He had framed sketches of the Seven Dwarfs on the wall of his studio,
in between his platinum records. John Wayne Gacy had drawn them
while he was in jail and sent them to him. Gacy liked golden-age Disney
almost as much as he liked molesting little kids; almost as much as he
liked Judes albums.
Jude had the skull of a peasant who had been trepanned in the sixteenth
century, to let the demons out. He kept a collection of pens
jammed into the hole in the center of the cranium.
He had a three-hundred-year-old confession, signed by a witch. I
did spake with a black dogge who sayd hee wouldst poison cows, drive
horses mad and sicken children for me if I wouldst let him have my
soule, and I sayd aye, and after did give him sucke at my breast. She was
burned to death.
He had a stiff and worn noose that had been used to hang a man in
England at the turn of the nineteenth century, Aleister Crowleys childhood
chessboard, and a snuff film. Of all the items in Judes collection,
this last was the thing he felt most uncomfortable about possessing. It
had come to him by way of a police officer, a man who had worked
security at some shows in L.A. The cop had said the video was diseased.
He said it with some enthusiasm. Jude had watched it and felt that he
was right. It was diseased. It had also, in an indirect way, helped hasten
the end of Judes marriage. Still he held on to it.
Many of the objects in his private collection of the grotesque and
the bizarre were gifts sent to him by his fans. It was rare for him to actually
buy something for the collection himself. But when Danny
Wooten, his personal assistant, told him there was a ghost for sale on
the Internet and asked did he want to buy it, Jude didnt even need to
think. It was like going out to eat, hearing the special, and deciding you
wanted it without even looking at the menu. Some impulses required no
Dannys office occupied a relatively new addition, extending from the
northeastern end of Judes rambling, 110-year-old farmhouse. With its
climate control, OfficeMax furniture, and coffee-and-cream industrial
carpet, the office was coolly impersonal, nothing at all like the rest of the
house. It might have been a dentists waiting room, if not for the concert
posters in stainless-steel frames. One of them showed a jar crammed
with staring eyeballs, bloody knots of nerves dangling from the backs of
them. That was for the All Eyes On You tour.
No sooner had the addition been built than Jude had come to regret
it. He had not wanted to drive forty minutes from Piecliff to a rented office
in Poughkeepsie to see to his business, but that wouldve probably
been preferable to having Danny Wooten right here at the house. Here
Danny and Dannys work were too close. When Jude was in the kitchen,
he could hear the phones ringing in there, both of the office lines going
off at once sometimes, and the sound was maddening to him. He had
not recorded an album in years, had hardly worked since Jerome and
Dizzy had died (and the band with them), but still the phones rang and
rang. He felt crowded by the steady parade of petitioners for his time,
and by the never-ending accumulation of legal and professional
demands, agreements and contracts, promotions and appearances, the
work of Judas Coyne Incorporated, which was never done, always ongoing.
When he was home, he wanted to be himself, not a trademark.
For the most part, Danny stayed out of the rest of the house. Whatever
his flaws, he was protective of Judes private space. But Danny
considered him fair game if Jude strayed into the officesomething
Jude did, without much pleasure, four or five times a day. Passing
through the office was the fastest way to the barn and the dogs. He
couldve avoided Danny by going out through the front door and walking
all the way around the house, but he refused to sneak around his own
home just to avoid Danny Wooten.
The foregoing is excerpted from Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
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