Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 21, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #42

HA'AWIPIO


The bus kicked up red dirt and gravel when it pulled up in front of my house. Some of it got into the vehicle when the hydraulics hissed the double doors open. I showed the driver my all-day pass and took a seat in the back. Brandy was already sitting there dressed in her opened blue flannel shirt, white Ojisan shirt underneath, a pair of black jeans, and white tennis shoes.

"Where we riding today?" She asked in her usual snappy tone.

"Around," I shrugged my shoulders.

"You been crying?" Funny how she noticed after I'd already cleaned myself up before I left the house.

"Yeah, but I'll get over it," I promised her so that the all-day bus ride wouldn't be so depressing.

"We don't have to talk, you know? We can text until we're ready to actually talk?" She nudged my head with hers and then leaned on my shoulder and kissed it. "Okay?"

"Okay," I nodded.

We ended up sitting like that for most of the ride to town, silently enjoying the sights of the busy Chinatown life. People crowded the open market to barter over the prices of food and groceries while the homeless and destitute walked among the well-dressed business class, each conditioned to ignore the other as the result of a differing embarrassment for the each other. The bus pulls past the Kamehameha statue and lets us off at the stop on the corner of Punchbowl and South King street. We get off and walk back toward the Ali'iolani Hale behind the Kamehameha statue. Off to the side on Mililani street is a hot dog vendor who is not just known for his hotdogs but also for being just a great guy.

"Hey, Jack!" I wave with an enthusiastic smile to follow.

"How are you, my friend!" He's already preparing my favorite. He jokingly calls it the 'Buddhist' hot dog because of it being one with everything.

"I'll have two today Jack," I ask humbly. "Two Pepsi's as well."

Jack obliges me nicely, and I wish him a good day. I walk back to where Brandy is standing under the shadow of the Kamehameha statue. I hand her hot dog and drink to her, and she shakes her head, "I'm not hungry, you eat it."

"Are you sure? I don't want to be a pig or anything," I hold it up to her just to make sure, but she reassures me it's okay.

"You alright?" I mumbled through my mouthful of hot dog and bun.

"Just nostalgia," she whispered. "It's like the past, and the present still exists side by side in this place. The statute, the palace, all of it. You think we'd be happier if we lived in the past and not today?"

"One hundred years from now, a couple standing here just like us might ask the same thing," I mused. "The times change, but people stay the same, I think."

"Huh.....look at you all scholarly and shit," she laughed and grabbed my hand. "C'mon, the next bus is coming."

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

I'd forgotten how long of a stretch the Kalaniana'ole byway actually is. So many houses along the beach and all gated everyone one of them. It would be nice to live there, I tell Brandy. She looks up and dreamily agrees. "You and me and our kids running around, you'll be rich, and I'll be a stay at home mom and a good wife. I'll work out every day, so my ass doesn't sag, and I'll take a few college courses at KCC in the morning, I'll pick the kids up from school in the afternoon, and we'll go visit you at your rich job or whatever."

"I like that," I smiled and nodded. "Then, we'll get old?"

"We'll get old," she began. "The kids will finish college, get married, and have a family of their own. We'll spoil our grandkids because we can, but mostly, we'll have each other. That's all we'll need."

We were contemplating our dream life so profoundly that we almost missed our stop at Sandy Beach. It was a Tuesday, so it wasn't that crowded. My stomach was calling me again and led me straight toward the food trucks, but Brandy pulled me away, "You can eat later, champ, I have to show you something."

We walked the distance of the sandy beach park until we reached the reef. We kept going until we were in the high grass where there was just a bit of sand, and the rest was the ocean. I'd never seen this part of the beach before, it was very secluded.

"Let's get married right here," she whispered to me.

"We can do that, I actually like this place." I looked around, nodding my head. "We could do a few things with it as far as decorations, but yeah, I like it."

"No," she laughed. "I mean now, right here. We'll take a vow to each other right here and now so that the ceremony will just be a formality."

"Okay," I shook my head and laughed too. "Okay, okay."

"No, I'm serious," she looked me straight in the eye to make her point.

"I know," I assured her. "I know, just give me a second. Okay...um...Brandy Kirkland, my hapa Hawaiian girl, I love you. For all the days of my life, I give you my heart and soul. I will not live long without you if you go before me, but if I go before you, live a long and happy life and remember me, for I love you."

"Wow," Brandy was stunned for a second. "I didn't know you had that shit in you." Through her tears, I could see that she was now trying to think of something to say.

"Speak from your heart," I whispered through my own tears.

"Uh, Alexander.......I wish I had the kind of words that could instantly paint images in your mind because then you'd know how I see you as part of my world and my heart. I wish you could hear the kind of music I hear when the bus pulls up or when you show up to see me because it's beautiful. It's violins and harps and soft french horns and oboes. It turns my face red with excitement. I think that the only way you can feel it is when we make love because that's like music too. I love you, and no one will have my love but you, from now until we meet again in the afterlife." I think no one kissed the other first but that we both kissed at the same time. "Dammit," she said quietly.

"What?" I asked softly.

"We have to catch the next bus," she let out a deep sigh. I laughed, and in a second, we were running across the grassy field and through the parking lot until we finally got to the bus stop. When we took our seats in the back, we were still drunk with our emotional revelry. We held on to one another until we eventually fell asleep. 

I awoke first because of the droning sound of the bus flying along the unpaved roads past the Turtle Bay Hilton. The bus was empty save for the driver and ourselves, and the sun was soon to set. I kissed Brandy on the forehead until her eyes opened, and her body stirred. She stretched her arms and legs out and sat upright while wiping her open palms on her pant leg. "We're almost there?"

"Yes," I nodded.

She didn't say anything then, she held on to me tight and buried her head in my chest. We sat like that until the bus pulled up in front of my house just outside of Haleiwa town. I kissed her one last time, and she reclined back into her seat and went back to sleep. The driver looked at me in the mirror and watched until I reached the front. The double doors hissed open, and I stepped off. The bus kicked up dirt and gravel as I walked to the front door of my home. The key goes in upside down, and you have to turn the knob clockwise. I sigh as I enter and turn on the living room lights and walk toward my oversized leather couch. Another sigh I let go as I sit at the foot of Brandy's dead body. Her flannel shirt is spread across the rattan chair in the corner, and beneath it is her backpack. In her white Ojisan shirt, black jeans, and white tennis shoes, she lays there in a pool of her own dried blood. Her wrists are cut; I found her this way when I woke up this morning. I broke up with her the last night, her mental illness was becoming too much to bear with once she stopped taking her medication. I did not expect to see her like this the next morning. I never heard her come in.

It was too much to take, seeing her like that. Emotionally, mentally, I was not ready for it. Without thinking, I walked out of the house in shock and went through the motions of getting on the bus like I do every single day, never expecting to see Brandy's ghost waiting for me in our usual spot. As I was breaking up with her last night, I remember her saying that the day we spent on the bus, the one where we married one another at Sandy beach, was her favorite. I think that was the last thought on her mind before she took her own life. Somehow, I ended up reliving that last day with her.

I called everyone that needs to know about her. I'm not sure who's going to get here first, her folks or the authorities. I hope it's her parents. In the meantime, I'll sit here holding her and, we'll wait until her parents get here.


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