jimmy v the ghost

I think I was nine, maybe ten
going through a phase
especially on school days
of phantom stomach pains back then

I’d been prodded and probed
and Doctor Hornet (what can I say)
asked if everything at home was okay
I said yes so the case was closed

but all the troubles were hid
which of course I didn’t show because
the plain truth was
I was a vague and generally clueless kid

so one school day it was the usual scene
mum had gone out somewhere
leaving me alone in an armchair
flicking through my sister’s Jackie magazine

when suddenly I heard a sound
from up in the attic
sneaky and erratic
the noise a ghost would make coming down

I wedged chairs against the doors
then with a rising sense of doom
ran around the living room
tipping out all the drawers

there was so little it was frightening:
paperbacks, souvenirs, photos, plants
in desperation I took my chance
with an Airfix model of an Electric Lightning

(a fighter jet from the 60s and 70s
from my brother’s wargames kit
he was into all that military shit
planes being one of his specialties)

it was less of a weapon and more of a crutch
ghosts are dead and don’t feel pain
so hitting them with a model plane
probably wouldn’t bother them overmuch

I waited in the armchair
holding the plane by the cone like a club
waiting for the terrifying ghost to show up
and when Mum came home I was still there

what she said to me I’ve no idea
memories of that time have faded
but eventually the stomach pains abated
and I saw out the rest of the year

if I could skip time and visit
myself shivering in that armchair
I’d say put the plane down, Jimmy, don’t be scared
let the ghost in, talk to it

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