INT: AN OLD HOUSE
FLORENCE, an aging woman, is in the family home.
The ghost of Lee Harvey Oswald is haunting the cupboard under my kitchen sink and my children just will not believe me. I shouldn't even have told them about it. Sarah, the oldest, has this way of looking at her brothers like I can't see her, like they're just waiting for me to leave so they can discuss which nursing home to put me in. They think I just can't handle this big old house by myself. But the house is not my problem. Four generations of my family have lived here, and two of my husbands. I'm not leaving.
A house is more than boards and foundations. Four generations can make a place like this into a ghost house before there's ever a ghost to house. The scraped-up floorboards are from my grandfather's limp as he dragged wooden foot across the halls. A veteran, he was, and such a furious man, so hard on my father. The smears in the wallpaper at shoulder height are from my mother, who was practically a ghost herself, always touching the wall as she walked about as though it would keep her from disappearing right through the floor. And of course there are the idle scratches along the wall inside my closet as I hid there, waiting for my father to pass by my room that night, hoping he'd continue down the hall without twisting the handle. This is prime real estate for a ghost like Lee Harvey Oswald.
I know it was Lee Harvey Oswald because he first announced himself with a gunshot that I could hear all the way upstairs. I was coming down the stairs when I heard the second shot, coming from just below the sink. When I opened the cupboard I heard the third.
Of course there were three shots. Don't let anyone tell you there weren't. I was there, you know. When President Kennedy was killed. That was with my first husband, Walter. We were visiting my sister and Walter wanted to go watch the motorcade go by. He didn't vote for Kennedy or anything, but he liked the pomp and the cars. We didn't see the "action" as you'd call it, but we heard it all. The screaming, and the gunshots. They asked us later how many shots we heard. Walter said two, but I said three, because that's how many there were. He was so…upset with me that day, because I made him look less credible. I told them I was wrong, that it was two shots. Walter said that just made it worse, changing my mind like that, and why had I even done that, opening my fat mouth. This house was good to me that week, with its long corridors and all the rooms that lead away from each other, and the floorboards that are so loud you can always hear where someone is in the house, and where they might be headed.
Sarah tells me that a banging in an old house doesn't mean it's infested with Lee Harvey Oswald. That's what she said, "infested." She said it's the pipes, not gunshots. She said she'll call a plumber. But I opened that cupboard myself, after the third gunshot, and Lee Harvey Oswald's voice was there, yelling in Russian. It sounded offensive, so I closed the door.
I'm not sure why this matters to anyone. It certainly isn't a big deal to me. He's not in the rest of the house. In fact, he stays safely contained in the cupboard. It's not like he's the most dangerous person who ever lived. He was a disturbed young man, and even that troubled soul needs a dank corner to spend the afterlife in.
I never wonder why here or why now. If all unpleasant men are forced to shamble about the earth after they die, then my house may be teeming with them already. I quite like the idea of them trapped inside the cupboards. Maybe they sit there, cramped and with aching joints in their ghostly legs, listening to the sounds of my footsteps as I pass my fingers over the handles of all the doors, shuffling from room to room.