Chinese Ghosts by Chen Yun
MY GHOST STORY BY DAV ID ARTHUR WALTERS
I don’t envy people who have seen ghosts. I have seen only one myself, and that frightening experience was quite enough for me!
I was living in Keahou on the Big Island of Hawaii at the time, a brand new bachelor yet again with very few regrets given my circumstances: an elegant condominium on the water with schools of whales bounding by into glorious sunsets – that sort of thing. And there were swims in the pool, games of tennis, good books, daydreams of being a great movie director, an exotic music collection, and plenty of time to write another one of my unusually brilliant and sophisticated essays.
It was a peaceful life alright. Visitors from the Mainland were suitably impressed and even envious. Of course there were a few disturbances such as the time my neighbor downstairs was raped and I did not come to her aid because I mistook her muffled screams for cries of pleasure. Sometimes the surf came up, swept into condominiums and carried their contents out to sea; but I was always spared because my perch was almost as high as my opinion of my writing abilities. Oh, yes, and there was the greatest disturbance of all: I saw a ghost!
You see, I did not have everything in Paradise: I was missing a female companion. So one night I strolled over to the Kona Lagoon Hotel to see if I might find one unattached around the piano bar. That was highly unlikely in those days – Keahou was the end of the world, at least for any single person in their right mind. But life has its unexpected ins and outs and its accidents even in Kona. There was always a slight chance some out-of-touch single woman, perhaps a recent divorcee, might show up on the advice of a bad travel agent.
And there she was, nursing a cocktail to the tune of “Tiny Bubbles.” I walked right up to her and confidently delivered my line: I live next door at the Surf and Racquet Club, I am in the travel business, and so on. Our conversation led to my offer to escort her to a much finer hotel nearby, the Kona Surf, on the other side of the golf course – she accepted. We walked to my place next door to pick up my Lincoln Continental, then I proudly swung my lucky catch around the bend to show her the finer things in my neighborhood.
The Kona Surf Hotel faces the ocean; my new acquaintance and I wound up strolling the grounds alongside the bluff carved out over the centuries by the pounding surf. The moon was a slight sliver that night. The lights from the hotel provided us with barely enough light to illuminate our way. Playing my role as tour guide, I pointed out the dark trail of stones upon which the ancient Hawaiians had walked, and I told her about the menehunes seen there – they were like faeries, I explained. Suddenly, as we were about to return to the hotel, she let out a blood-curdling scream, then a piercing shriek; she pointed her finger and shouted:
“It’s a ghost! It’s a ghost! There! A ghost!”
I saw an apparition, a White Thing – I suppose most ghosts are white – rushing right at us. As you might suspect, real men do not scream: I did not scream because I was paralyzed with fear. In fact, I was in the extremity of fear, learning first-hand that fear is an animal-like feeling, and very contagious when one is caught completely off guard.
Anyway, the White Thing rushed by us. My companion was still screaming bloody murder. Then she began to run madly about. As I was regaining my ability to move, she fled onto a promontory as if she were about to throw herself off of it to certain death on the rocks or in the raging surf fifty feet below. The probable headline flashed across my mind:
LOCAL MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER OF TOURIST WOMAN!
I sprinted onto the promontory, waving my arms, yelling, “No, don’t jump!” She saw me and ran in the opposite direction toward the hotel. When I caught up with her she was trapped inside of one of the hotel wings, running wildly up and down a corridor, bouncing off the walls and doors. I probably would have been doing the same thing myself if I hadn’t been distracted by her hyserical behavior, for I was still nearly frightened out of my wits. It took every ounce of my will to try to control the situation – that is, after all, a man’s job! I grabbed her and held her close, saying as assuredly and as firmly as I could, “Don’t worry. You are safe. Nothing is going to hurt you.”
She eventually calmed down long enough for me to convince her to go to the coffee shop with me to sit down for awhile. Then she told me she had dropped her purse on the promontory. I promised to retrieve it for her, providing she sit still, drink her coffee and eat her roll – agreed. I immediately found a security guard and told him everything. As we were walking out to the scene of the lost purse and ghost sighting, my hair stood on end. I said I did not know if I could continue, because I had seen a ghost. The young guard, a native Hawaiian, said:
“Do not be afraid of what you can’t see, sir. Just be afraid what can hurt you, what you can see, like bad people. ”
“But, I tell you, I saw it!”
“What you saw here will not hurt you,” he insisted, knowingly, and I desperately wanted to believe him therefore I did – sort of.
We found the purse. I returned it to the tourist. She was still shaking. Since I did not want to drive her back to her hotel, I called a car for her and walked her upstairs to the lobby. The security guard stood nearby because I had previously asked him to accompany us. The stretch-limousine pulled around to pick her up. She let out a shriek and cried:
“Oh, my God! A hearse! I’m dead now! Oh, God, I’m going to my grave!” She began to cry hysterically.
The Hawaiian guard gave me a knowing look and waved me away as he approached her. I walked off and went directly home. Alone there, I was still in such a state of panic that I had to call a friend of mine, Brioni’s wife Cheryl – who had experience in occult matters – to calm me down. After an hour or so on the phone with her, I had a semblance of my old macho composure back, hung up and went to sleep.
For months after that event, I could not approach that old Hawaiian trail, which also ran along the front of my own residence, without a shudder. May I never see a ghost again. I understand the woman was taken to the hospital and sedated. She soon recovered and continued on her tour. I’ll bet she never wants to see a ghost again either.