Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 10, 2017

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2017! #52

Grant Society File: Case 38131 #94615647


1976


Dear Karen,

It’s springtime and I live on the second floor right above an Irish bar, who would have thought? When the sun sets here in Boston I can see it from my window and you wouldn’t believe how it paints the buildings in this city with its glow, it gives me a somber kind of feeling when I look at it because it reminds me of how the sunset looks like a beautiful yellow fire just at the edge of Alakea street.
I miss you a lot and a day doesn’t go by when a little twinge of you makes my heart skip a beat. It’s at times like that, when I stop what I’m doing so that I can write to you. I wish you could see the place, I know you’d like it. Some friends own it and there’s lots of room, it’s a selfish thing to ask but do you think that you’d want to come here to stay with me? I’d make a life with you anywhere, but right now Boston has got its own kind of charm. I think this is where I’d like to put down some roots and settle. What do you think?

I love you

James

….……..

James,

It sounds like an exciting place to be and I love how you’re able to find the romance and beauty in everything you see. Living above an Irish bar must keep you up late at night since it’s an Irish bar? Haha, just a morsel of a joke! I always said that you and I were always in sync, I took a late lunch today and sat at that little grassy parking lot oasis at the Aloha Tower. I noticed the same kind of sunset which you just described, is it unusual that we see the same thing but in two different cities across the continent? I love you too James and I adore the invite to join you in Boston, but I have to wonder what’s wrong with our own little hometown here in Honolulu?
I love that you’d make a life with me anywhere, well, Hawai’i is anywhere and it’s just as good as anywhere else. After all, I’m here and I’m charming. Roots take a hold a lot quicker in your own yard, especially when you plant them deep.

I love you

Karen

….………

James,
Just letting you know that your parents are worried about why you haven’t written or called them? When I told them that I received my first letter from you, they were not worried, but before they end up worrying even more, please write to them and let them know that everything is alright.

Love you

Karen

….………

Karen,

It’s been a month and I apologize. Things didn’t work out here so I had to pack up and move. The why of it isn’t important, suffice it to say that the cultural behavior here isn’t like how it is at home. There’s no aloha spirit and it seems that everyone is in it for themselves. I even see it among families here when they sit down to dinner at a local eatery, or maybe it’s just me? My mother did spoil me as a kid while I was growing up so maybe I’m set in my ways and don’t want to change? You’ll notice the address on the envelope is not the same as the last letter I sent you. I didn’t move to another location somewhere in the city because the city in Boston began to feel a bit too stifling. So I’m here in Denver where a friend has a place far up in the mountains. I have to get there as quickly as possible however because of the snowfall. It’s cold and it reminds me of those old European movies, except that the snowflakes have no real flavor when they land on your tongue. As a kid, I always thought that snowflakes would taste like brown maple sugar and raisin oatmeal, so much for that bit of romanticism. Karen, I want you to come to Denver to stay with me and we can get married and make it a permanent thing? Although, I’m not sure that you could stand me and just me day in and day out it would surely be just the two of us. I’d provide everything we need to live, not sure how you feel about eating moose for breakfast lunch and dinner, but can you imagine living near a canyon?
Yup, there’s one that’s not too far from the cabin, and I can yell ‘I love you Karen’ into that canyon and it will echo for miles. Anyone who hears it will know that it’s me who loves you. Money is a bit tight so I’ll call you when I can.

James

….………

James,

You have a great way of making everything so appealing with your romantic descriptors, you could probably write an entire sweeping saga based on a grain of rice and its journey from the fields right up until it became a large part of a spam musubi; at least that’s what I think. I’m sorry to hear that things in Boston took such an unfriendly twist, but mainland people can’t be blamed for a behavior that is based on their own kind of culture and environment and yes, you are very resistant to change and you are very stubborn. See? Who knows you better than I do? I know it would be useless to ask why Denver because you always go where the wind blows and it’s more than likely that your journey to Denver came as a result of a random idea that popped into your head and that idea moved you to travel there. James, no matter if it’s in a mansion or a cardboard box if I’m with you every day, all day from beginning to end I’d be very happy even if it were just the two of us. Not sure how I feel about Moose stew and Moose pipikaula though?

I got a promotion at my job recently, I’m a division manager now which means more pay but also more responsibility. The thought of your voice echoing through a canyon with my name on it fills me with so much more love for you than before and it’s not because I miss you, I do, but it’s just knowing how much you love me that even the creatures of nature could hear it, means everything. You could do the same thing here at home in my Nu’uanu neighborhood where the residents would appreciate your devotion and the bamboo forests at Kaniakapupu would shiver with your loyal intent. The snowfall sounds like great fun but there is a warm embrace and an ever-burning fire here where I am, you should be here too.

Karen
….………

James,

I was up late last night thinking about how much I’d like to be Mrs. James ‘Ilima but in between each letter you send there’s a period of waiting until the next one arrives. That time seems to extend itself to a length that is more further along than the last. I’m not a hundred percent certain about the snowfall in Denver but it is a life with you and what more could I ask for? I just need a phone number where I can reach you so we can discuss the details of my flying over. I’m crossing my fingers.

Karen

….……..

Karen,

Well, the weather didn’t work out and I barely survived way up in the middle of nowhere. The canyon turned out to be a gully, and there were more bears than there were Moose, not sure which one I would have appreciated? Congratulations on your promotion! I hope the people working under you aren’t giving you any kind of stress that would cause hair loss? I lost count as to when I last wrote to you as it took a little bit of a while to get settled here. If you haven’t already noticed by the return address I’m in Venice beach in California, it’s a lot like Hawai’i except that you’re not here. How about it Karen? Will you come and be with me for the rest of our lives? This could be the place where we grow old and spend late afternoons walking along the beach at sunset, and as old and wrinkled as we’ll be, I’ll still love you because you’ll always be beautiful in my eyes. This is the where I want to settle down, just like we talked about, just like we agreed right? Once I’m settled I’ll let you know and we’re set for the rest of our lives! I love you, Karen. I hope you’re looking at the plane ticket I sent you while you’re reading this letter at the same time?

Love

James

….………

James,

I’ve returned the plane ticket you sent, in our correspondence because you keep missing the clues which I have given you. It’s my fault really, I should have put it to you plain James. What’s wrong with home? What’s wrong with the place where I am and where I’ve been waiting? Don’t send me another letter in a few months telling me about where you’ve ended up. Come home.

Karen

….………

James,


The holidays have passed and it’s now the new year, 1977 and there has been no word from you. It’s become apparent to me that because of your traveling from place to place so often that you haven’t received most of my letters as they must arrive at your previous address but of course, you’re no longer there. It almost seems pointless to write this letter not knowing if it will ever reach you but my mother says that’s the great thing about having a kukui nut tree in your yard, the nuts fall from the tree and land on the ground and more trees grow because of it. She said that I should think of this letter in the same way, but I reminded her that the kukui which falls from the tree falls within reach of its mother tree. It doesn’t fall at a random location or spreads itself out all over the mainland, it grows very close to it’s home. James, maybe for you the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence whenever you arrive at a new location? However, I’ve got news for you, the grass is the same color on both sides.

….………

James,

It’s June of 1977 and I can only assume that you are traveling once again and that your letter will manifest in my mailbox from a new location on the continent or who knows? Maybe somewhere in Europe or Asia? I would hate to think the worse but I can’t let my mind drift towards those thoughts, of course, you’re still alive. Even if you’ve found someone else and have decided to marry, it’s a much better situation than to think that someone horrible has happened to you. I’ll take each day as it comes and if I hear from you, that will be fine. If not, I have to accept that that is fine too. Otherwise, I have to live my life for myself and go on as well.

Karen.

….……..


Today


“What are we here for?” Andrew whispered to his cohorts.

“We’re here for Lively’s grandmother,” John whispered back as he lifted his night vision goggles in the direction of an old mailbox fronting a large lawn which led up to an even larger house.

“Yeah, but Lively’s grandmother is still alive!” Andrew hissed more than whispered. “This doesn’t make sense!”

Just then Lopaka’s voice clicked in on the wireless walkie talkie, “Guys, keep the chatter down.”

“Sorry boss,” Andrew clicked back.

“It’s alright,” Tanya clicked in. “We’re all curious about how this is going to turn out so let’s give Lively all the support she needs.”

“Time is one in the morning,” John clicked.

The van where Andrew and John were positioned was not too far up the road from the mailbox, Lopaka and Tanya were parked down the opposite end in their Avalanche. A month ago, Lively shared with the rest of the group that her grandmother began receiving letters in her mailbox from an old boyfriend who disappeared out of her life forty years ago. Now, at sixty years of age, her mailbox is filled with these letters from her old flame almost every night, but not delivered from the mailman of course. The strange thing is that the envelopes which the letters arrive in are all very old and yellowing as if they’ve been sitting in an old shoebox somewhere in the back of an even older attic. Lively’s grandmother was never sure as to when the letters arrived but they would always fill her mailbox to capacity whenever she would check her mail in the morning. The team agreed to help Lively’s grandmother so that it would relieve her stress and quench her curiosity at the same time. Sure, it didn’t seem like a paranormal investigation but the circumstances were certainly worth looking in to. If it was something nefarious they would immediately contact the authorities. Another hour passed before a lite breeze picked up down the road and carried a smattering of small brown leaves toward the mailbox. John had to remind Andrew to put his phone away as the two were supposed to alternately be watching the road and the mailbox, when he glanced up and saw someone walk past Lopaka’s car. It was a man dressed in a rawhide jacket with long hair and a big mustache. His jeans looked worn and faded and on his shoulder, he carried a satchel that was just about as worn and used as his clothing.

“Boss, someone just walked past your car. I glanced down for a second and when I looked up he was there, I didn’t see where he came from.” John clicked in.

“I see him too, no worries.” Lopaka returned and clicked in again. “Lively, we have something, whenever you’re ready.”

There was nothing unusual about the stranger other than his demeanor which showed that he had a purpose, he wasn’t just passing through. He made a beeline for the mailbox and when he got to stand in front of it, he removed the satchel from his shoulder and placed it on the grass in front of him. Opening the top, he picked it up and began to pour a load of letters into the mailbox. Some fell on the ground but when he was done, he gathered the stray envelopes and put them where they belonged. The stranger glanced up the road toward the house and paused for a long second, after taking in a deep breath and letting it out, he put his head down and rubbed his hand across the tip of his nose and turned to leave.

“James,” it was Lively and her grandmother standing beside the mailbox, the old woman called out again hoping that her voice would stop him from leaving, “James Ilima?”

The stranger turned and looked at the old woman and her granddaughter, “James junior, I’m his son.”

Even from under the singularly dimmed street light which hovered above the mailbox, young James could see that the old woman’s eyes were red with tears and that there was a lifetime of explanations which she was owed. “I’m not a talking man like my father so I’ll get to the point, his last letter to you from L.A. was not the last. He moved one more time after that to Long Beach, that’s where he put down roots and it’s also where he met my mother.….they fell in love and were going to get married but he thought it was only fair to tell my mother about you and she pretended to understand. He told her that he had to let you know that he was going to be married but she wouldn’t let him call you, she wanted you to be forgotten altogether. Without my mother knowing, my father wrote you letter after letter after letter, but they never made it to the post office. My mother hid every single one, and my father finally gave up, but their marriage was not a good one. She held those letters against my father and took it out on him but he could never understand why she was always so mad. After she died, my father went through all of her things and found a shelf of all of her shoe boxes filled with the letters that never made it to you Karen. It sort of explains why my mother always bought pairs of shoes but only wore a few of them. Before my father died he told me about the letters and made me promise to bring them to you...I never read a single one.….it wasn’t any of my business, but there are so many of them that I couldn’t bring them all at one time.”

“I’ve seen you drive past here on more than one occasion,” Lively’s grandmother said. “But I never paid it any mind because I thought it was just my old age making me hallucinate.”

“That was me, Karen, I had to drive by in order to figure out a good time to leave these letters for you. I finally decided that two or three in the morning was best,” James junior said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble. I just didn’t want things to be weird and awkward.”

By that time, Lopaka, Tanya, Andrew, and John had emerged from their vehicles and came to gather around Lively and her grandmother. “We’re Lively’s friends,” Lopaka introduced himself and everyone else. “We were just helping Lively and Karen to find out who it was that left these letters every night. Kinda like the Edgar Allen Poe, Jim Morrison thing you know?”

“I get it,” James junior replied. “It’s cool.”

“Come by anytime, but when you’re ready of course,” Karen said,

“I guess I could bring the rest of the letters directly to you?” James junior asked.

….……..

6 months later



Sundays are the best days for the Grant Society to gather with Lively, her grandmother Karen and James junior. The earlier part of the day is spent having breakfast and orange juice, and after everyone is rested, they gather in the living room where everyone helps Karen bring out the old letters and spreads them on her large koa wood table. Everyone gathers the letters together in order of the date and they hand them to James junior where he reads each one out loud. Some are simple and short and others are lengthy and sometimes heartbreaking but the overall theme speaks of the regret of being indecisive and choosing wanderlust over a life that was ready made and waiting at home. It may not have been a paranormal investigation, but certainly, it was a lesson about a ghost of a different kind.


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