I have long been captivated by the idea that ghosts exist amongst us. And there seems to be a growing consensus that this is more than mere fiction or entertainment.
Some years ago when I was a camp counselor in Minnesota, I got my first encounter with a ghost. It was just after the campers had gone to bed for the night. I was about ready to call it quits too and had parted from other counselors to take the long way back to my cabin.
I was in the middle of some Douglas firs, when quite literally out of nowhere, this glowing ghost appeared before me. Needless to say, I nearly jumped out of my skin.
It was a young woman dressed in white. She reached out to me but did not touch, probably because I took an involuntary step backward.
"Are you real?" I asked, not quite believing my own eyes.
"Tell them," she spoke strongly.
"It wasn't an accident---he murdered me."
My eyes popped wide. "Who?"
"My boyfriend. We were here when the camp first opened thirty years ago. He just snapped and ... I ended up dead. He made it seem like an accident. Everyone believed him. You must tell them the truth, so that I may rest in peace at last."
I still couldn't quite believe I was having a conversation with a ghost. But then, as I had not been drinking and wasn't prone to imagining things, seeing was definitely believing.
"What's your name?" I asked
"Why come to me, Lara?"
"It just happened beyond my control," she admitted. "You have to help me."
"Not sure I can," I told her in all honestly. "Thirty years is a longtime. I'm just a young camp counselor and not exactly equipped to deal with ghosts."
She suddenly came right upon me, so I could feel her warmth. I tried to move but was unable to, as if she had completely control over.
"Make him pay for what he did." Her features contorted. "Or else I'll haunt you forever."
I got the message, for better or worst, cringing. "All right, all right, I'll see what I can do."
She smiled. "Thank you."
"You said your boyfriend killed you. Does he have a name?"
"Yes, it's Jeffrey Mandarin."
I gulped, as the name rang a loud bell. "Jeff...are you sure...?"
"Yes. He murdered me that awful night. Now it's his turn."
I heard some rustling of leaves from behind. Turning around as though my life depended on it, I saw someone come into the clearing.
It was Jeff Mandarin, the camp director. "Barri...what are you doing out here...?"
I turned back to look at the ghost named Lara. Only she had vanished, leaving me alone with her killer.
"I was just heading back to my cabin," I told him, trying hard to keep my composure.
"Thought I heard you talking to someone."
Part of me wanted to dismiss the idea that I was looking at a stone cold killer. The other part of me knew that the ghost lady would not leave me alone if I ignored her warning.
"Actually, I was," I said. "Does Lara Kippling ring a bell?"
"What did you say?"
"You heard me."
"How do you know about her?" he asked, clearly unnerved.
"She just told me. Is that why you took this job -- to gloat over what you did?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"I think you do. The police will be very interested in what I have to say."
I wondered if I'd tipped my hand too soon when he blocked me from leaving. "You're crazy in whatever you think I did," he said.
"He's not crazy," said another voice.
It was Lara. She suddenly appeared behind Jeff. He whipped around, coming face to face with his worse nightmare.
"Lara..." he gasped.
"Yes, it's me. I've waited a longtime for this. Now we'll be together forever, as you promised before killing me."
He tried to make a run for it, but she somehow enveloped him and Jeff began clutching his throat, clearly choking. They both sank down to the ground with Lara on top of Jeff.
Then just like that, she vanished.
Jeff was dead and I was left with some explaining to do. Whether anyone believed me or not was another story altogether.
Turned out that Jeffrey Mandarin had a massive heart attack. Or this was the official cause of death anyway.
The police search of his house lead to a diary in which he admitted killing his teenage girlfriend out of jealousy.
A murder no one knew about had been solved.
I never saw the ghost of Lara Kippling again. But will never forget her.
True ghost story...
About R. Barri
Causes R. Barri Flowers Supports
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American Library Association
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to...