In Another Life

In the 1990’s I was an animal trainer working with exotics; pinnipeds, big cats, wolves and wild dogs, birds of prey, and so much more.  Crazy fun, and of course, where I worked had a ghost.

Many, many years before, he was killed by a bear and still hung around.  I guess he was still keeping an eye on things.  If you forgot and left a gate open, he’d close it.  If you lost your keys, they’d magically appear on the desk.  Hey, this time, it wasn’t just me – all my co-workers had some experience with our resident spirit.  One smelled him smoking, in a no-smoking zone no less!  Another actually saw him and then later identified him in a photograph.

This spirit never really popped in and said hi to me, but I would feel him pass by:  the raising of hair on the back of my neck, a brush on the arm, or a shadow moving where there couldn’t be movement.

My best experience happened when I came down the hill into my work area early one morning, and heard someone whistling inside the building.  Where no one should have been.  I was the first one in to work, and no one else’s car was in our lot.

I slowed down.  Yes, that was definitely whistling, definitely inside the building.

This was one of those profound ‘proof’ moments for me.  At this point in my life, my ‘touch’ with the world of spirit was erratic; I was in my twenties and in one of those phases of my life where I doubted whether my experiences were true, yet I quite desperately wanted it to be so.  It was one thing to believe I talked to an old lady in my house when I was kid, quite another for an educated, rational, scientifically trained young woman to think she could communicate with the dead.

Sometimes it was scary, and for a while I didn’t want it to be true as much as I longed for it.  I pushed it away consciously at some point in my late teens when I went through a ‘born again’ phase.  Thankfully, that passed, along with my awkward teenage phase.

So I’d come around again to wanting to experience the paranormal, and looking for it in my life, but I had to get past some crusted on layers of guilt and fear.  It took some doing.

I remember when I first found out about the ghost through fellow trainers sharing stories and I wanted to see him or something.  Well, it’s easy enough to explain away a closed gate or found keys, which soon enough happened; a physical, not ghostly co-worker could have done –almost- all of them.

If there was someone inside the building who should not have been, I needed to know, so now I stepped carefully down the road, stretching my ears to see if there were any other sounds, like footsteps, doors, anything.  Nope.  Just the whistle, a tune I’d never heard.

It continued as I made my way toward the building and lasted right up until I reached out and touched the still-locked gate.  Then it cut out as if it had never been.  All the other doors were locked as well.

With my hand on the lock, chills ran all over my skin and goose pimples stood out on my arms.  I whispered to the phantom keeper.

“Hi, that was awesome!  It’s really cool you’re here.”

No images came into my mind, no orbs floated across the dark inside of the building. Not even a blast of cold on the warm summer morning.

Drat.

But I also knew I had heard, with my own ears, the whistling of a spirit.  No dream, no imagination but an actual sound wave produced by a disembodied human and detected by fleshy one.  I was elated, so why was I also irritated?

The dead bear keeper had communicated something after all, his emotions. He was to busy for chitchat and irritated that I was distracting him from his work of taking care of his area to talk.