The Ghost of Jesse James or Jack Johnson? by David Spicer

I hear noise from the attic. This happens at night when I’m in a dreamlike state. I credit the sounds to mice, squirrels, or raccoons. I hope there aren’t any, but the noises grow louder. Two dark mornings ago my wife and I awoke when the windows in our bedroom shook. Somebody was banging against them. I couldn’t discern who it was—the image was foggy, ethereal. It moved quickly up the outside stairs to the attic. The next morning I walked to the attic. It was neat though dusty. I noticed that the small white flowered chair had an imprint on the cushion, as though someone had been sitting on it. A box I had kept behind the small clasped door had been retrieved and upturned, resulting in letters strewn by the chair. Somebody had been reading secrets locked away for decades. We didn’t have guests except perhaps for the rare small animal that managed to intrude. Then I noticed the initials JJ had been carved into the small table by the chair. We didn’t know anyone with the initials. Since we believe in ghosts, my wife and I have concluded that the ghost of Jesse James or Jack Johnson is the nosy culprit. It could be both, stealing each other’s thoughts.

David Spicer has had poems published in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Yellow Mama, Bop Dead City, unbroken, riverbabble, Chiron Review, The Naugatuck River Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of one full-length collection, Everybody Has a Story, and four chapbooks. He is the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.