Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 30, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #33

KALAIWA


"...Who's gonna plug their ears, when you scream?..."


This isn't one of those stories where my ex and I are making a last-ditch effort to salvage whatever is left of our broken marriage. Gwen and I hate each other, no question about it, but today she finished work late.
She's stuck for a ride out to Haleiwa so that she can see her uncle from out of town is visiting. Her whole family needed to show up and pay their respects by dropping to their knees and kissing his ass. Gwen's uncle is Kalvin Mercado, but I always called him 'Kalding' which means goat in Ilocano. He's also the big beneficiary in the Mercado clan, which means every one of Gwen's family members is indebted to him in one way or another. I never liked him because he's always been such a big piece of shit. I know, I know, we don't want this story to get lost in too much background, but let's just say that the mortgage payments of a few of Gwen's family members were owed to good old Uncle Kalding. Yeah, he saved their asses, but what he wanted in compensation had nothing to do with money. I'll let you swim in that pool and figure it out for yourselves. In any case, Gwen's family was in such a hurry to drive out to Haleiwas that someone forgot to pick her up and give her a ride. To her credit, Gwen asked every single one of her workmates if they could give her a trip out to the north shore knowing full well that they all lived in town. That's probably when she had to eat crow and call me.

"Don't you have money for an Uber?" I asked her.

"To Haleiwa? D'ya know how fucking expensive that is?" She shrieked over the phone. "That is unless you wanna pay for my Uber?"

"Knowing you, you'll go shopping first. Besides, what's wrong with your credit card?" I knew I had her on that one.

"I'm not gonna use my credit card if I don't have to," Gwen quipped.

"Okay," I replied and hung up.

Gwen called back, screaming epithets at me over the phone, just like the old days. Little did she know that I had already pulled up into the roundabout driveway in front of her office. She sat on the broad wooden bench holding her phone to her beet-red face, with her teeth bare and her eyes opened wide. When she finally saw me, she nearly threw her phone through my passenger's side window. Instead, she restrained herself and told me to get fucked and then flipped me the bird. "So, you don't need a ride, then?"

"Fuckin' asshole," she grunted as she got in the car. "And why is this car so fuckin' low to the ground? You couldn't have bought anything more practical?"

"Complain to the dealership, that's how they make 'um," I shrugged my shoulders. Pulling out of the driveway and on to south king street, I adjusted myself in my chair. "So, Gwen? How ya' been?"

"Russ," Gwen began slowly. "You know good and damned well that you and I cannot be in the same space together long enough before you and I start gettin' on each other's nerves. Now, it's already bad that you and I are cramped up together in this mother fucking German sports car because that means that you and I have to breathe the same mother fuckin' air. The best thing Russell; for you and I is to remain quiet and not talk to one another. I'm gonna mind my own business and flip through my phone, and you drive as quickly as possible to Haleiwa. The sooner we are out of each other's hair, the better."

I was on the right turn driving up Punchbowl and heading to the freeway by the time Gwen ended her speech, or warning, or disclaimer, or whatever you wanna call it. "Fair enough."

"I'm also gonna show you respect in your own car by not messaging my boyfriend, see?" She said while holding up her phone. All I could manage was a laugh, and then I shook my head. Gwen always did that; she still had to show me something good that she was doing while completely forgetting the shitty thing she did a minute previously.

"I don't give a shit about that," I said. "Besides, why am I so lucky? How come Frank's not giving you the ride?"

"He's got his daughter this week, I don't want to interrupt his time with her," she said.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "You don't want to interrupt the time Frank spends with his daughter. Yet, when it's my court-ordered time with my son, you're always interrupting and cutting our time short with some shitty excuse."

"I don't want him around your girlfriend, he doesn't know her, and neither do I," just like I said. Gwen always misses the obvious.

"The same way that you don't know your boyfriend's daughter, and she doesn't know you? Maybe the mother of Frank's daughter thinks the same thing?" I shot her a sharp glance just to get my point across, but the storm that is Gwen never surfaced. She just put her earbuds on and buried her face in her phone. I had to calm myself and slow my breathing down before I gave in to those old emotions and caused a car wreck. I was passing the Bishop Museum at this point, I weaved in and out of traffic. Getting to Haleiwa was a moral imperative at this point. The sooner she was out of my car, the easier my life would be.

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

We were coming out of Wahiawa, and soon we passed Kukaniloko. There was hardly a spec of a car on the road much less any kind of traffic coming or going. The sun was near setting toward Mokuleia when I passed Green World Coffee Farm and merged on to Kaukonahua road. Both sides of the stretch were lined with tall sugar cane grass. I glanced at Gwen just in time to see her drop her phone on her lap. Her eyes widened, and her mouth opened, "RUSS, WATCH OUT!"

I saw a black blur of something before it disappeared under the front end of the car. Then I heard and felt the sickening dull thud and tumble under my BMW. I came to a skidding halt where all the smoke from my tires caught up to us. Gwen didn't scream. She got out of the car and ran back down the road to check out the scene. Did I mention she's a nurse?

"Shit, Russell shit!"

"What??!WHAT??!" I screamed while running over to her.

"It's a homeless person, a man," she pointed.

He was dressed in black clothing with patches of red dirt on his shirt and his pants. If Gwen hadn't pointed it out, I would have assumed it was a large garbage bag stuffed with trash. His body was twisted and mangled, but there was something else. "Gwen?" I asked. "What the fuck?"

"He didn't accidentally run out into the road, look," she pointed down at his neck. "Someone cut his throat and gouged his eyes out."

"Gwen?" I said calmly while handing her my car keys. "Go in my glove compartment, there's a gun in there, bring it to me, but be calm about it." Without an argument or a question, she went back to the BMW and retrieved the gun. I heard the car door close behind me, and I listened to her squeaky nurse shoes approaching. "This guy didn't just run out on the road, somebody did this to him and pushed him right into the path of my car. Whoever it was; they did the throat and the eye thing beforehand. They're probably watching us right now; okay, Gwen gimme the gun."

I turned around intending to take the gun from her and as carefully as possible, walk us back to the car. However, Gwen was pointing the Kel-Tech 11 right at me. Before I could even think, she shot me in the shoulder. Lucky thing I removed the eagle talons from the clip the day before, otherwise those bullets would have fucked me up real bad.  Still, it had enough of a kick to it that it knocked me on my ass. The pain was so intense that I think I threw up a little.

"Ah fuck," I moaned and tried to move, but I couldn't. It hurt so bad that I wanted to cry, but I wouldn't give Gwen the satisfaction. She had that cool steely-eyed look like she was about to do me in at any second.

"Baby?" She called out to someone or something behind her. Even from where I lay, I could see Frank Coyne step out of the tall canefield grass from the side of the road. He was slow in his approach, but he finally came up from behind Gwen and nuzzled his body up against hers. Her eyes rolled over with pleasure, and they both exchanged a wet sloppy kiss.

"Franky Coyne," I exhaled. "How you doin' brother?"

"Fuck you, Russ, this is the end of the road for you," that little piece of shit sneered at me like he had a pile of shit in his pants that smelled of rocky road ice cream. Gwen had clearly gotten into his head the poor guy. She had him snatch whipped and pinky wrapped, that's for sure.

"So, Uncle Kalding is not in town then?" I asked Gwen while failing to hide the fact that my shoulder felt like it was going to fall off at any time. The bullet probably hit bone for all I knew.

"Of course not you stupid ass," Gwen shook her head. "If there's one thing that's always been your downfall, it's that you're a nice guy, and you always do the right thing. I mean, look? As much as you hate me? You still showed up and gave me a ride."

"Shit," I answered. "Then, this had nothing to do with not enough child support?" Gwen fired off another shot, all I could do was look away and close my eyes. She purposely missed me by inches, she's been practicing.

"Our plan, convince some homeless guy to meet Frank on the side of the road for some drugs and money. We would time it so that when I sent Frank a text, he would know the exact moment when your car was coming and, then, he'd push the homeless guy in front of your car. You hit and kill him, then I'd go back to your car, get your gun and shoot you. Russ, no matter what kind of car you've had, you always kept a piece in the glove compartment. So predictable." Gwen smiled.

"Uhm, that's the thing, sweetie, that I have to tell you," Frank tapped Gwen on the shoulder.

"Huh?" She replied, a bit distracted.

"Well, like we planned, I was supposed to wait in the tall canefield grass on the driver's side of the road, the left side, and then push the homeless guy into the path of the car, but...." Frank trailed off.

"But what?" Gwen's voice was taking that all too familiar tone.

"But he got shoved out from the passenger's side of the road, you know that tall canefield grass on the right side?" Frank looked like he was more afraid of Gwen than the terrible plan they put together.

"What the fuck are you saying, Frank?" Gwen bellowed at him.

"I don't know who slit his throat and gouged his eyes and shoved him out here because I was where you told me to be, and the homeless guy never showed up. He got shoved out from the right side, across the road from where I was hiding, here on the left side. But look at the good side, someone did us a favor!" Frank did one of those over smiles and clapped his hands together. The last thing Gwen did was stare at him with disbelief, soon she was going to rap him across the head with my gun.

Now, this is the part of the story where I get to tell you what I saw before I passed out because I figure if I tell you, I'll probably understand it better myself.

 Or not.

It came out of nowhere, maybe from the tall grass on the right side. It was tall and massively huge, it was like a streak of a black shadow, and it let out a deep guttural growl that shook the road. Or maybe it's massive feet under the weight of its towering frame shook the road? I'm not sure. All I know is that it scooped up Gwen and Frank and took them into the tall grass and had its way with them. I know, because the last thing I recall hearing before I passed out, was their horrible blood-curdling screams.

I was found passed out with a bullet wound in my left shoulder but still alive laying next to the mangled dead body of a homeless guy with no name, no eyes, and a badly slit throat. When the authorities found Gwen and Frank, the only found them from the chest up, with their eyes gouged out. There was nothing left of the rest of them, body-wise, that is. Gwen fingerprints were the only ones found on my gun. I gave the weapon a careful cleaning the day before and after I wrapped it a shammy cloth before placing it in my glove compartment. No matter how the scene may have looked, I came out of it looking like a million dollars, after all, I was the one who was shot.

It's like the song says, "You can't go on, thinking nothing's wrong."


















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