I spent a week staying in a haunted mansion on Oahu. It was called the Manoa Valley Inn and online it lead you to believe that you would be spending the night in a wealthy grandma’s house complete with doilies, scones and cats. What it actually was, was The Shining, but with a slight setting change, instead of an isolated mountain, an isolated island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I’ve gone on three trips for my new job and my hotels have stayed pretty consistent, the swanky Downtown Grand in Vegas and The Park Waikiki right in the middle of downtown Waikiki, both of which were new and exciting to me, and came with fancy soaps and hotel amenities that I piled into my carry on to take home with me while subtracting the cost of toiletries from my budget for the month. The Manoa Valley Inn was the type of exciting caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat, and by far the most memorable of the three, and you didn’t want to take the soap or toilet paper home with you.
When I arrived it was dark, and I lugged my bag up a series of cobblestone steps and across a dark porch, opened a creaky screen door and entered a room that smelled like what the inside of a coffin must smell like. Musty and slightly sour. The first thing I noticed were three stuffed frogs wearing medieval pointy hats and weird smiles that made them look like they had just been shouting “oo-da-la-ley” in the streets of Nottingham like in the cartoon version of Robin Hood. The frogs were sitting on the edge of the stairs, their long legs and feet hanging down the wall. As I passed them I entered a lobby that had a table, some couches and of course a piano. Pianos are always somehow involved in horror, or hauntings, or all things paranormal. There was no front desk, bell to ring, or a even a person around, so I just sat down on the couch. I looked next to me and noticed the lamp. The base was a chubby baby angel, but if you looked closer its face looked distorted. Its eyes two big empty circles, its mouth kind of drooping to the side, like it was screaming. Oh my God. I took out my phone and began snap chatting the entire lobby when I realized I probably should figure out how to get my keys. I called the number to the Inn and what sounded like a friendly elderly man picked up. “Hello, I’m trying to check in,” I explained to him as I knelt on the rug, my butt raised in the air, zooming in on the possessed baby angel’s face and adding it to my snap story. “Oh yes, one moment,” the voice said and then hung up. I sat back down on the couch. I looked at the sign sitting on the table:
Wifi Network: MIVI HOUSE
Do they know happiness is spelled wrong? I looked at the frogs whose heads looked like they had turned slightly. The MIVI HOUSE, where you check in but you don’t check out…..
Twenty minutes and seven thousand snap chats later, a small Korean man came through a door that I thought was a closet with a set of keys. “Hello,” he said grabbing my bags and beginning to drag them up the stairs past the frogs. “Uh, my name is Jennifer, I have a reser-” I trailed after him standing at the bottom of the stairs, peering up at him as he marched up the stairs like a robot. I looked at the frogs and began following the little Korean man. At the top of the stairs was a floral wallpapered hallway and a row of wooden doors with gold placards on the outside each reading a different name. When we got to M. Moore, the Korean set my luggage down and unlocked the door. As it opened and I stepped inside I was blasted by freezing cold air. I didn’t even get a chance to ask who M. Moore was before the Korean man nodded, an accomplished look on his face, he had successfully taken me to my room- his job was finished. He marched away without another word and I was left alone. I closed the door and looked around. The bed had a huge wooden frame and above the bed spread, which was covered in little blue birds, there was a series of wooden heads, small heads, carved into the headboard. When I looked closer their faces looked youthful, but pained. I shuddered, wooden…child heads. Next to the bed was a statue of a naked male wearing a Grecian looking skirt and feathers around his ears. He was embracing a horse that looked like it was being branded from behind, its eyes fierce and its mouth open and all it’s horse teeth showing. A chill went down my spine.
I walked across the room passing a massive wooden dresser which contained a lamp with a base of copper men, clothed and in top hats, playing different string and horn instruments, and a stack of books. I picked up one of the books, Tender is the Storm and put it back down, unable to look at the rest of the collection. I opened the bathroom door and was met by a drippy sink, pink cheetah towels that were crusty to the touch, and a toilet that I can only describe as ancient looking. It wasn’t not clean, it just looked rusted over and like it may fall apart on you somehow. Like if you sat down the seat might shift and if you tried to flush the handle would break off. I turned to the corner of the bathroom and looked at the shower. The rope shower head was attached to the ceiling and was wrapped and hanging in a way that made it look slightly like a noose. The shower curtain was nice though, it was purple and had a chain of smiling cartoon cats across the top. It was then I noticed the soap in the shower. It was an unmarked bottle of yellow liquid, on the outside of the plastic bottle was a picture of a psychedelic toad. I sniffed it. It smells like salad dressing.
I took my phone out and had started to take a snap chat of the rips in the wallpaper, drawing REDRUM with the paint tool to send to my parents when my phone started buzzing. It was Dakota, who was going to meet me in Oahu the next day. “How’s the Inn?” he asked. I didn’t even know where to begin, “There’s wooden heads on the bed and bluebirds, REDRUM, romance novels, I didn’t bring soap, statues of naked men, trumpets, horse teeth!” I said. “Ok, ok, I don’t need to know anymore, is it cold at least?” “Freezing…like…like HELL,” I stuttered. “Hell is hot Jenn, are you going to be ok?” I had opened my suitcase and was covering the statue next to my bed with a shirt. “Yeah, yeah, of course,” I said as I draped my underwear over all the wooden heads above my bed. “I’ll sleep,” I said.
Sleep, sleep, sleep I repeated over and over to myself later that night as I lay in my blue bird wooden head bed, smelling like toad salad dressing soap, trying to will myself to sleep. I imagined the statues coming to life in the dark and crawling onto the bed to possess me and I finally understood why people don’t enjoy scary movies. I looked up and could see the lace from my underwear dangling above me, but it didn’t help, I knew what was underneath…a wooden head. I wondered if I should try reading, but I hadn’t brought a book with me. I went back to the dresser and looked at Tender is the Storm again. “Headstrong heiress Sharisse Hammond wants no part of the New York society marriage that has been arranged for her. So she heads west across a vast and dangerous land — with no intention of honoring her agreement to become the mail-order bride of a rugged Arizona rancher.” I put it down and looked at the other book, a Bible. I climbed back into the bed and turned the TV on. I put HGTV on and felt slightly reassured as I watched a man refurbish a couch. Then my mind started wandering and I started thinking about how I was on an island, far away from all the states on the mainland, and how if I became possessed, I would probably just sink into the ocean and die alone, but this was not an unfamiliar thought. I’ve contemplated this before while safe in my own home. I finally fell asleep underneath the series of heads to the complaints of a newly wed couple that the bathroom their realtor showed them only had one sink, but they did like that the appliances were upgraded. Surprisingly, the only nightmare I had was that my car was getting repossessed because of neglected payments.
In the morning light, the first thing I noticed when I opened my eyes was a used bandaid stuck to the wall across from where you lay your head on your pillow. This is the second most hanis thing I’ve ever seen in a hotel room next to my pillow. Once when staying in a hotel in Northern California, some hostile guest had carved the word bitch into the wall. I guess this is a common area to vandalize if you feel the need to. I sent my mom a snap of the bandaid to which she responded, Jenn is that yours?, and then took another shower using the toad soap and crusty towels before running out the door to go to work. On my way down the stairs I noticed some porcelain dolls wearing petty coats that I had missed last night and I stopped to snap them. Snap chat has completely ruined my life because I cannot just live without feeling the urgent need to document not just all the weird things I see, but me being weird and sending it out to everyone I know, which if explained using legal jargon is probably just simply defined as harassment. I imagine my old boss from the mainland who I never talk to, but am still “snap chat friends” with, opening snaps from me of creepy dolls and weird lamps, or me lip syncing Mariah Carey songs while driving, and just wondering why I’m haunting her and why she hasn’t deleted me out of her life completely yet.
When Dakota got to the hotel, I followed him around watching his face, waiting for his eyes to widen or his expression to change, but he didn’t even raise his eyebrows. Instead, he chose to focus on how pleasant the temperature was. It’s always hot and humid in Hawaii so it’s true, you do appreciate concealed rooms that are cold, but his ability to block out everything else was a testament to his ability to see the light at the end of the darkest tunnel. “Wow, what is this system?! It’s so cold in here!” “I know,” I said tapping my foot on the floor, “I’m suspicious of it to,” I added, looking into the eyes of the angry horse. “No, it’s great!” he said. “Just wait until you meet the toilet,” I advised, “You want to talk about how cold it is, that old can will freeze your ass off when you sit down on it,” I told him. He stared at me expressionless. “Ice cheeks,” I whispered, placing my hand on the dresser and realizing it was resting on top of the Bible.
Dakota and I survived the Manoa Inn without becoming possessed, unless the possession hits you randomly, weeks after your stay. There was one night we returned and the bathroom door was shut, but the light was on, casting an eerie glow. “IT’S HAPPENING,” I said, turning to run out the door. “Stop, we probably left the light on,” Dakota said turning on the other lights and opening the door. We peered inside. “They gave us new towels,” Dakota pointed out. I ran my hand down the new brown cheetah towels. “Still crusty though…” I observed. We saw not another soul the entire week, it was like we were staying in our own private haunted house with tiny Koreans living in the walls. We checked out in a similar fashion to checking in, only this time a tiny Korean woman came out of the closet door and took the keys from not me, but Dakota. She either wasn’t aware, or she didn’t seem suspicious or phased that a different person returned the keys than the one that checked in, but again, no questions asked. Just a polite, “Thank you, see you next time,” and then she disappeared through the magic door. Overall, I would recommend this Inn to everyone and I’m hoping to copy and paste this entire thing to the Manoa Inn’s Yelp page while also rating it five stars. I’d add that you should defiantly go in the fall, right before Halloween, it’s the only appropriate holiday to spend at the lovely Manoa Valley Inn.