Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 31, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #62

GREGORY


My son had problems in school and in his social life, he wasn’t always that way but something happened as soon as he turned eleven. He went from this happy go lucky fun loving kid to this thug who felt that he always had to prove himself. He was arrested one too many times for stealing and fighting but the juvenile court judge gave him a break and sent him to a work program that would help straighten him out and get him a decent education and a job. The other choice was jail and the judge assured my son that he wasn’t going to survive a month in lock up.
It turned out that the program worked great for him and he loved it. He wasn’t too happy about the food but he was happy there none the less. The kids were allowed to come home on the weekends but more often than not, he chose to stay at school over the weekend in order to study for a few upcoming classes. After six years on the program, my wife and I were finally able to attend his graduation. A lot of his classmates were excited to have finally finished the program and to be placed into their new jobs with their degrees in their hands. Gregory just sat there with no expression on his face, when his name was called he got up to receive his diploma and turned to go sit back down. “He’s not even looking to see if we’re here or not,” my wife remarked. I assured her that it was just his nerves and that he’d be fine. But he wasn’t fine, after the ceremony when every graduate stood in one place and waited to be greeted by their family and friends, Gregory was still seated in his chair. I couldn’t help but notice that none of his classmates bothered to tell him anything or even try to direct him to the open field. In fact, it looked as if they were completely avoiding him. On our way over to see him, we bumped into Gregory’s girlfriend Marlowe. When she realized that it was us, her greeting was a bit sheepish and she excused herself saying that she had to go meet her parents.

“Are we going to get together later with your folks?” I asked because we hadn’t seen Marlowe in a while and I thought it would be good to catch up.

“Uh no.…Mr.and Mrs. Keni.….Gregory and I broke up. It’s just that it might be awkward, I’m sorry. It was nice to see both of you, take care okay?” She gave my wife a hug first and then as she hugged me she whispered, “be careful and watch him.”

“That was awkward,” my wife blurted out. “She won’t even say why they broke up? We’ll ask Gregory.”

What was really awkward is walking up to Gregory where he still sat, there was no look of recognition on his face right away. It took him a second as if he were processing the information before he finally knew who we were. He stood up and hugged us both but even then it felt like something was not right, and he smelled like moss. A second after his mother offered her congratulations, Gregory looked at me and asked, “Can we go home now Dad? I’d like to sleep.”

….………

His older brother Ken was happy to see Gregory as was his wife Kelly and their kids, May, Nicholas and Trudy. They all hugged him and asked how everything went with the graduation but rather than answer he turned around and walked straight to his room and locked the door. We brought him home on a Saturday and he would not emerge from his room until Tuesday morning. He got up before the rest of us and the first to see him were the grandkids. little Trudy knocked on our door to tell us that something was wrong with uncle Gregory. We followed her to the kitchen where we saw May and Nicholas staring at their uncle who sat at the kitchen table with his mouth agape and a blank look on his face. His hair was very messy and standing on end, I had my wife bring the grandkids into their bedroom as I shook Gregory a couple of times before his eyes came back into focus. He looked at me and a slow smile came across his face, “Freaked you guys out didn’t I?”

“He’s fine!” I shouted to my wife. “He’s just tryna be funny!”

My wife came back out to the kitchen but she couldn’t convince the little ones to accompany her. There was something about Gregory they didn’t like and so they avoided him as much as they could help it. Linda prepared breakfast for the three of us and we sat down to talk with our son to find out what occupation the program had set up for him?

“What do you mean?” There was no expression on his face, it was blank really and only his mouth moved. The unnerving thing about Gregory, and I wouldn’t notice it until a few days later is that he never blinked when he looked at you, not once.

“Well the job that the program was going to set you up with after you graduated, you were studying auto mechanics right?” Linda was proud of him and although she couldn’t wait to hear about where he would be working, she secretly hoped that it was not anywhere on the mainland.

“I don’t want to do that anymore,” Gregory’s voice was bland and lifeless as was his countenance. I could not shake the feeling that Gregory was a lap puppet and that someone else was speaking through him and that what we were getting was the show.

“What are you going to do then?” His mother asked, now she was disappointed.

“I had planned to stay home and fuck Marlowe all day, but we broke up so there goes that option.” Linda was shocked and she didn’t know how to react, but not me, I’ve always been old school and although Gregory went through a work program he still wasn’t a man.

I reached out and slapped him right across the face and in that instant the flesh on his cheek felt like a wet sponge because there was a spray of water when I hit him. “You don’t EVER talk to your mother like that, what the hell is wrong with you?!”

Rather than react, he sat there and ate his breakfast and said nothing, it was like that for the ensuing days. He’d say nothing but when he did, it was always something off-color or foul; when I’d wake up late at night to use the bathroom, I would find Gregory sitting in the living room with all the lights on just sitting there and staring at the TV screen except that it was off. Kelly also began to get a bit unnerved because whenever she’d come into the kitchen or the living room, Gregory’s eyes would follow her and he’d stare at her wherever she went. She said that one morning she had come out of her room with Trudy in her arms, they were looking in the cupboard to see what kind of cereal that our little granddaughter would like. Kelly was startled after she closed the cupboard door and saw Gregory standing there, “I can’t smell you when you carry your child, that’s strange.”

“What a weird thing to say?” Kelly told Linda and me, later on, that night. I can't say why I did it, but I managed to retrieve Marlowe's number from my phone and I called her. When she answered I apologized for bothering her but I had to know if something had happened to Gregory while he was in the program. Was he on any sort of drugs that altered his behavior or did he fall and hit his head? I intimated to her that Gregory did not seem like himself since he's been home, and I wanted to know if she knew anything about it?

"That's because it's not Gregory," Marlowe whispered, I figured she was keeping a low tone of voice because she didn't want her parents to hear her conversation. "No, I don't want Gregory to hear."

"Can you tell me what happened?" I found myself whispering too if only to get to the bottom of things.

"It was after we went on the hike and he came back from the falls, he was different after that. It was like another person had come back with us. Gregory knew for a fact that we were broken up but every chance he had, no matter where it was he would take me." Her voice was shaking now and I could tell she was crying.

"Take you? What do you mean to take you?" I asked. "Take you where?"

"I mean to rape me Mr. Keni, he would rape me..." I got a busy signal all of a sudden and right then we heard the three children screaming in the living room. We ran in and found Gregory with his hands around Ken’s throat, he had him pinned up against the wall. We all tried to pry him off of his older brother but nothing worked until I slugged him on the side of his neck. His legs buckled and he went dizzy, he was using his hands now to right himself before he finally hit the floor.

“What the hell is going on?” I asked Ken.

“He was licking the kids on their belly, when I stopped him he started choking me,” Ken could barely get his voice out and there was finger marked bruises on his throat.

“You!” I pointed to Gregory, “let’s go! You and I are going to talk, I’m not asking you! Move your ass now!”

“Victor no, don’t!” Linda begged but what else could I do? My grandchildren and daughter in law were in hysterics and my older son was almost choked to death by his baby brother. It was obvious that no one was safe in this house as long as Gregory was still in it. However, we were going to solve this problem right now. “Let’s go, Ken!”

….………

We were in the Rover heading out to Manoa where we eventually ended up way past the arboretum. We walked as far as we could until the trail let out and we came into a clearing; at that point, I stopped and turned around and looked at Gregory. I removed my Kukri knife from the case that was tucked into the back of my pants. I pulled out the second one and handed it to Ken, he gives me this confused look but I just gave him a nod of reassurance.

“I don’t know who the fuck you are, but you’re not my son. You tell me where my son is right now or I’ll gut you like a pig!” The thing that was Gregory stood there with that blank look on his face and it only infuriated me more. “Where is my son’s body you piece of shit!”

Gregory’s eyes went from their black color to a deep yellow and his pupils became black vertical slits. I jumped back for a second thinking he was going to attack us, Ken couldn’t comprehend what was happening and so he carefully positioned himself next to me. “This is his body, I’ve done nothing with it except use it for a while that’s all.”

“Use it?! You mean like you took it?” I wasn’t sure that I wanted to hear an answer, I was so disgusted that I just wanted to kill this thing that looked like Gregory.

“Oh no,” Gregory replied. “I didn’t take your son, he came willingly of his own accord. His memories show me that he and his girlfriend Marlowe broke up because she found out that he’d been stealing. He lied to her and told her that everything he’d gotten for her, clothes, jewelry, and.…blue tooth came from the money that you and your wife gave him every week, but that was just twenty dollars. Those gifts cost a hundred dollars or more, but once Marlowe got him to tell her the truth she broke up with him and would not have anything to do with him again. Unfortunately, they were in the same class, so on the day that it was announced that their group was going on a hike to Kaliuwa’a, Gregory took it as an opportunity. The group counselor was related to a few people who had influence, so once the group got to the trail they found that the gate was open. However, when they got to the bottom of the trail they found many pu’olo along the way and it scared them so they turned back. Except for Gregory, he kept going and they couldn’t catch up with him so they were forced to wait until he returned. He came prepared I must say, he had cordage hidden in his pant pocket so that when he got to the falls, he found a big enough sized rock that he could carry to the edge of the pond. He tied one end of the cordage around the pohaku and the other end around his ankles and he heaved that rock on his shoulders and tossed it into the water. I was lurking at the very bottom of the pond when I heard that splash, but it wasn’t the sound of someone diving into the pond, it was a deep mournful dunk of loneliness and disappointment. He was sinking pretty fast your Gregory because he meant to, he wanted to take his own life and die, rather than live one more day without his Marlowe. I’ve taken many a life before your son came along and each one that I’ve taken I’ve also absorbed their memories, memories of the places they’ve been, the things they’ve seen, the great loves, the great heartbreaks and at that moment I thought, what a waste of a life so young. Maybe it was time to really see the world and not just through the memories of hapless victims who happen to be in my pond during feeding time. So Gregory let me in and allowed me to see the world through his eyes."

Ken and I eyed one another, preparing for any surprise move that Gregory, or whatever it was would make on us. Gregory shook his head and let out a deep sigh, “But I have to tell you, with what I’ve seen so far, I am not impressed! Long ago, you could hear a wahine pounding her tapa from three valleys over, but today you can’t! Do you know why? Because there wasn’t any noise! That’s what’s wrong with everything, there’s just so much noise and it’s everywhere! Those.……cars and the box with the people moving around in it and the.……..computers! You know what also makes noise and nobody knows about it? Lights, lights make noise! It’s this low humming sound that no one can hear because of all the other noise! If everything stopped today, right now, and there were no people all of a sudden, the only sound you’d have is from the lights! I don’t know how anyone can live like this with all this noise you know?” Gregory’s yellow eyes look at me and Ken as we hold our knives, “You know you can’t kill me with those things right? Lucky for the two of you I’ve had enough of the world of man, I’m done.….oh just so you know, before Gregory let me ride him, he inhaled some water but he should be fine.”

The thing that had a hold of Gregory’s body closed his eyes and he was gone, a second later Gregory hit the forest floor and he began to cough up this black brackish water. The smell of it was horrible but at least I had my son back and Ken had his kid brother back. Gregory’s eyes couldn’t focus right away but once he came to, a look of realization came over him and he broke down crying. His brother and I held on to him until the emotional storm had passed and he got it all out. On the way home, Gregory said he really couldn’t remember much, it felt like he was in a haze and couldn’t find his way out. When we got home, Ken punched Gregory in the arm really hard, “What the hell was that for?” Gregory shrieked.

“Just checking,” Ken said. “Had to make sure that you didn’t hulk out on me again.”

I had my own test for Gregory, later that night I sat next to him as we watched TV. I had a plate full of salami, mayo, and cheese. He reached over and made himself a sandwich and drowned it in mayo just the way he liked it. The green monster drink he inhaled like it was going out of style, yeah my Gregory was back. It would take a few years of counseling and therapy before Gregory was a hundred percent, but at least he was still Gregory.



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