We were told not to whistle at night but we were teenagers and often did stuff we had been warned about. It was a summer night around midnight and we were parked alongside a country road several miles south of Anadarko, Oklahoma. There were a few house lights we could see far off in the distance but we were in almost complete darkness.
The four of us stood around my cousin's pickup truck, laughing and talking. The only other sound we could hear was the truck radio, which was turned up loud.
"Hey, remember they used to tell us not to whistle at night?" I asked
"Yeah,” my friend said. “But I'll whistle right now" He whistled the first 5 notes to the song “Whistle While you Work”
We were quiet for a bit and he did it again.
“Hey, did you hear that?” my cousin asked. He went to the cab and turned the radio down. “Whistle again”
Our friend whistled the tune again. Very faintly, we all heard the same 5 notes whistled back at us.
"Whoa, what the hell? Do it again"
He whistled and we got the same tune whistled back at us in a few seconds. The return whislte sounded like it was perhaps a quarter mile away and seemed to be coming from the countryside. There were no trees and we stared out into the darkness but couldnt see much of anything except the horizon in the distance.
"What is that? Think it's an echo? Maybe a bird?"
"A bird? What kind of bird is up this late whistling around? What if it's an owl? Whistle again"
And so it went, a few more whistles, a few seconds would pass and then a faint reply whistle until finally there was no reply.
After about a minute our friend whistled one more time and there was an immediate reply, but it was no longer faint, it was loud, and close...close as in about 30 feet away.
Just like little kids we panicked, yelling, cussing and trying to get into the truck at the same time, piling in on each other in the cab. We sped back to town and to this day I try not to whistle at night.
I was around 10 years old when I went with my grandparents on one of their regular social visits. Usually we spent a few hours at someone's house as they visited with relatives or friends and us kids would go out and play together.
As we said our goodbyes for the night and started on our way home, I was curious about how long our hosts had lived in their home.
"Have they always lived here?" I asked.
"No, they've lived in other places. One time they lived up in Ponca Country" said my grandma.
"Why did they move back?" I asked
"Something happened" my grandma said.
"What happened?" I asked
My grandma was quiet for a little while as she drove. She shot a quick glance over at my grandpa but he kept looking straight ahead.
So my grandma told me.
It was just the husband, wife and one child who lived together out in the country. There weren't many people who lived around them but they lived next to an older, abandoned building. My grandmother said the old building was supposed to have been an "ol' time" clinic, hospital or maybe even a mortuary. No one was ever certain. But late at night, the husband and wife thought they could hear voices coming from the building. Still, they did their best to ignore it because they knew voices can carry in the wind, even from a great distance.
One day the wife was very sick and spent most of the day in bed upstairs. Her husband made the evening meal for the family and called down for her to come eat. She was still very sick and had no appetite so she told him she was going to continue sleeping.
As she was laying there listening to the voices of her husband and son drifting up from the downstairs, she thought she heard a short laugh. She couldn't tell where the laugh came from so she lay very still and tried to tune out the voices of her husband and son.
She lay there for awhile and didn't hear anything. Her legs felt really warm so to cool down she pulled the blanket up , exposing her lower legs and thats when she felt it. She said it felt like a cold hand, firmly grabbing one of her ankles. She instinctively kicked at it and there was nothing there. She sat up and looked around but there was no one else in the room.
And that's what happened.
"Why don't you buy things from the thrift store?" asked our non Native friend.
"Oh, 'cause I dont know who those things belonged to," replied one of my uncles. "Maybe the people who owned them died. I don't want those things if that's the case."
"Huh? I dont get it." replied our friend. So my uncle told him:
There were these three young women who were good friends. They used to travel together and dance at powwows. Sadly, two of the friends were traveling together when they were killed in a car accident.
The custom of their tribes was that the possessions of the two women were supposed to be buried with them or disposed of in some permanent way. Instead, the two families decided to give their powwow dancing outfits to the third friend as a gift. The friend accepted the outfits and put them in a suitcase which she kept in her closet.
Soon after this, one of the families got a phone call from the friend. She was crying and hysterical. She told the family to come pick up the belongings immediately. One of the family members went to the friend's place to find out what happened. The friend was calm but still upset when she spoke about the night before.
In the middle of the night, she woke from a dream in which strange noises were coming from somewhere in her room. She didn't fully open her eyes and continued to lay on her side, facing away from the closet as she drifted back to sleep. It was quiet.
As she was going back to sleep, she heard the noise again. What she heard was whispering coming from inside her room. She sat straight up and looked towards the closet where the whispers were coming from. The closet door was open and from the street lights outside, she could see her two deceased friends, kneeling beside the suitcase of their belongings, running their hands over it. They both looked up at her and disappeared.
"So, that's why I don't take things when I don't know where they came from," explained my uncle.
They say that a traveling circus came to our area of Caddo County, Oklahoma, in the early 1900s. This was before trucks were easily available, so the circus group traveled in wagons and camped outside of town. After their performance, the circus group camped a few miles out east of town beside the river. That's where the death occurred.
No one is sure what happened. All they know is that one of the clowns drowned in the river, right there in the woods by the Indian Road.
They say the clown is still there in the woods. Some people have seen him.
My buddy's uncle said he was walking in the area with some friends around dusk. They weren't paying too much attention to their surroundings as they were visiting and laughing while strolling on their way. Something in the woods caught their attention, maybe a movement, a noise, no one can say what it was but they all looked in the same direction. What they saw was the clown. He was waving and smiling at them.
It's said that's what he does. He steps out from behind a tree, smiles and waves and steps back behind the tree so you don't see him for very long. But you know he's there somewhere in the woods.
Another relative said they saw the clown, but he wasn't in the trees.
The relative was driving to check on one of the old home places in the area. The old home places are old family homes that no one lives in anymore but every now and then someone will go out to check on them or temporarily move into them.
As the relative and his passengers drove down the long dirt-road driveway at dusk, they noticed a figure standing on the porch. They were puzzled, because there was no car parked anywhere in front of the old home place. Getting closer, the driver slammed on the brakes when he could clearly see the figure.
It was the clown, standing on the porch of the old home. The clown waved at the driver and his passengers, smiled, then turned around and walked into the house.
Robert Chanate is a member of the Kiowa Nation and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/rckiowa. He is from Carnegie, OK and currently lives in Denver, CO.