Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Nov 19, 2016

"Liza"




No one expected Liza to die so suddenly, much less in the middle of a conversation. It was a weekend hula class for those students who wanted to improve their dance skills. If the kumu deemed them proficient, they were allowed to join the advanced Tuesday evening class. It had been nearly two years of hard work until Liza had finally achieved the skill of nuance within her transitional movements. It was the subtlety of the connecting motions which gave the hula its hypnotic magic. One can only imagine how elated Liza was when her kumu embraced her in front of her hula brothers and sisters and told her that she was ready to join the advanced dance. Everyone was genuinely excited for Liza and as they each hugged her and expressed their well wishes. In the din of happy noises and laughter that filled the hula studio, Liza leaned in close to her kumu to thank her for her patience, while expressing her gratitude, Liza collapsed on the floor and died of a massive brain aneurysm. The atmosphere suddenly went from joyous to heartbreaking. The kumu was so devastated that the hula was canceled for a month. When class resumed the following month, everything was back to normal, except for the weekend hula class. Whenever the kumu arrived early to open the door to the studio, the room would already be icy cold even before the a/c had been turned on. Students always had a strange feeling while dancing, as if they were either being watched or that they could hear someone breathing right next to them.  The kumu began to notice that within the three rows of ten students each, there always seemed to be an empty spot in the third line on the far left. Stopping the class in their tracks and directing them not to move, the kumu would walk to where the empty spot was, but each time she approached the line, there would be an even number of ten dancers. Eventually, she let it go and thought nothing of it. However, one night in the middle of her regular hula class, she directed her dancers to face the mirrors on the wall, in order to practice their smiles. All of sudden, there were loud piercing screams and the class scattered toward where the kumu stood for protection. There, in the mirror looking out at her hula sisters and her kumu, was Liza. She looked confused and lost, a second later, she faded away.

The Kumu realized that because Liza had died so suddenly, literally in the middle of a conversation with her, that she probably didn’t even know that she was dead. The hula class ended early that night and the Kumu returned the next day with her alaka’i and a kahu. They performed a blessing ritual that lasted for several hours, it was meant to help Liza’s spirit move on.

However, just for the sake of precaution, the kumu moved her hula class to Hawai’i Kai.






Nov 15, 2016

"Ho'i"

There’s a story about a little boy named Kaipo who went looking for his dog in the forest just beyond his backyard in Manoa. He was so concerned when he saw his puppy run just past the big trees that he naturally followed after him, but he did not tell his parents where he was going. A neighbor saw the boy run into the woods but thought nothing of it, naturally thinking that the boy's parents were going to call after him. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, that the neighbor noticed that the boy had not returned. He immediately went next door, to alert the boys his neighbors as to what just happened. Just as he knocked on the front door, the boy appeared at the bottom of the steps behind the neighbor, simultaneously, the boy's parents opened the front door. Both the parents and the neighbor were shocked to see that the boy's hair had grown past his knees and that his clothing was worn, tattered and very old. The neighbor was shocked because the boy had only been gone for less than five minutes. The parents were equally as shocked because the clothes that their son wore, was the clothes he had on when he left the house to go play in the back yard. They’d just bought it brand new from the store, two days previous. When his parents asked their son the whereabouts of his dog, he related a strange tale.

He said he chased his puppy, Kenny, when he saw him run out of the backyard and into the forest. He hadn’t gotten too far from his house when he found the dog, and he wasn't concerned because he could still see his home from where he was standing. He said that suddenly a fog came through the trees and covered everything, making it hard to see. I thought if he just walked toward where he'd just seen his house before the fog rolled in, that he would be home in no time. Except that when the fog finally cleared, he wasn’t at home, he was standing in the middle of a Hawaiian village. There were people there and they all spoke Hawaiian and looked at him strangely, but no matter the circumstances, they took him in and he became a part of the village or the larger ohana. He learned how to hunt, fish, and even helped when the men went in the mountains to take down a big koa tree that would eventually become a canoe. He talked about the kinds of prayers and ritual that were performed before the might tree came down. All the men hauled the big acacia to the waters near a place called Kalia where it was carved and hewn by the expert canoe makers. He then said, that as he got older he took a wife and had children and that he lived peacefully under the protection of their Konohiki who took good care of them. Kaipo also recalls going down to a bay called, "Mamala" where he would trade Kalo, 'opae and a variety of medicinal plants for fish and salt. He knew the names of all the moon phases and the proper nights when planting and harvesting should take place, or when fishing was best. There were also nights when one stayed home and remained silent, for those particular nights were kapu to the gods. He also mentioned with great sadness that one of his four sons was taken to be sacrificed at a heiau called, "Kane La'au" while another son left with a group of men a few years later, on a fishing expedition. That son, and the men were never seen again. There were happy times as well, the birth of his 'Mo'opuna' as he called them, filled his days with joy and laughter. He and his remaining two sons were participants in skirmishes here and there when small raiding parties from Kaua'i or Maui would sneak into their village to claim victims for their newly built temple.Taking the life of another human being was devastating but it was neccessary to the survival of his family and the families of others. He had lived to the extremities of old age and had finally prepared himself to die, his wife, children, and grandchildren were gathered around him as he took his last few breaths. Suddenly, a Kaula or seer appeared in his home and knelt at his side and uttered a simple phrase in Hawaiian,

“Ho’i”

Return

Kaipo then said, when he came to he was lying on the ground in his back yard, still the same as he was before he chased after his puppy, Kenny. When his parents asked him again as to the whereabouts of his pet, the boy simply replied that the dog, like himself, had lived a long life and died of old age.

“It was the strangest thing,” the neighbor told me. “But it’s as true as I am 94 years old.”


Nov 9, 2016

"Mendicants"


It was a daring thing to meet in public but times were desperate and the phone call was very urgent. The place was a combination of a coffee shop, sushi eatery, and a smoothie joint. It was a place to see and be seen, business meetings were brokered and lovers and potential divorcees met there because, in love, it was exciting. In break-ups, it was in a public enough place that no one would try anything stupid. Otherwise, you could just sit there and nurse your coffee while you had sushi and finished off the moment with a strawberry smoothie. As Richard and I approached a table, we had already assembled a couple of drinks and a bit of food between us. For me it was a platter filled with a variety of sushi and an orange drink, for Richard it was a latte and a scone and his old leather bag which he carried with him everywhere. He placed the bag next to his left leg but forgot to cover it with the flap. We were two extreme opposites but we were born from the same fraternity, it was in that fraternity that we took a common oath of brotherhood. It was that path that brought us to the meeting in which we sat in a very public place. Words were not exchanged right away, instead, we began to partake of our drinks and food. At some point, we removed our rings and placed them in the middle of the table. It symbolized that only the truth would be spoken between the two of us.

“You don’t come up for air?” Richard asked as I began eating.

“Don’t criticize my eating habits and I won’t pick on your minimalist personality,” I replied.

“Less is more,” Richard always tried to make every moment a teachable one.

“Less is less, it’s never more unless there’s more,” I replied. “Otherwise, it’s less,”

“In any case, let’s get to the matter at hand,” he continued.

“I agree, what are we talking about?” I asked.

“Mendicants,” Richard stated.

“Mendicants?” This was confusing, even for Richard who was so meticulously anal.

“They’ve been hovering around the lodge lately, creating a scene and cursing people who won’t give alms, so to say,” Richard took a bite of his scone, which was followed by a sip of his latte. “We’ve been assigned to do something about it, clean it up as it were,”

“Clean it up?” I asked. “We can’t just call the cops and have them removed or at least put a restraining order on these beggars?

“Mendicants are transients, even if they were served, how could they possibly find the transportation to appear in a court of law? The directive has come from above that you and I are to rectify the situation.” Richard sat back and took everything in before he continued. “With prejudice, was the directive,”

“That’s a bit of overkill for a small group of mendicants, don’t you think?” I asked as I finished off my last kampyo maki.

“No matter the cause, we are obligated,” Richard reminded me.

We retrieved our rings and placed them on our fourth finger. Our meal and drinks were finished and we made our exit from the establishment in opposite directions.

….


Richard’s job was simple, he was to wait until the lunch hour the next day when people from the nearby buildings would pass our front doors as they were going to and from their break. The mendicants would take that opportunity to stop those innocent pedestrians and beg them for money to the point of assault. Richard would then open our front doors and invite the beggars in for a hearty meal and drinks. He was to let them have their fill until the point of gluttony. The food and drinks were poisoned and their death would be imminent within an hour of eating.

….

My job was then to bring the bodies upstairs to our ceremonial room where they would be prepared for the ritual of giving, consequently, our problem would be solved. That was the plan, but something caught my eye during my meeting with Richard. He is very meticulous in regards to the smallest detail, and for Richard, it is completely out of character for him to not cover his leather bag. Normally, his bag is belted and clicked, so why is it that today of all days, it's carelessly left open? The one thing that Richard is not, is cavalier. Was it meant for me to see the gun in his leather bag and two full clips next to it? I had to find out.

I caught up to him just as he was about to open the door to his Jaguar.

“What’s the gun for?” I asked him.

Richard jumped and let out a yell, “Dammit! Don’t do that!”

“What is the gun for Richard?” I asked him again.

“I can’t tell you, rather, I’m not supposed to,” Richard was stammering and perspiring at the same time.

“You mean we had our rings out on the table and you were lying?” I asked him.

When it became apparent that Richard wasn't going to respond, I gave him an uppercut to the gut. He threw up a combination of his latte and scone all over his slip on deck shoes. I caught him before he dropped to the pavement and pushed him over into the passenger's seat of his car. I tossed his leather bag into the opened garbage bin at the other end of the parking lot and removed his car keys from his pocket afterward. I turned the engine over and let the air conditioning run so that we wouldn’t have to spend the next few minutes sitting in a sweat box. I reached across his pitiful form and closed his door and then mine.

I gave him another quick shot to his floating rib just so that I could put an exclamation at the end of my question. It seemed to get the point across.

“What is the gun for Richard?!”

Barely able to breathe my fraternal brother struggled to catch his breath.

“It wasn’t meant to kill you, just to renew your sense of purpose in case you had a change of heart,” Richard moaned

“I’m having a change of heart right now,” I replied as I brought my knuckles into his knee cap. He howled in pain and doubled up into a fetal position with his head awkwardly pressed up against the door handle.

“Your problem Richard is that in your arrogance, you think that everyone else around you is stupid. This is too much effort for just a small group of mendicants, who could have easily been scared off through legal means. Tell me what the fuck is going on?”

I lifted his left arm and punched him in a sweet spot known as the funny bone. It was enough of a blow to cause excruciating pain, but not enough to break the arm at the joint. I had to keep the pain coming, I couldn’t let up and give him a moment to think. It was important to instill the genuine fear that I was going to kill him at any moment.

“It’s bigger than the both of us, I can’t tell you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you do to me. If we don’t follow the directive, what they’ll do is infinitely worse.” Richard was in tears now.

“This is a setup?” The fury was rising in my chest.

“Not if we perform the task that has been allotted us, that’s all we have to do and we’ll be fine,” He reassured me.

“And if I don’t do it?” I asked.

“There is no ‘IF” you fool! We HAVE to do it! If we don’t they’ll kill everyone we know, everyone,” Richard made sure that he spoke slowly. “Everyone,”

“How high up is this? Is it higher than our grand enclave?” I was pointed now.

“There are people in higher positions than those of our enclave! Do I have to spell it out? There’s a purpose that we are not aware of, but we have to do what we are told, there isn’t a choice,” Richard was finally regaining his composure. “If you don’t believe me, just look outside your home. There are cars parked there, that were not there before. It’s not random, it’s not someone who has stopped to deliver a text, it’s them. If you refuse, the men that are parked in those cars have been directed to kill your entire family in front you. Whatever they have planned for you, they will save it for last. They’ll keep you alive as long as possible but at some point, you will die and it will be painful.”

“How do you know all this?” I was scared but I couldn’t show it.


“ I was approached after enclave one night . I refused to do what they asked just as you did now, one night these strange men walked into my home and killed my dogs first and then my mother last. Don’t you see? I had no choice, and they chose you to help me so you haven’t any choice either. Just do as they ask and everything will be fine.” Richard urged.


“Alright,” I said as I leaned back and opened the driver's side door and got out. “If there are some strange cars parked on my street, I’ll know that what you say is true. If not, expect an unannounced visit from me,”

…..

I left Richard to himself so that he could recover from the pain I inflicted on him. I couldn’t have gotten into my car any sooner but I had to be cautious as I turned up my street. Sure enough, there were two strange cars parked in front of my house. They were two old Lincoln Mark IV’s, they stuck out like a sore thumb on a street filled with Toyota Tacoma’s and Lexus sedans. Approaching the sidewalk which led to my front door, I entered my home cautiously. My wife was at work, the grandchildren were in school and our son and wife were at work as well.  However, I could see that we had company. They were sitting at the kitchen table; clean cut men in suits and ties. They were expecting me.

“Did he fall for it?” The first man asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“I don’t think that brutal force was necessary,” The second man interjected.

“I had to be convincing,” I replied. “I didn’t know of any other way,” I said. “Besides, who are the two of you to judge in terms of brutal force? After all, you killed his pets and his mother,”

“Well, I didn’t mean it in that context,” the second man began, but I cut him off.

“Please, think before you say anything,” I said as I shot him a look of disgust. “In any case, the empty lot next door to our lodge is set for construction. These mendicants will be perfect for the ritual use of our future building. We’ll bury their bodies under the four corners of the property and then we’ll have the giving ritual. It’s perfect. Richard will be buried under the front entrance since he is the descendant of the first grand high priest of our enclave, it is only fitting that he join his ancestors.”

“Great planning,” The first man was impressed.

“It’s the human ego, as long as you allow people to think that they are smarter and better than you are, it eventually becomes their own undoing,” I smiled. “All it took was a small group of mendicants,”


Nov 8, 2016

“Auld Lange Syne Maka’i



The owners of the longtime drug store wanted discretion in the matter, they didn’t even want their employees to know, but that was impossible because everyone who worked the graveyard shift had seen the ghosts of the two men. One was a Hawaiian police officer dressed in the old olive drab uniform, the other was that of a local Japanese man wearing a white buttoned down short sleeved white shirt with a black tie. Their spirits weren’t doing anything, in particular, they would just appear randomly and scare the holy hell out the workers. They were wondering if there was anything I could do to help?

I thought this case would be a good break for the Grant Society. We needed something simple like this after months of working on cases that required exorcisms while simultaneously exposing frauds who claimed to be psychics and healers. Those cases kept coming back to back; couple that with a secret government entity that kept tabs on us and you’ve got a recipe for burnout.

We needed this.

Smitty and his wife Leslie were the new editions from Illinois, Smitty was a full blown psychic who was a former police officer. I put him in contact with the historian at H.P.D. Leslie, his wife was a librarian and a damned good one at that. She and my wife Tanya got along really well. Being that Tanya is a lover of books and has a thing for cataloging, they’d become the wonder twins of the Dewey decimal system. Their job was to pull up old maps and land titles from the time before the great mahele. If they had to, they would also have to explore books such as sites of ‘O’ahu for any references to legends or things spiritual or otherworldly. Like Spencer, Renson was away at school in order to complete is Ph.D. while Aisha remained at home. She was promoted to a manager position at her place of employment which took up most of her time. Todd was working a frantic twenty four hours a day at traffic court, trying to set a foundation for himself so that he could retire early. Smart young people, all of them. They had their whole life ahead of them and the Grant Society would always be here, whenever they needed us.

My job was to talk to all of the eyewitnesses and compare first hand accounts. It turns out that nothing was different and no one report stood out from the others, it was all the same. The ghosts of the two men would appear randomly during the graveyard shift, sometimes in the aisle way, other times in the walk-in freezer, but most times in the upstairs office when the manager was by himself. The only place that the two ghosts would not manifest was in the pharmacy.
Strange.




Two nights later when the team assembled at the drug store, we’d reached an understanding with the management staff that we would roam the store incognito and not arm ourselves with any recorders or video. We didn’t want to alarm any customers or cause the establishment to lose business. Before we did that, Smitty stepped forward and presented his findings from his research.

Before the place was a drug store it was a market that had been in the area for years, right up until 2011. The original family couldn’t compete anymore with the super stores that were popping up everywhere. They were finally forced to sell to the well known drug store chain.



In 1964, two armed robbers walked in to the market and took all of the cashiers and the store manager hostage and locked them in the upstairs office. When one of the stock clerks, a man by the name of Nagata, resisted and fought back, one of the robbers, a Haole man named Hans Schimmer, shot the stock clerk in the back and killed him instantly. An eye witness who was leaving the old store at the time that the crime occurred, contacted H.P.D. when she heard the gun shot. Dispatch put out the call and not less than five minutes later, eight police officers would converge on the scene. The first to arrive was officer Ekala, a big bear of a Hawaiian man, he burst into the upstairs office and exchanged gun fire with the hostage takers. The other criminal was a man by the name of Vincente Arelio, who managed to shoot the officer in the sternum. To his horror, the bullet wound did nothing to slow officer Ekala down. In fact, the Hawaiian police officer picked up the frightened criminal over his head and threw him into the wall and knocked the wind out of him.

Hans Schimmer was a boxer in his youth in Germany. When officer Ekala headed for him, Hans threw a right cross and Ekala met his fist with his forehead, thus breaking Hans hand. Much of the excitement was over by the time that the other officers arrived, meanwhile, Ekala had taken a seat next to the store managers desk where he began to take a statement. The procedure was less than a minute in, when the store manager noticed officer Ekala’s blank stare. He had suddenly gone pale, when the store manager waved leaned forward and waved his hand in front of the officer’s face, he also noticed a very large dark stain on the officer’s uniform. Ekala was dead, he’d bled to death literally in the performance his duty. The wound was fatal but in all the excitement, Ekala must have had such an adrenaline rush that he probably didn’t even realize he’d been shot. Which meant that, as far as Ekala’s mind was concerned, he was still alive.


Smitty and I took the back of the store and slowly worked our way to the front. Leslie and Tanya would start from the upstairs since the most traumatic part of the event happened in the old managers office. With the exception of a few drunk college kids staggering in to the establishment for more liquor, the night was uneventful. Things didn’t really get interesting until the four ‘o clock hour. There was an obvious shift in the air and the store smelled like ozone.

“We got a shift,” Smitty cued in.

“Ten-Four,” I replied.

“Uh we have company up here in the office,” Tanya squeaked in.

“I thought the store manager left for the night?” I asked.

“Iiiiiit’s Smitty’s police officer friend from 1964,” Leslie’s voice was shaking.

“Alright,” I started out calmly. “You know what to do, the both of you can see him so that means he’s telepathically projecting himself to you. That means that you can all communicate,”

“Communicate,” Smitty buzzed in. “Start talking to him and tell him what happened,”

Just as Smitty began to relay the instructions, a local Japanese man with slicked back hair and a buttoned short sleeve shirt and black tie walked right past me.

“I got Nagata,” I whispered.

“Are you sure it’s him?” My wife asked.

“Yeah, he’s only got his top half,” I answered. “There’s a huge blood stain on his back and the rest of him is mist from the waist down,”

“Where is he going?” Smitty clicked in.

“He’s headed to you, going up kitchenware,” I clicked back.

“I just realized that I don’t speak Japanese!” Smitty exclaimed. “How am I gonna tell him that he’s dead?”

“Hello! Psychic Medium! You only talk to the dead!” I reminded him.

“Alright, I got him,” Smitty confirmed.

“I’m behind Nagata,” I replied. “I just realized why these two don’t haunt the pharmacy. It’s an extension, it was never part of the old store.”

There was no reply from the other three parties, “Random trivia, sorry”


….


“Your wife is still alive, she’s in her late seventies I believe,” Leslie said.

“Your children are in their late forties and early fifties,” Tany offered. “They’re all fine people. You died in the performance of your duties, what you did that night made you a legend, not just in the police department for the whole state. Young people still follow the example you set,”

The ghost of officer Benedict Ekala smiled and nodded his head. He seemed to be satisfied with what he heard because his form slowly faded like the last light at sunset.




“The man who killed you was deported back to Germany after he was released from ‘O’ahu prison a few years ago. He was a very old man, he died en route to Nuremberg,” Smitty told the ghost of Nagata.

The fire in Nagata’s eye burned with the want for revenge, it seemed like it would never go out. It’s always the case with your basic Japanese ghost who can’t or won’t move on because of unfinished business. Such was the case with Nagata, he was a single man from Japan who was already in his forties and was just starting his job at the old market as a stock clerk. During the day he worked at the Japanese language school to support himself. He had plans to buy a house and at some point find a bride to marry, but his aspirations were cut short on that fateful night in November of 1964. It wasn’t fair, he was only getting started.
“Nagata,” I interrupted. “Rather than remain here seeking revenge against someone who is already gone, why don’t you become the protector of this place so that no one has to suffer your fate? Perhaps, in that way you can help break any kind of bad karma that might repeat itself here? What do you think?”

Nagata’s face took on the countenance of a samurai who had just been assigned a sacred duty to uphold honor and integrity. He smiled, nodded his head and took a step back and bowed. A second later, he was gone.



The management was very happy with the results and gave a discount card to their establishment. We accepted the gift graciously, however, once we were on the way back to the SUV, I handed my discount card to my wife. Smitty and Leslie walked right back in and used their cards to get a few drinks and snacks. An hour later, we were sitting on the wall at Kaimana beach watching the sun come up.

“Dunno about you guys, but I’m headed home to crash,” I said.

“I heard that,” Leslie nodded.

“Back to the compound?” Smitty asked.

“I will drive us there,” My wife confirmed.

….

That same December we received a letter of invitation from the Ekala family. It was a Christmas memorial for Benedict. It was the fifty second year celebration of his passing. We were touched and very honored to attend. The party was great and the food, even greater. By the end of the night, we stood around the massive Christmas Tree and sang, “For Auld Lange Syne” in honor of Benedict. It was an honor indeed.



Nov 5, 2016

"Sonate" An Epilogue



The movement came in three measures like the flute, viola and harp are three parts in a sonata. However, the complete movement seemed to execute itself in one motion. Lunging forward with both feet momentarily leaving the ground just as a fencing master would do, when bursting forth to introduce his foil to the heart of his enemy, even before he (the enemy) could think to defend the blow.  A downward elbow strike to break the collarbone while holding a swordfish bill in her hand and dipping her head below a wide tight-fisted right cross. The collarbone shatters as she simultaneously steps to the left and rises with a backhand strike which generously plunges the swordfish bill below the skull of the murderer of her father and brother. Weapon and flesh are briefly tethered together before the limp form of Mele Hualala’i crumble to a floor that is constantly soaked with blood and marrow.

The brooding deep moan of a cello almost sounds as if it is wallowing in the mire of despair, but from its lowest note, a violin caresses its sadness and lifts it higher until only the soothing sound of a harp can carry that last note into a state of bliss. Her body shivers and her breathing is even, and for a moment she fears that she has gone mad. In the act of murderous, brutal revenge, she has found bliss. She has found clarity as her body is filled with adrenaline and shivers like the rising scream of a violin crescendo.

Tabby thought that she heard the gentle, soft, music of a piano as it began its first few notes before the flood of its full concerto would come bursting forth, but it was only the rain. Her bliss was inconstant as the moon, for the revenge, she sought only served to give her momentary happiness. It did not bring back her father and brother. Even with the shirt, she wore as a sacred vestment to their memory, she found no fulfillment. She was empty, empty and alone, truly alone. The door to the room opened with an emotional weight of finality, like a lone bassoon playing in a dark space. Boy entered with Ivan, Tiny and Rita following closely behind him. He gently removed the bloodied swordfish bill from Tabby’s hand and placed it in his coat pocket. She looked up at him with tears balancing at the precipice of her eyes,

“I can’t feel anything in my heart, I’m alone. I don’t have anyone,”

“You have us,” Aunty Rita stepped forward and took Tabby in her arms.

Ivan and Tiny both held the girl by her hands and rubbed her back sympathetically.

“You have all of us,” their voices were warm and welcoming.

“I’m responsible for all of this,” Boy said. “I’ll help you, and I promise you that everything will be okay. I promise,”

…..


The seven-count beat of a pahu drum is done for three measures for free before the hula practitioners enter for the holo pahu. The beat continues until all of the dancers are in line, then everyone calls out,

 “E ue!”

Then, eight more beats on the pahu drum sound, until the hula practitioners are brought into position to begin the hula pahu. The kahea is called, ‘Ae, aua ‘ia!”


“Aua ‘ia e tama e tona motu”


The ancient chant resounded in Boy’s mind as he drove the large SUV back to Rita’s home in Mo’ili’ili. Everyone sat silently in the vehicle; Tabby had already fallen into a deep sleep while Rita watched over the girl with maternal concern.

“What are your plans for her Hanson?” Rita asked.

“A normal life,” Boy replied.

“We’re not going to begin her training and bring her into the office?” Tiny asked.

“No,” Boy whispered. “We’re not,”

“But she shows all the signs,” Ivan began, but Boy suddenly erupted into a brief moment of furious anger. Something hardly seen by anyone, but remembered by all, once it happened.

“I SAID NO!” Boy pounded the dashboard so hard that it cracked in two pieces.

“Hanson Napualawa!” Rita hissed. “This girl has been through enough! You watch yourself, young man!”

Boy regained his composure as best he could and spoke more evenly,

“We are not bringing her into the office, and no one, not any one of you is going to take her aside and secretly teach her anything! Are we understood?”

Silence permeated the large vehicle before Boy pulled over and made certain that he locked eyes with his aunt and uncles.

“I’m serious, the three of you better not crumble,” Boys eyes always took on a lighter color when he was mad, and his elders knew better than to test him. However, they always found ways to temper his fury and work around him.

….

The movement came in three measures, a step forward, arms open, and then a hug. Tabby lost herself in the embrace of her father and brother while the sound of harps played in the distance. They chased her across the vast field of Kapiolani park as she ran about aimlessly. The destination was of no consequence to her, she was simply happy that the three of them were reunited and life was beautiful once more. In the dream, Tabby stopped suddenly. Her father and Daniel were no longer chasing after her, rather, they were beginning to disappear down a short grassy hill. Daniel waved at her to follow and she did. Eventually, she ascended the hill and at the bottom, she came upon their plaques at Hawaiian Memorial Cemetery. Heavy raindrops fell and it began to hurt her skin. She tried to endure the pain as best she could but she had to leave, she ran to the top of the grassy hill and looked back to see Daniel and her father standing behind their plaques, waving good-bye.

Boy stood at her bedroom door, watching her as she slept. Although her eyes were closed he could see them moving back and forth, she was dreaming. He had a sense of what her dream might be and it broke his heart to think of it.

“I’ll make things right Tabby, I promise,” he whispered.




Nov 4, 2016

"Birds In Paradise"


They walked right past me not realizing that they were the only ones on the excursion that evening. They were whimsical and romantically happy; who could blame them? The man appeared to be older, worldly and well traveled. His salt and pepper hair is what gave him his mark of distinction. The woman was perhaps ten or fifteen years younger than he was and very much in love with him. They were a throwback to every couple like them who arrived here by boat or plane and became swept up in a paradise that was painted by the likes of Delmer Daves or Joshua Logan. The truth of their personal situation wouldn’t surface until I broached the subject of the Kalakaua dynasty and their inability of some members to have children, save for Princess Miriam Likelike. 

The husband intimated that they two had not had to fortune or luck to bear children of their own.

“We’re good people,” the husband continued. “We’re not perfect people, but we love children.”

“What do you do for a living?” I asked the both of them.

The wife shared that she was a fifth-grade teacher and the husband developed curriculum for the state of Michigan. 

“And before you say anything about the children we teach are like our own children, we’ve heard it before. We know the intent, but it’s getting to be a bit long in the tooth,” He said.

 “There is no right or wrong answer,” I replied. “Only the one that the two of you decide on.”

The evening excursion continued on and the husband was fascinated with the classic architecture in the capital district. Although appreciative of the architectural style, he lamented that buildings such as Ali’iolani hale and the Kekuanoa building marked the influence of western colonialism. 

“Why couldn’t we have left things as they were?” He asked aloud.  

“He loves history and is saddened by it,” His wife said. “It always brings us back to our personal dilemma,”

“Not being able to have children?” I asked.

“Yes,” the wife replied.

“ It’s about history and legacy and the passing on of knowledge and immortality,”  

 I replied.

“You understand,” The husband sighed with relief.

“We have talked about adoption, but it wouldnʻt be the same,” the lamented.

“In our culture, we have a word called, “Hanai” it means to raise, rear, feed or nourish. It also means to foster a child from birth and raise it as your own; that child is afforded all the same privileges as if it were your flesh and blood. The child is raised knowing its biological parents; it is still practiced today. Even in my own family, my wife had four boys from a previous marriage just as I have a daughter from a previous marriage as well. Once, my daughter referred to the boys as her step-brothers but they were quick to correct her. They told her that there was no such thing as step-brothers; as far as they saw it, they were her real brothers.”

 It was an unusual subject to pontificate as we walked into the very middle of a cemetery, discussing the beginning of life in a place where life sees its last days before being committed to the earth. Perhaps the subject of bearing children in that location reminded us of the significance of the never-ending cycle of birth, life, and death. The evening excursion ended with a few pictures regarding the paranormal and the explanations that accompanied those photographs. 

“We started out learning about ghosts in Honolulu and now weʻve learned about the immortality of life,” the husband said. 

We exchanged handshakes and good-byes and as the couple walked away, they paused to give one another a long hug. It was obvious that they were crying but those were tears of reassurance and not sadness. I could not imagine what their reaction might have been if I had told them that for the duration of the evening, they had been accompanied by a little seven-year-old boy. He went as they went as paused as they did, and embraced the two of them while they embraced each other? A wise man knows when to speak so that change can occur, but a wise man also knows when not to speak, so that change will occur on its own.


Nov 3, 2016

"That Ain't No Way To Have Fun...No"



The head of the well noted secret society made his exit from the second-floor stairway of his establishment dressed in his signature suit. Even in the balmy weather of our island state, it seemed that he never appeared in public wearing anything less. No one ever knew the reason why he dressed that way. People had their own ideas and many blogs have passages discussing the issue, but the real truth was never known. His face was always stoic and he was hardly ever seen wearing a smile. He stepped into a dark and brooding mechanical wraith known as a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. It silently pulled out of the parking lot and traversed the streets of Honolulu.  A 1991 Honda Civic exited from the same parking lot and began to shadow the luxury vehicle from a safe distance.

….

Randy Tavares was someone who managed to ingratiate his way into every paranormal group on the island and in turn would contaminate their investigations. He would either plant evidence that he himself would conveniently find and take credit for, or he would pre-record his EVP’s and then try to pass it off as a genuine find from some spot where the investigation was taking place. Randy would also pass out his own business cards the second that the investigative team left a site in order to promote his own interests. However, Randy’s main purpose during his time with each group was to cause dissension among them. He was the disease that would fester in the wounds which he himself would create. Once the group members were at each other's throats and everything began to fall apart, Randy would conveniently make his exit and move on to another group.  It was 2:19 in the afternoon when he saw the head of the secret society exit the building through a side door and make his way down a flight of stairs. Up until now, Randy had been able to crack every paranormal group on the island except for one that was headed by the man he now pursued. The man himself was nameless, he was someone who lurked in the shadows. He let the work of his secret society speak for itself. There had been countless television interviews, hard copy articles and online articles that featured the society members themselves, but never the man to whom they answered. They were known as the 13 Skull Society and were comprised of 13 official members. There were initiates, but even then, one stayed at that level until one of the official 13 died or was kicked out of the society. To be an initiate was by invitation only, no one could apply. Randy knew this full well and so his pursuit of the head of the society was out of frustration and ego. In Randy’s mind it was a challenge, but really it was his ego.

“Who the hell does this guy think he is? He’s not above the law, how dare he act as if he is better than the rest of us?”

The head of 13 Skull Society was a nut he had to crack and so Randy fired up his 91 Honda civic and followed the Rolls Royce just after it left the parking lot. The passenger seat of his old car was littered with several letters that were sent to Randy’s home address by the society. Each letter was a cordial warning, advising him to not loiter on their property to take pictures or recordings as there were several signs advising the public against trespassing. There were several emails and text messages which flooded his phone as well, all warning Randy against contacting them for a petition to become a member. The last straw was the restraining order that was presented to him at his home earlier that same morning. As the officer handed Randy the papers, he looked over the officer's shoulder and saw the black Rolls Royce parked across the street. Enough was enough. Randy headed straight to the non-descriptive two-story building in Kaimuki and parked in the empty lot and waited. The black luxury car sat in its stall for most of the day until the grand poobah of the 13 Skull Society made his appearance.

Exit stage right.

….…….

Randy did his best to stay out view by lagging back two cars or so. The Rolls seemed to be taking a circuitous route toward what would be its usual destination. The car usually came out of a large double gate from a historical mansion located at the foot of an eastern mountain in Manoa and so it was natural of Randy to expect the vehicle to return to the place from which it had emerged earlier that morning.  However, it passed the Wilder exit as well as the Lunalilo off-ramp. It passed Vineyard and was now taking the Pali off-ramp. Proceeding up the Pali highway, it passed church row and finally lumbered at the traffic light fronting Pu’iwa park. It took the right cut off, going up the Nu’uanu Pali drive and now there were no cars that separated Randy’s vehicle and the black Rolls Royce. He had to be mindful and keep his distance but he nearly lost it when he saw the Rolls pull over into the little parking space near the reservoir. It took everything for Randy to drive by at a normal pace without looking at the man in black as he exited the Rolls and walked up the road. Randy eyed his rear view mirror and saw the man suddenly turn right and disappear into the bamboo forest.

“Shit,” he said to himself. “He’s going up to Kanikapupu in a two piece dark suit? What the hell?”

Parking in a small space further up, Randy grabbed his digital recorder and camera and headed down the road where he found the opening to the trail. The excitement of it all made the blood rush to his head and so he was forced to take a moment to catch his breath. He had to remind himself that he couldn’t scare the man in black by running up on him. He had to hang back far enough where he could see the man but not lose sight of him. However, through the entire trek, he noticed that the man in black was nowhere to be found. He was beginning to worry, but just at the end of the trail, he saw the man disappear into the abandoned structure that was once the summer home of Kamehameha III.

Questions rattled his mind; which one was he going to ask first and really, how should he pose these questions without coming off like an idiot? Stepping through the coral block archway, Randy looked about and found the open air interior of the structure to be entirely empty. The man in black was nowhere to be found, or so Randy thought.

“Want some whiskey in your water?” the voice seemed to come from nowhere and yet it came from everywhere in the afternoon sun. Instinct told Randy to look to the left and that’s when he saw the man in black literally step out of the corner of the old crumbling wall.

“Some sugar in your tea?” The man in black asked. “What’s all these crazy questions you’re asking me?”

“I’m sorry,” Randy was disoriented for a second, but the man ignored Randy and continued to speak as if he were reciting some kind of mantra.

“This is the craziest party that could ever be, don’t turn on the lights, cause I don’t wanna see,” his eyes were intense and colored in a yellowish green.

“Hey this is kinda weird.…just back off alright?” Randy held his hand out to the man in black, indicating that he now wanted distance between the two of them.

“Mama told me not to come,” the man whispered in a sing-song voice.

“I’m warning you,” Randy voice was shaking. “I know how to defend myself!”

“That ain’t no way to have fun.…no” the man shook his head and smiled.

Randy took a step backward and tripped over a rock that was embedded in the grass and hit his head.

The man in black took two steps forward and placed his sized 13 boot on Randy’s throat.

“That ain’t no way to have fun...no,”

Every moment that Randy struggled and squirmed, the man in black applied more pressure and more weight with the insole of his shoe.

“Wet shoes,” Randy coughed. “You’re former military or CIA?”

The man in black applied just enough pressure to Randy’s throat so that his mouth opened up. At that precise moment, the man removed a pill from his shirt pocket and popped it in Randy’s mouth.

“The pill dissolves very quickly and works it’s way into your system even before you realize it’s working,” The man began. “You’ll be out for a while, but when you wake, it will be night time. I’ll make you a deal my hard headed friend, tonight is the first of the last four moon phases of the Hawaiian Lunar Calendar. It’s the night of Kane (Kah-Ney), the night of the Night Marchers. If you can survive the night in this place, I will personally make you a fully fledged member of the 13 Skull Society. You’ll skip being an initiate and go straight to the box, so to say. If not, I have a cadre’ of police officers further down the trail who are awaiting your arrival. I called them as you were following me from my building. They’ve promised me that they will give you the special treatment even before you make it to the station,”

The man could see that Randy was now considering the offer, he then removed his foot from Randy’s throat and took a few slow steps backward. Randy himself made several attempts to stand but his legs would not cooperate.

“It’s the pill,” the man in black told him. “It’s just doing its job. Consider my offer when you wake up.….well, there’s really no consideration is there? You’re damned either way,”

The man in black turned and left the open structure and made his way down the trail of the overgrown bamboo forest.

“Mama told me not to come, mama told me not to come. That ain’t no way to have fun...no,”

….…

Kaniakapupuu had been vandalized on several occasions with graffiti and the removal of rocks or plants. It was and still is very frustrating for the group who cares for and maintains the area, as it is frustrating for the Hawaiian community. However, as far as anyone knew, Kaniakapupu has never been the scene of a murder, until the naked body of Randy Tavares was found the next morning about twenty feet away from the old royal home. He was riddled with large gaping wounds all over his body; his eyes were frozen with a look of absolute terror.  His clothing was found scattered about within the confines of Kaniakapupu as if he had to strip naked suddenly. The entire scene was strange because none of the telltale evidence of a murder scene was present. It seemed as if phantoms appeared specifically to commit the brutal murder and then disappeared into the night air of the Nu’uanu forest.

….

“I seen so many things I ain’t ever seen before, I don’t know what it is, I don’t wanna see no more. She said, "That ain’t no way to have fun, son. That ain’t no way to have fun...no..”







Nov 1, 2016

"After The Storm"

Mahope O Ka Manawa ‘Ino



Boy sat at his desk staring thoughtfully into the nothingness, while Rita set down a plate of ‘o’io salad, poi and pua’a kalua. His favorite brand of peach tea sat in a large beer glass that took up most of the space on his mouse pad, but what could he do? There was no space for it anywhere else. Rita sat opposite him and was neatly unfolding her napkin and meticulously placing a fork, knife and spoon to the side. She then opened her can of Diet soda and slowly poured the contents into her favorite tall glass from an Italian restaurant which was owned by a Vietnamese family. Now holding the fork in her right hand and the knife in her left, she let out a deep sigh before she indulged in her bowl of boneless chicken and brown rice.

“It’s rude to space out when someone is in the same room,” Rita said.

“I thought that I could mentor her and bring her along when she was older,” Boy mused, but painfully so.

“There’s nothing you could have done Hanson, if you were in her place you would have done the very same thing. The outcome is the outcome,,” Rita reassured him.

“No one could have foreseen the circumstances, I guess. We were thrust into this much, much sooner than we expected,” Boy agreed.

“Then why torture yourself over it?” Rita asked.

“Because I could have done something, I should have had the foresight...” Boy was at a loss for words at that point.

“You can’t save everyone; although you do a very good job of trying. We in this office may have the ability to control particular kinds of situations but we are not the seers of fate; that’s not up to us,”
Rita said. “We couldn’t control her fate either and that is something you are going to have to accept.”

Boy put his head down and thought deeply about Rita’s words of counsel while he rubbed his temples.

“Concern yourself with the people that you’re responsible for in this office,” Rita smiled. “We need you,”


…...

Although her death was tragic, Boy felt that she deserved much more than dying anonymous and known only to barely a few people.  He paid for her plot and her headstone, he arranged for her flowers and her services. He hired a small group of musicians to play her favorite music live. Boy, Ivan, Tiny and Kealoha, the doorman at the office were the pallbearers who escorted her to her final resting place. It was 1:32 in the afternoon when her earthly remains were committed to the dirt from whence she and her ancestors came.

Rather than there being an invocation at the grave, there was a lone guitar player who offered a song for those in attendance. A brief history of her life was mentioned by Boy to the musician who unknowingly performed her favorite song at the moment when the casket was lowered in to the waiting grave.

“She’s been afraid to go out, she’s afraid of the knock on the door,
 there’s always a shade of a doubt, she can never be sure, who comes to call
 Maybe the friend of a friend of a friend, anyone at all, anything but nothing again
 It used to be her town, it used to be her town too...”

…..

A short time later the plaque that graced her grave was etched with mokihana and laua’e in honor of her roots from Kaua’i. The plaque itself read,

MELELANI HUALALA’I

BORN MARCH 13 1962 - DEATH UNKNOWN 2016

“Everything okay boss?” Kealoha asked.

“Yes,” Boy answered. “Bring the car around please,”

“Yes, boss,” Kealoha replied.

“Oh and Kealoha?” Boy called after the doorman.

“Yes boss?” The bull of a man answered.

“Thank you for coming to help on such short notice, I appreciate it,” Boy nodded.

“Thank you for considering me, boss. It means a lot,” Kealoha bowed.



There was something about the Ko’olau mountains in the early afternoon that gave Boy a sense of reminiscent comfort. It reminded him of the drives back from the mango groves in Hau’ula, many many years ago when he was first being taught Lua by his parents. Life and it’s busy pace was what waited on the other side of those mountains. However, in the place where the winds were constant and the rains were welcoming; Boy Napualawa was at home.