Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 18, 2018

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2018 #43

TABBY WINS


It was the unnerving silence which felt like an unwelcome stranger in her hotel room that woke her. Whether blatant or residual she'd become accustomed to the constant presence of noise in one form or another on 'O'ahu.
The digital clock on the nightstand lit up the room with its obtrusive red glow reading 2:00 AM. Tabby let out a sigh of disappointment realizing that she'd slept for nearly fifteen hours. Fishing out her hairbrush from her carry on along with her toothbrush and toothpaste, Tabby managed to put herself together before she put on a sweater and grabbed the room key card from the nightstand. She walked out of her room without closing the door behind her, instead, she let it come to a resounding thud that echoed down the hallway.  The front desk clerk's face was bathed in the blue glow of her computer screen while the lone security guard sat next to her fiddling on his phone. The lobby was decorated with a variety of love chairs which were positioned in different configurations. Some sat side by side, while others pressed up against each other back to back. A few remained in far-off corners on opposite ends of the lobby.  Tabby couldn't help but be reminded of a tableau she had seen of a temple in India that was dedicated to the elephant god Ganesh. She couldn't figure out why. 

She hadn't noticed Jose' sitting at the far end of the open bar listening to Kory Hanlan's life story, but he noticed her right away. "There really wasn't anything for me in Modesto," Kory had one of those raspy voices which normally endeared him to people right away. Normally. In the case of his bringing illegal tours to Kipu falls? Not so much. 

"Are you sure about that?" Jose' asked. "Isn't that where George Lucas filmed American Graffiti?"

"Oh I didn' t know that?" Kory was surprised. "Did he really?"

"Yeah he did," Jose' looked at Kory's blackened eye, split lip, and the broken nose. "Guy, if you knew a lot more about your own hometown then you wouldn't get into so much trouble all the time you know what I mean? I think you would understand why everybody gets upset over you bringing tourists to Kipu falls when you're not supposed to."

"I know, I know," Kory agreed. "But man, fourteen people, five trips a day and they all pay a hundred bucks each? That's seven large a day! It's hard to walk away from money like that!"

"Let's see," Jose' mused to himself. "Seven thousand dollars a day versus getting your ass kicked or worse? I can only help you for so long guy, after that my hands are tied and you're on your own."

"See, that's what I've been meaning to ask you," Kory adjusted himself in his chair and faced Jose' directly. "Why do ya stick up for me all the time? Why aren't you trying to kick my ass like everybody else?"

"In the long run, it's better for my soul to help you," Jose's answer was something that Kory was not expecting. It had some compassion in it but it was also very strict. "Pretty soon, you have to help yourself and do the right thing."

The conversation was cut short when Jose's peripheral caught Tabby walking through the lobby. He excused himself and caught up to his boss's daughter. "Ms. Tabby, how are you? Did you have a good rest?"

She was surprised to see him at first and then was momentarily irritated. She felt as if her father had sent the Rizal's to be her twenty-four seven watchdogs. However, she remembered that the brothers were loyal to her father and that they were only doing what he'd asked. "Jose' I'm sorry for the way I acted in the car earlier. I've been going through some things back home and I shouldn't have taken it out on you."

"It's no worry, Ms. Tabby, I'm sorry for speaking out of turn." Jose' put his hand to his heart and bowed his head. 

"I'd feel a lot better and less stressed if we weren't so formal. Just call me Tabby okay?" She couldn't help but notice that Jose' standing there in his coat and tie was like a throwback to the kind of gentleman that no longer exists. Except that one of the last of the few was standing right in front of her.

"I'll do my best," he replied.

"Is there someplace to eat at this hour?" Tabby rubbed her tummy slightly and looked around the outer perimeter of the hotel property.

"Only McDonald's drive-thru and 7-11," Jose' knew his hometown like the back of his hand inside and out. 

"Can you take me to the drive-thru please?" Tabby asked while removing her coin purse from her pant pocket. She zipped it open and began to remove a thick wad of folded up money.

"I've got it, please put your money away," Jose' insisted.

"You're sweet," Tabby smiled, "but I can pay for the both of us. I mean you're the one who is driving me so the least I could do is get the food."

"I know you're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself in every way possible Ms. Tabby. As a gentleman, it is incumbent upon me to pay the bill. This is not an insult to your strength and independence which I respect, but this is the way my brothers and I were raised to behave where women are concerned. I'd be honored if you would allow me to do this for you." Jose's request left Tabby speechless for a second but in the end, she could not deny him.

 "All this for a McDonald's drive-thru?" Tabby smiled. "Now I'm curious to see what happens for dinner?"

.............

WAIPOULI PARKING LOT


Jose' removed a large utility blanket from the trunk of the rental car and spread it over the top of the hood where Tabby could sit and enjoy her meal. He stood near the driver's side of the hood and picked a few fries from the box before he took a bite of his burger. The ringtone on Jose's phone went off and he removed it from his coat pocket and glanced at for a second. "My brothers are wondering where I am. They were probably knocking on my door and got curious when I didn't answer."

"Tell them to come," Tabby insisted. " I ordered extra burgers cause I'm so hungry but tell them to come there's a lot of food."

An hour later the Rizal brothers and Tabby were crowded around the hood of the car not only eating food from the golden arches but also whatever food was available at the Safeway next door. It was something communal in that social interactions since ancient times were based on ceremonial meals dedicated to ancestors or family gods. In this context, Tabby and the Rizal's enjoyed their time as they shared food from one another's plate or handed paper napkins to one another. However, being that Boy was their employer they were very mindful not to cross any lines or become too familiar. They did have a job to watch over Tabby after all.

.............

NALOHIA

The next several days were times of leisure where the brothers took Tabby to secret fishing locations and to sacred places only a few people knew of. They retrieved salt from the ponds in Hanapepe and were able to visit the heiau at Haena. The brothers took Tabby on pig hunting expeditions as well and taught her about other more humane ways to take the life of a wild pig. They also showed her plants in the mountains that were edible in times of famine and also ones that were medicinal. In the evenings' everyone had a hand in preparing dinner together and it was that effort alone which formed their bond. The weekend was nearly over and on Monday morning Tabby would be back at school. That Saturday the brothers were set to take Tabby to Polihale to show her the "Lele" or the leaping place for spirits. The five of them met in the lobby and after checking their supply of water, sunscreen, and foods that would not make them lethargic, they were set to go. They were halfway to the rent a car in the parking lot which they were going to exchange for a Chevy 4x4 from an uncle of theirs when Jose's' phone rang. He answered it and immediately and a second later his face turned deadly serious.

"Dammit....godammit!" Jose' hissed.

"What happened?" Oscar asked.

"What?" Manny looked concerned. "What?"

"Kipu falls right?" Junior was dead on the money.

"Not just Kipu falls but frickin Kory Hanlan that goddamned idiot!" Jose' was furious.

"I don't understand what's going on?" Tabby interjected.

"They'll explain it to you," Jose' replied in answer to Tabby's question. "I gotta go take care of this, you guys go ahead. I'll ask Downey to bring me after."

"Guy, you sure or what?" Oscar asked with concern because they always addressed situations together.

"Yeah, you guys go I'll meet you there. We have all day right so no need worry, I'll be there." Jose' returned to the lobby to take the call while the brothers and Tabby headed toward the rent a car. 

..............

Jose' never showed at Polihale. The brothers tried several times on their phones to reach him but to no avail. Even Tabby could not perceive Jose' with her sensory perception. It was high noon when they all decided to leave and head straight to Kipu falls but by that time no one was there. They called their friend Downey who would only say that they would find Jose' back at the resort. However, Jose' was nowhere to be found. He wasn't in his room nor was he anywhere at Lidgate. They all agreed to separate and find Jose' on their own. 

"If Jose' wants us to find him we will, but that won't be until he's ready," Junior said before everyone went off to find the oldest among them.

.............

Tabby walked around the area of the resort that overlooked the Wailua River as it let out into the ocean at the foot of the old Hikinaakala heiau. That's where she found Jose'. He sat in the middle of a fixed circle of large pohaku or boulders with his back facing the resort. His face was deeply troubled as if he'd seen death himself. Tabby offered a Hawaiian chant of askance before crossing in to circle where she slowly approached Jose' and sat next to him. "I know that look, I walked around with that same look not too long ago. You saw death take someone didn't you?"

"Kory Hanlan....he didn't listen to my warning. I was trying to help him." Jose' could barely get the words out.

"This is the person the boys told me about?" Tabby asked. "While we were on the way to Polihale? The one who brought people to Kipu falls illegally?"

"Yeah......that's him...that's him," Jose's' voice trembled with fear and rage all at once and Tabby could see that he did his best not let the damn of emotion burst forth.

"Is he dead?" Tabby asked pointedly but not expecting an answer.

"No.....he's close but he's not....but he should be," Jose's couldn't look up because tears fell from his eyes and he didn't want Tabby to see. 

.............

KIPU FALLS

Jose's' contact was already waiting for him at the trail down to the falls. Kory's empty van was parked in its usual spot and when Jose' looked at it his stomach twisted inside. They would have to make the 2-mile hike as quickly as possible due to the urgency of what Jose's' contact told him. Well, all the contact would tell Jose' is that he would have to see it for himself. When they finally neared the falls Jose' could hear high shrieks and blood-curdling screams. That only caused him to run faster and leave his contact to catch up. The scene he witnessed stopped him dead in his tracks. Kory and fourteen of his illegal guests were standing on the left side of the falls where they faced the branch of a Banyan tree with a rope dangling from it. They were pointing and screaming at something in the middle of the water not more than a few feet from where the falls cascaded into the pond. It was a dark Hawaiian woman whose wet black hair lay matted against her shoulders. Her eyes were black and the black tongue which darted in and out of her mouth between her sharp teeth seemed to be almost unrealistic. He'd never seen a black color appear as if it were a living thing. In her arms, she held a little boy who could not have been any older than four. He was soaking wet in his red-dirt t-shirt and from where Jose' stood he could just make out the boys blue shorts and red shoes under the surface of the water. His terrified eyes were red and his face was flushed as he screamed with a voice that was already hoarse and worn down. Jose' knew in his heart that the dark Hawaiian woman was not going to give the boy up, it showed in her eyes. She had had enough of her quiet and solitude being violated time and time again. She would swim around with the boy in her grasp as if he were her prize, she would stop and glare at the tourists looking down at her and she would hold the boys head under water while his parents and the rest of the people screamed in horror. They threw filled water bottles at her and even cast their Go Pros in her direction as a last resort in order to get her to let the boy go but nothing worked.

Jose' saw Kory and grabbed him by his shirt and screamed at him, "What are you doing??? You promised you wouldn't come here anymore!!! Now, look you, idiot!!! Look what you've done!!!"

"I TRIED!!!" Kory screamed back as he pushed Jose' away. "I was doing good! I refused any tours up here but these people............these people right here paid three hundred dollars each in cash!!!! I couldn't pass it up, man!!! I got bills to pay!!!"

Jose' grabbed Kory and put him in a choke hold and walked him to the edge of the rocks, "Is that little boy's life worth four thousand and two hundred dollars???? "

It was too late for any discussion on moral imperatives. The Mo'o wahine circled one last time before she turned the boy to her chest and cradled his head to her bosom and then slowly submerged herself beneath the deep green waters of Kipu falls. Jose' pushed Kory away and screamed in frustration at the entire situation. He screamed in part of his own stupidity for helping a man whose greed mattered more to him than anyone's life. Including that of a little four-year-old boy. He screamed because there was nothing he could do to change what just happened. Kipu falls belonged to something that had been there before man and was more than likely going to be there long after man was gone. There was nothing he could do except to let the parents of the little boy and the rest of the tour group set upon Kory to do whatever their will decided. 

.............

Jose' and Tabby sat within the confines of Hikinaakala heiau where the windswept rain seemed to embrace them in a kind of blessed solitude. They were kindred spirits now, joined together by a mutual experience whereby their own eyes they witnessed the fleeting moments of life and death.















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