Aunty Rita argued that it would have cost the office nothing if we had just had lunch at her house. "I can cook ten times better than this," she grumbled. 

"Next one is at your house, Aunty," I reassured her. 

"We're already here, so we may as well eat," she smirked at everyone, particularly Uncle Tiny because he's the one that made the reservation. 

"Very soon, you'll take the lead on these cases, and we'll be there to kākoʻo," Uncle Ivan said. "Us people with the white hair cannot be in the front forever; the younger ones with the dark hair have to take the lead and guide this office to the future."

"No pressure," Uncle Tiny chuckled.

"No pressure at all," I laughed, but the three of them knew how nervous I was.

After lunch, with the garment bag still in my hand, I passed by Goodwill and saw Jennifer Willy still operating the cash register behind the counter. I walked in, and she sighed in despair the second she saw me. "You again, the indecent double-breasted coat guy."

I placed a plastic bag on the counter with an extra porterhouse steak in a styrofoam container. "Lunch, a peace offering, and my apologies, Jennifer Willy."

"Luckily, that's what's on my name tag, so no, I don't think you're a stalker," she replied." But, of course, you didn't have to do that?"

"I know," I replied. "But you looked good in that wedding gown; maybe I should have said that first instead of what I ended up saying."

"Or," she pointed at me. "Maybe you were so taken with how good I looked in that wedding gown that you couldn't help but say something stupid; maybe that's what prevented you from saying what you really meant?"

"I'm Hanson," I extended my hand over the counter.

"Jennifer," she took my hand. "You already know that," she said before asking, "So what kind of work do you do that requires you to wear a double-breasted coat?"

"Consultation," I replied. "We help people who are conflicted in certain areas of their life so they can move on and not dwell on the past."

"You sure you're not in the Hawaiian mafia or something?" She laughed half-heartedly.

"Nothing like that," I assured her. "Just ho'oponopono."

"Well, thanks for the porterhouse," she touched the plastic bag.

"Thanks for accepting it; you have a good day, Jennifer," I bowed slightly and walked out.

"You too," she said as I walked into the Wai'alae afternoon. I didn't have anywhere to go after that; I just thought it was the thing to do since I had already made my peace offering, and I didn't want things to get awkward. 

"Hanson!" I turned to see Jennifer coming out of the Goodwill, holding up the porterhouse in the plastic bag. "I'm going to sit at the bus shack across the street. I'm on my break. Did you want to join me?"

I talked to all of you initially about having to learn a few things about how my job was really my life in all aspects. If you come back for part two, you'll understand why.

While Jenny worked on her porterhouse, I went across the street to see Mr. Young at the crack seed shop to see if he had any of his unique lemon peel that day.

It's the one he told me was perfect for when you had a cold as a child. His special stash was behind the counter, and I got a quarter-pound bag. I also got a couple of drinks for myself and Jenny and returned across the street to the bus shack to join her. Gesturing her head toward the elementary school behind us, Jenny said," I went there for a little while before I went to private school. I pitched a fit when my parents told me I was going to 'Iolani. I loved this school and all my teachers; I didn't want to leave."

"Wow, so when did you transition to work at Goodwill?" I asked, trying not to sound judgemental.

"I'm the chief financial officer," she replied with a mouth full of food. "One day of the month, I work a shift at one of our locations. Today was this one where I saw a used wedding gown and thought, 'Gee, I wonder if I can fit in that thing?' Of course, I couldn't help but laugh, to which she playfully slapped me on my shoulder and exclaimed, "Oh my god! You thought I was one of the regular workers, didn't you!?"

"Is there something wrong with being a worker at Goodwill?" I feigned incredulous.

"Of course not, I'm just saying," she was befuddled now.

"What are you just saying?" I crooked my head to one side.

"Just eat your lemon peel, Hanson," she grunted. "What kind of name is Hanson anyway?"

"My father wanted to name me Hanlan after his uncle, and my mother wanted to name me Garrison, so they came to a compromise and named me Hanson," I said while sipping my drink. 

"Those were the only two choices?" Jenny asked.

"Well, no, that's not true," I laughed. "Hanson was my mother's idea; from what I understand, my father went along with it."

"Such a troublemaker, your mother," Jenny shook her head.

"What about you? How did your folks come up with Jenny?" Then, it was my turn to pry.

"The 60s' song by Donovan," she replied.

"You see? Your naming process was a lot cooler than mine," I nodded. "It matches you; you actually look like a girl from a 60s song."

"Alright, mister, more bullshit; you're spreading it a bit too thick there," she sliced the last piece of her porterhouse and popped it in her mouth. "That is some good steak, I have to say."

"Want some dessert after?" I pointed across the street to Mr. Young's. "Some Icee with ice cream at the bottom?"

"Oh god, yes," she nodded. "I could definitely go for that!"

An hour later, I walked her back to the Goodwill and saw her off at the door. We talked about everything and nothing. Our conversation was seamless, with no natural awkward pauses in between but more like an intent look at one another, not wondering how we got there, just staring with a goofy smile. "Well, thanks for lunch and a nice day," she said while I opened the door.

"It was my pleasure," I replied. "I'm happy you had fun."

We waved goodbye, and I walked off toward my car on 12th Avenue. I was so caught up in the high of our time together that I forgot to ask her for her phone number. I let out a deep sigh, realizing the depth of my ineptitude. "You're slipping, Hanson," I hissed at myself. A minute later, I was driving out of the parking lot on the Koko Head Avenue side when I saw Jenny coming out of Mr. Young's place with another big Icee cup. I popped the horn to catch her attention. "Couldn't get enough, could you?" She came over and remarked about the car I was driving. "Nice Cadillac, coupe de Ville, right?"

"Very good, yes," I laughed. 

She went around the other side to the passenger's door and got in. "Quick, there's a line of cars behind you," she was right. I held up the other cars in the parking lot, trying to get out. I took a right, and we drove around the Kaimuki Kahala neighborhood. Come to find out, she returned to Mr. Young's to see if he knew my phone number? "Oh, of course," Mr. Young told her. "Hanson's parents helped me once; I am so grateful."

"See?" She held up the back of the receipt he gave her. "I got it right here."

We parked at Kahala Beach, where we shared her Icee and talked until sunset. Then, for the second time that day, I walked her back to the store where the regular employees had already left. Then I walked her back to her car, and before we departed, I handed her a piece of paper so she could write down her number on it. "I'm sorry that you devoted the remainder of your day to a strange man you've never met before; if you let me, I can take you to dinner and make it up to you." She took the paper, wrote down her number and address, and returned it.

"Pick me up at nine," she said while folding the paper and placing it in my hand. 


All the while, I hadn't known that a case we had worked on three years ago, where we had to curse an ex-husband who had severely abused his now ex-wife and children, had reared its ugly head. Donnelly Corpuz was sentenced to ten years in jail but got out early on a technicality. His ex-wife Trisha and their children had gone into hiding, unable to find them; he would go after Uncle Ivan, Uncle Tiny, and Aunty Rita one by one. Then, he was going to come after me. Donnelly's mistake was thinking that they would be easy pickings because my uncles and aunty were kupunas. Wrong, so wrong on many levels. My uncles were masters in Lua, and my aunty Rita could cut you deep with her Pahi before you knew your esophagus was hanging out of your body. So when Donnelly finally got to me, it was terrible timing. Very terrible.

Donnelly Corpuz was a product of his environment.

Meaning that his behavior mirrored what he saw growing up. His interactions with his friends consisted of calling each other horrible names as if it were commonplace language. Being polite for Donnelly was a struggle, but it only lasted as long as he needed to apply for a job, for instance, getting a loan or while at the doctor. His relationships with women were the same, except those were always verbally and physically abusive. When the former Trisha Mendiola, now Corpuz, decided she'd finally had enough of Donnelly, she did not go to the police or seek counseling. Instead, by word of mouth, she came to our office. After carefully reviewing her case, it was merited that a curse must be placed on Donnelly. Trisha didn't want him dead for the children's sake, but she did want something to happen so he would never trouble her and the kids again. Therefore, we had to be creative. So, we used what we jokingly called the Wonder Woman curse, where Donnelly would randomly blurt out the truth about how badly he abused Trisha and why. Aunty Rita did it, but Rita waited until Trisha and the children went into protective custody. By that time, Donnelly was losing his mind, claiming that he could not live without his family and that he needed them, and that any program or counseling that could help him change, he was willing to do it. That desperation and willingness to reconstruct his habits was all for show.

The second Donnelly had Trisha back home, the abuse would start again. On a Wednesday morning, a little after 9 a.m., Donnelly exited the Alakea and Hotel street court building and stood at the crosswalk. His intent was to sit at the Jack in The Box nearby with a cup of soda and breakfast meal where he could devise his next move. It took longer than usual for the light to change, and Donnelly grew impatient, but he couldn't jaywalk because a couple of police officers were waiting to cross on the opposite side. Rita casually walked up beside Donnelly, balled up her hand into a fist, and whispered into it, "E haʻi ʻoe ka ʻoiaʻiʻo" (tell the truth). Opening her hand, a tiny black cloud of smoke sat in her palm, and Rita blew it into Donnellyʻs face. He choked and gagged while Rita walked toward Fort Street Mall, where she would grab herself a piroshki from Rhadaʻs. Finally, the light changed, and as the crowd of people crossing the street seemed to push Donnelly along with them, Donnelly stopped the two police officers coming toward him. He told them everything about how he abused Trisha for years and eventually planned to kill her to gain custody of their children. He would be arrested after agreeing to write everything down just like he said it. Donnelly was arrested and incarcerated, but his whereabouts were unknown to us. Trisha went to see Donnelly in jail. She had gone to gloat and not to reconcile. She told him everything about the curse and how it was rendered and left that news with Donnelly to make him suffer, never thinking he would be released on a technicality. Now, with no way to find Trisha, Donnelly came after us. As I said earlier, Donnelly going to the office and seeing my uncles and aunty as easy pickings because they were kupuna was a big mistake. Mind you, this was the office's early days, which means we hadnʻt yet to acquire the services of Kealoha to guard the door downstairs. Donnelly just walked in, took the birdcage elevator to the second floor, and came upon my uncles and aunty sitting outside the office door in the lobby.

Casually walking toward them, he removed a knife from his waistband. The three kūpuna stood up and made no effort to run and hide in the office. Instead, they stoically waited for Donnelly to make his move. "You're the ones who put the curse on me, to tell the truth about my Trisha, right?" He lunged at Uncle Ivan, who sidestepped him while Aunty Rita removed a snub-nosed 38. special and shot Donnelly in the knee. He crumbled to the floor, crying in agonized pain. Uncle Ivan and Tiny stood there shocked, "You mean you've been carrying a gun in your purse this whole time?"

"Yeah," Aunty Rita was bewildered as to why Ivan and Tiny were so surprised. "Why?"

"Whatchoo mean, why?" Tinyʻs veins were popping out on his head and neck. 

"Iʻm an old woman, that's why," Aunty Rita retorted. "You can never be too careful; besides, think about all the times you pissed me off when I couldʻve shot you, but I didnʻt! It's all about discretion."

While Tiny and Rita argued, Ivan grabbed Donnelly by the back of his collar, dragged him down the back stairwell, and inserted his finger into the bullet wound. Donnelly screamed in pain, but Ivan stuffed his handkerchief into Donnellyʻs mouth. "You come back here again, and we will kill you, but not before we make you suffer." Ivan kicked him downstairs, where Donnelly suffered some nasty bruises and contusions. Then, walking back up the stairs and closing the door behind him, Ivan made a phone call. A few minutes later, a dark Crown Vic drove up, and two men emerged from the vehicle, collected Donnelly to the back seat, and drove off. A thick plastic partition separated the front and back seats, and the rear doors were locked securely. He was driven half a mile past the Dole Plantation, where he was dumped on the side of the road and left to fend for himself. Someone driving by saw Donnelly and called the authorities. This time, Donnelly said nothing about what happened to him, and the police let him go. After removing the bullet at Straub, Donnelly sat in the front roundabout and thought about his next move. According to Trisha, there was one other person who was a part of this curse that was put on him. That would be me, Boy Nāpualawa.


It was an Italian place on Algaroba Street. I liked going there at night, because of how quiet it was. Luckily, Jenny liked it too. I ordered the spaghetti while Jenny had the pasta salad. The wine was magical, and everything was perfect. Even the spumoni had a hint of rum in it, but that we saved for later. I think we smiled at one another more than we talked, if Iʻm being honest; the young lady who came through with flowers to purchase caught me at the right time, and I bought a single red rose for Jenny, not knowing that I had accidentally grabbed a yellow one. She couldn't help but giggle. "Are you trying to tell me something?"

"What do you mean?" I replied.

"A yellow rose," she nodded at the flower. "Are you trying to tell me to slow down?"

"Oh geeze, I grabbed the wrong one! Iʻm sorry, Iʻll go get a red one," I got up, but Jenny grabbed my hand and made me sit.

"It's the thought that counts," Jenny smiled. "I appreciate the effort," she pulled me towards her and kissed me. Her lips were warm, and she smelled like vanilla. "Thank you," she smiled. "It means a lot."

Donnelly Corpuz sat alone with his eggplant parmesan and red wine three tables away, watching us closely. He may have even followed us after we left the restaurant.

"Any previous girlfriends before me?" Jenny slightly tickled me. "I mean, you're not a monk, and I know you've had a life up until now,"

"There was one," I replied.

"One?" She affected being shocked.

"One," I nodded. "We were together during my junior and senior year at Stanford, and then it was over."

"Tough break up, huh?" Jenny said.

"She died," I hope that wasn't too direct, but there was no reason to lie. "She hit a concrete wall, literally. She was alive long enough to say goodbye, then she was gone."

"Shit, well, that makes me feel like crap," she sighed. "I was just giving you a hard time; I didn't mean to open a can of worms."

"It's fine," I assured her. "I'm fine; you never truly get over anyone's passing who has meant something to you."

"It must have been a devastating loss? I mean, I can't imagine," Jenny said. "Uhm, change of subject! Tell me about your folks, your mom and dad? What are they like?"

"They're gone; they passed away too," I replied. 

"Oh my god!" Jenny was beside herself at how inconsiderate she thought she was, but it wasn't her fault. I had to let her know that. "I'm such an idiot! I'm so sorry, I kept saying the wrong thing, one right after the other!" 

I gently held her close while she wept. "It's alright; they're just questions; you had no idea; it's fine, perfectly fine." I sat back, looked at her, and helped her wipe her tears away. "What about you? What about your former boyfriends and your parents?"

"Very funny," she giggled while cleaning herself up. "The boyfriends always seem to run out of steam as the relationship continues. They're threatened by my position as a chief financial officer, and for some reason, as the man in the relationship, they feel they have to one-up me rather than accept me. Does that make sense?"

"It makes sense, yes," I replied.

"And my parents retired to Portland because that's where they're both from, but they met here on Oahu, got married, and had me," Jenny shrugged. "No big Hollywood story, so to say." Then there was silence between us, nothing awkward, just one of those pauses, "Can I ask you a favor?"

"Sure," I adjusted myself so that I was now fully facing her. 

"Could you hold me again? It doesn't have to be anything or lead anywhere, but I felt safe in your arms a moment ago," she said.

Without a word, I leaned forward and held on to her until she fell asleep. We were parked in front of her house with a couple of sodas in the cup holder and a bag of bugles between us. It was an excellent way to end the evening. When we awoke, the sun pierced through my car window, and we felt the heat on our faces. She let herself out of my car with an 'oh crap' and 'holy shit' as she rushed up the stairs to the double front doors of her house. There was no need for goodbye or see you later; it wasn't needed. I drove off and returned home, hoping to catch up on some sleep before heading to the office. I arrived at noon with no real case to be a part of but for a meeting. Uncle Tiny and Aunty Rita were already there waiting for Uncle Ivan. "After this, it's a day off," Uncle Tiny told me. "You can go holoholo or get some rest before seeing your honey again."

"Huh?" I feigned ignorance. 

"I know that look on your face because I had that look when I was your age," Uncle Tiny laughed.

"You still get that look on your face," Aunty Rita said. "Nothing has changed."

Uncle Ivan walked in when Uncle Tiny was prepared to light into Aunty Rita. "So, Boy, a serious development has arisen." Looking at the other two, he asked, "How long has everyone been here?"

"Tiny and I have been here an hour; we came early, and Boy just got here right before you," Aunty Rita answered.

"And nobody went to Fukuya to get okazu-ya or nothing?" Ivan was cranky if he didn't eat first thing in the morning.

"I'll go get some uncle; I'll be right back," I offered.

"No, Boy, you stay here," he said while looking at Tiny and Rita. "You two go get it while I talk to Boy; you can namunamu on your way to Fukuya,"

"Whatevah," Tiny blustered while he stood up to leave.

"Don't forget who's the one that makes the lāʻau for your thing once a month," Rita reminded him as she exited behind Tiny.

Uncle Ivan turned his attention to me and took a moment before speaking. "Donnelly Corpuz was here the other day."

"What?" That was surprising and alarming news. "How did he get out?"

"Who knows?" Ivan shrugged. "Somebody didnʻt dot a "T" or cross an "I." What matters is that he showed up here, which means that someone told him about what we did. It was Trisha, but it is what it is now; we canʻt do anything."

"So, what happened? Are you guys alright? Dammit! Why wasnʻt I here?" I was mad at myself now.

"Donʻt work yourself up over nothing; we took care of it. The point is that he's around, so you need to be careful," Ivan cautioned.

"So, you didnʻt kill him?" I asked.

"Wounded," Ivan looked me in the eye. "How you handle it should he run into you? That is your test."

Noon already; it's been two years, and it's been casually beautiful and seamless.

There are no squared corners between us; everything is a circle. There's unspoken equality; no one is less or more than the other, but it goes without saying that one wants the other to achieve the limitless sky while either Jen or I bask in the other's glory. We haven't moved in together; she's at her place, and I'm at mine. While I'm there, I treat her home with reverence and respect. I help clean up and make any needed improvements, and we have a fun time keeping her backyard and garden up to par. At my place, since it was the condo next to central union church, long before I made Aunty Rita and Tabby move into my current abode, it was Jenny's pu'uhonua. A space where she could relax and not worry about anything. She's already up and milling about in the kitchen; getting the coffee started, she sees that there's already a hot cup waiting for her.

On the counter is a fried rice and pork sausage omelet with buttered sweet bread toast on the side. When I walk into the kitchen, she's offering me her last piece of the omelet on a fork, which I gladly take. I kiss her and fire up the oven to make myself an omelet. I butter the pan and let it sit on low while cracking the eggs and mixing them in a coffee cup. Finally, the fixings are ready to go: pork sausage, chives, and fried rice are proper in the middle. But before I fold it up, I realize I've forgotten one crucial ingredient. Natto. 

"Eeeewww," Jenny exclaims. "I was all horny for ya' until the natto; now you're on your own, buddy!"

"Don't be a snob," I tell her. "Come over here and try it,"

"No!" She pulls away.

"C'mon, try it," I hold the plate up for her to take a piece, and she bolts out of her chair.

"Dude, I'm telling you to get that thing out of my face," she's holding her palm out to me.

"Or what?" I mock her. She flicks my testicles, and I must have jumped ten feet high. She runs, squealing, to my room, and I put the plate down and go after her. She's hiding behind the door and tackles me to the bed when I get there. We giggle, laugh, and roll around until we're tired again, and we fall asleep holding on to one another. Later that night, we were coming out of the theater at Kahala after watching a late movie revival about one of Kurosawa's most ambitious films. We were walking past the old Radio Shack when I glanced up and saw someone staring at us, but I gave it no attention because that person didn't seem threatening. It wasn't until we had already gotten some Cinnabon to take home that I noticed this same person was following us. He disappeared when we got to the second-floor parking lot, which made me think that I was being paranoid. However, once Jenny was in the car and I walked over to the driver's side door, there he was, blocking my way. 

"Donnelly Corpuz," I said.

"So, you actually know who I am?" He said.

"We cursed you, so of course," I replied.

"Then you know why I am here?" His eyes were wide, and his nostrils flared out.

"Don't do it, Donnelly," I cautioned him. "You go live your life into the extremities of old age because that's what you're meant to do. You deviate from that path, and everything ends here, right where you stand."

"You and your family cursed me and made me lose everything!" He screamed with the pent-up anger of many years and a lifetime of pain and abuse.

"Typical abusive liar, projecting all your faults on everyone and everything except for the one person whose fault it really is. You, Donnelly, it's your fault you lost Trisha and your kids because all you ever did was make her pay for your sins, the abuse you suffered that had nothing to do with her. If my family and I didn't place that curse on you, you would have killed her," I told him. "Now that Trisha has told you everything, you still can't accept that this is your fault, can you?"

In a fit of blind rage, he charged at me with a large bowie knife. I've been here before, being blindly charged at. I was fifteen; it happened in my room when the Lua assassins came after me, sent by Vernon Holokauahi, who later re-emerged as Joe Black. Why was the anger, hurt, and devastation returning to haunt me now? Of course, it was the night my father died while trying to protect my mother and myself. They tore his heart out with their bare hands, showing no mercy. Donnelly Corpuz reminded me of those assassins, their attitude, and their posturing. I met him halfway, and because of my years of training in Lua, taught to me by my parents, I inserted my hand into Donnelly's sternum and removed his liver. In deference to the god Ku'i-a-lua, I consumed the liver and chewed first before swallowing it. My hands were still glowing red and then blue; I had to control my breathing to calm my Kū energy before doing more damage. When I stood up and turned around, Jenny was there with a catatonic expression on her face. Seeing my mouth and neck covered in blood, I can only imagine what she must have thought and felt. She ran off, and I couldn't stop her; what would I say? How was I going to explain it?


She's not answering my calls and won't come to her door when I arrive at her house. Her secretary told me that she's not accepting any calls or visitors. Neither has she shown up at the Goodwill. Luckily, my uncles and aunt let this be my problem to address; they weren't going to step in, although technically, they could. There was no explanation she could accept because how do you explain something like that to someone who is not a part of the kind of circle you move in? When was I going to tell her? Sooner? Later? It was my fault; I fooled myself into thinking that this was the kind of life I could have until the reality of what I do for a living showed up at a mall parking lot. There was only one way to rectify everything. I got a second car, one that is unassuming, a green Toyota Camry, which is easy to steal so that no one gives it a second look.

When I followed Jenny from her office. She stopped at the Boston Pizza to make an order; I parked across the street at Tamura's and walked over to the opposite corner at 10th and Wai'alae. The second I saw Jennifer receive her pizza, I timed it so I would meet her at her car once she came out. First, I poured a powder called Asafoetida from North Africa into my hand. Commonly known as Devil's dung, it's sometimes used as tea. In voodoo, it's used to make someone leave another person alone or forget. Next, I closed my fist, and as I approached Jenny, she only had a second to turn around and realize it was me. I whispered the word "Poina" (forget) in my closed palm, and then, while opening my palm, I blew the asafoetida into her face. It spread from her forehead to her cheeks and down to her chin. She choked and gagged for a second, cleared her eyes, and looked at me with bewilderment. 

"Iʻm sorry," I apologized. "You looked like you were choking, so I came over to see if you were alright?"

"Thank you, Iʻm fine," she stuttered.

"Here," I held up the box of pizza to her. "You almost dropped this."

I know youʻre asking yourself why I didnʻt use the Hawaiian method? It was too powerful; it would have wiped her clean, not only of her memory but also of everything. She would be like a child, having to start over from day one. 


Today. 15 years later.

The line at the Penny Market is just a short one; I have some shanks of beef ready to take home and saute in whiskey before I throw them on the grill. It was my turn to cook dinner for the office. My uncles and aunty like this steak, but so does Tabby. She likes it with cloves of steamed garlic on the side. There is a bit of a hold-up ahead; the woman's credit card isnʻt working when she swipes it. I reach over and insert my card, and pay for it. The woman is stunned and then thankful, "It's on me," I tell her. "You have a nice evening with your family."

"Please give me your number or your Venmo so I can pay you back," she begged.

"You take care of your family; that's how you pay me back; otherwise, no worries," I assure her. She leaves tearfully with her two children in tow, waving at me and smiling.

"That was very decent of you, sir," the cashier says quietly. 

"It's just money," I reply. "We canʻt take it with us, so we might as well share it."

I pay for my shanks and wait for my receipt. The cashier thanked me again, and I moved out of the way for the next customer. I glance at her briefly and see that the name tag reads, "Jenny."

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