Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 19, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #44

LANA MĀLIE

Her best days were long past, the memories of the spotlight on the stage with a capacity crowd standing on their feet was now white noise in the most distant of yesterdays. The adoration and wonder of her otherworldly performances could be found in any video archive if one care to search for it today. She could no longer wear the outfits and dresses which framed her once svelte figure but wearing the loose fitting muʻumuʻu was much more merciful.
Though older and wrinkled, strategically fashioned make-up helped persons recognize her from the days of who she once was. Most others like herself went on to teach the hula while others married and had families. The ravages of time did not seem to bother them, in fact, they accepted what age did them and they did so gracefully. She could do neither; yes she was an incredibly supernatural dancer but to teach it? No, it would only serve as a reminder of her current state of denial. And then to marry and settle down? No. Perhaps stay with a man for a few years and then move on as vampires move when theyʻve outstayed their welcome and were at risk of being found out.

She worked as a hostess at a high-end restaurant in Waikiki where she regaled tourists with stories of the Waikiki that once was, and then when the lone guitar player in the restaurant would strum the intro to an old tune from Mahi Beamer, she would glide on to the floor and perform the hula for which she became legendary. After, the tourists were so taken by her that she would seize the opportunity to avail them of her true identity. So colorful was her tale that by the end of the evening, it was the tourists who insisted on taking her to dinner the following evening. This was the way she manipulated people into allowing her to re-live her past. Management did not mind as it brought in more customers. One evening, however, there was a group of visitors who cared nothing for her stories of Waikiki and also found her dancing of the hula, offensive and uncalled for. "After all," they complained, "this is an exclusive high-end establishment, we did not pay to have any of the natives insert their culture upon us, much less perform their savage dance. High-end is what we paid for, and the high end is what we should have gotten. Someone needs to remind that woman of her place."

She was fired shortly thereafter.

One evening she found herself wandering about the downtown area after having a long dinner alone at a Chinese restaurant. She had to walk off the soups and dim sum before returning home. Taking a short cut through a small parking lot between Nuʻuanu and Bethel street. she walked a block makai and was soon standing in front of the theater. The lights on the marquis were bright and colorful as always, and to her surprise, the front door was open. The box office was empty and the ushers were absent. She thought that there wouldnʻt be any harm if she peeked in and perhaps took a stroll. The house was empty and eerily quiet, the stage was bare save for a single spotlight fixed at the center. She took in a deep breath and let out a sigh; ah the many evenings she danced on that stage and stole many a heart, and received many a marriage proposal thereafter. Even the night when descendants of the Hawaiian royal family were in the audience and she was called upon to dance the encore for them. It was, Kuʻuipo I Ka Heʻe Puʻe one.

The applause was thunderous and not a dry eye was had in the house while all stood on their feet. The memory of it naturally carried her to the stage where she stood in the center and wept over what her life had become, or did not.

"I saw you dance on that stage so many times," the voice echoed from the seats. With the spotlight on her, she could not see who it was. The owner of the voice came forward, he was a Hawaiian man much older than herself. He was tall with a full head of white hair and dark wrinkled skin which quite fit his look. He wore work jeans and boots and work a dungaree shirt.

"Oh," she blushed and let out a giggle. "Thank you, that was so long ago."

"I was here the night that you danced,  "Pua maeʻole." Youʻll excuse me for being so forward, but that night was the first time that I felt the pangs of what true love might be." The old Hawaiian man placed his big meaty right hand on his heart and bowed his head.

"Itʻs fine, you have nothing to be sorry for," she reassured him and made sure that he saw that she was still smiling at him when he looked up.

The old Hawaiian man turned his head and looked somewhere into the pitch black and then raised his hand. ʻWould you mind doing an old man a favor by dancing that song once more?"

The music was already coming in on the loudspeakers, the sound of the piano and guitar began to rise and soon it filled the entire theater. It called her, the voice that sang the lyrics, it beckoned her forward to dance, and dance she did.

My flower, my never fading flower
Ku'u pua ku'u pua mae'ole


You are my constant desire
Nou mau ko'u li'a 'ana

Your loveliness I will always behold
He nohea 'oe i ku'u maka lä

And for all seasons
A no nä kau a kau

You are a beautiful woman
Nani he u'i ka wahine lä

An adornment for your elders/ancestors
A he lei wehi no nä kupuna

My flower, my never-fading flower
Ku'u pua ku'u pua mae'ole

This is song is for you
Nou ku'u mele nei

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


The following morning when the staff arrived to man the box office, they would discover that all doors to the floor seats of the theater were open. The large stage was lite by a single spotlight and there lying cold and dead in a casual muʻumuʻu with her purse nearby, was she, the hula dancer. The one who through her dance accomplished feats of legerdemain. Now, she was part of the spotlight she craved for......forever.




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