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Danny had discovered the ghost at an online auction site, not eBay but one of the wannabes. Jude moved his gaze over the item description while Danny read aloud. Danny would’ve cut his food for him if Jude gave him the chance. He had a streak of subservience that Jude found, frankly, revolting in a man. “ ‘Buy my stepfather’s ghost,’” Danny read. “ ‘Six weeks ago my elderly stepfather died, very suddenly.
Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book by Joe Hill
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He was staying with us at the time. He had no home of his own and traveled from relative to relative, visiting for a month or two before moving on. Everyone was shocked by his passing, especially my daughter, who was very close to him. No one would’ve thought. He was active to the end of his life. Never sat in front of the TV. Drank a glass of orange juice every day. Had all his own teeth.’”
“This is a fuckin’ joke,” Jude said. “I don’t think so,” Danny said. He went on, “ ‘Two days after his funeral, my little girl saw him sitting in the guest room, which is directly across from her own bedroom. After she saw him, my girl didn’t like to be alone in her room anymore, or even to go upstairs. I told her that her grandfather wouldn’t ever hurt her, but she said she was scared of his eyes.
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She said they were all black scribbles and they weren’t for seeing anymore. So she has been sleeping with me ever since. As if there could be anything else she might call about. The line hissed with white noise. Jude had been interviewed over the phone by a radio personality in Beijing and taken calls from Brian Johnson in Australia.
The connections had been as crisp and clear as if they were phoning him from down the street. But for some reason calls from Moore’s Corner, Louisiana, came in scratchy and faint, like an AM radio station that’s just a little too far away to be received perfectly. Voices from other phone calls would bleed in and out, faintly audible for a few moments and then gone.
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They might have high-speed Internet connections in Baton Rouge, but in the little towns in the swamps north of Lake Pontchartrain, if you wanted a high-speed connection with the rest of the world, you souped up a car and got the fuck out. “Last few months I been spoonin’ him food. Soft stuff he don’t have to chew. He was likin’ them little stars. Pastina. And vanilla custard.
I never met a dyin’ person yet didn’t want some custard on their way out the door.” “I’m surprised. He never used to have a sweet tooth. It was beginning to settle in that Florida was dead. When he had first heard she’d killed herself—when Jessica Price threw it in his face—it had not meant anything, because he couldn’t let it mean anything. Now, though, there was no running from it.
He felt the knowledge of her death in his blood, which went heavy and thick and strange on him. It did not seem possible to Jude she could be gone, that someone with whom he’d shared his bed could be in a bed of dirt now. She was twenty-six —no, twenty-seven; she’d been twenty-six when she left. When he sent her away. She’d been twenty-six, but she asked questions like a four-year-old. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book
You go fishin’ much on Lake Pontchartrain? What’s the best dog you ever owned? What do you think happens to us when we die? Enough questions to drive a man mad. She’d been afraid she was going mad. She was depressed. Not fashionably depressed, in the way of some Goth chicks, but clinically.
She had been overcome with it in their last couple of months together, didn’t sleep, wept for no reason, forgot to put on her clothes, stared at the TV for hours without bothering to turn it on, answered the phone when it rang but then wouldn’t say anything, just stood there holding it, as if she’d been switched off.
In high school he strung the British bullet on a leather thong and wore it around his throat until the principal confiscated it. Jude wondered that he had not found a way to kill someone in those days. He’d possessed all the key elements of a school shooter: hormones, misery, ammunition. People wondered how something like Columbine could happen. Jude wondered why it didn’t happen more often. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book
They were all there—the crushed shotgun shell, the silver empties, the two-inch bullet from the AR-15, which couldn’t be there, because the principal had never given it back. It was a warning. Jude had seen a dead man in the night, Anna’s stepfather, and this was his way of telling Jude that their business was not done. It was a crazy thing to think.
There had to be a dozen more reasonable explanations for the box, for the bullets. But Jude didn’t care what was reasonable. He wasn’t a reasonable man. He only cared what was true. He had seen a dead man in the night. Maybe, for a few minutes, in Danny’s sunsplashed office, he’d been able to block it out, pretend it hadn’t happened, but it had.
He was steadier now, found himself considering the bullets coolly. It came to him that maybe it was more than a warning. Perhaps it was also a message. The dead man, the ghost, was telling him to arm himself. There you go, said the dead man. It disoriented Jude, the way the dead man’s voice came at him out of the silence. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book
Words that had an almost physical presence, bees whirring and chasing one another around the inside of his head. His head was the hive that they flew into and out of, and without them there was a waxy, honeycombed emptiness. His head was too light and too hollow, and he would go mad if he didn’t get his own thoughts back, his own voice. The dead man was saying now, You need to show that cunt.
If you don’t mind me sayin’ so. Now get the gun. Hurry. Jude turned to get the gun, moving quickly now. Across the floor, to the desk, the gun at his feet, down on one knee to pick it up. Jude did not hear the dogs until he was reaching for the revolver. One high-strung yap, then another. His attention snagged on that sound like a loose sleeve catching on a protruding nail.
It shocked him, to hear anything else in that bottomless silence besides Craddock’s voice. The window behind the desk was still parted slightly, as he had left it. Another bark, shrill, furious, and another. Angus. Then Bon. Come on now, boy. Come on and do it. Not long after they first got on the road, Jude had told Georgia about how the dogs had gone after Craddock. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book Download
“I’m not sure even the dead man knew that Angus and Bonnie could go at him like that. But I do think Craddock sensed they were some kind of threat, and I think he would’ve been glad to scare us out of the house and away from them, before we figured out how to use the dogs against him.
” At this, Georgia had twisted around in her seat, to reach into the back and dig behind Angus’s ears, leaning far enough into the rear to rub her nose against Bon’s snout. “Who are my little hero dogs? Who is it? Yeah, you are, that’s right,” and so forth, until Jude had started to feel half mad with hearing it.
Georgia came out of the office, a key hooked over one finger, which she wiggled at him before turning and walking around the corner of the building. He followed in the car and parked at an empty spot, in front of a beige door among other beige doors, at the rear of the motel. She went inside with Angus while Jude walked with Bon along a tangle of scrub woods at the edge of the parking lot. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book Download
Then he came back and left Bon with Georgia and took Angus for the walk. It was important for neither of them to stray far from the dogs. “That isn’t your real name. Judas Coyne. It’s a pun.” She leaned toward him. “Name like that, are you from a nutty Christian family? I bet. My stepdaddy says the Bible is all bunk. He was raised Pentecostal, but he wound up a spiritualist, which is how he raised us.
He’s got a pendulum—he can hang it over you and ask you questions and tell if you’re lying by the way it swings back and forth. He can read your aura with it, too. My aura is black as sin. How about yours? Want me to read your palm? Palm reading is nothing. Easiest trick in the book.” She told his fortune three times.
The first time she was kneeling naked in bed beside him, a gleaming line of sweat showing in the crease between her breasts. She was flushed, still breathing hard from their exertions. She took his palm, moved her fingertips across it, inspecting it closely. “Look at this lifeline,” Anna said. “This thing goes on for miles. I guess you live forever. I wouldn’t want to live forever myself. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book Download
How old is too old? Maybe it’s metaphorical. Like your music is forever, some malarkey along those lines. Palm reading ain’t no exact science.” And then once, not long after he finished rebuilding the Mustang, they had gone for a drive into the hills overlooking the Hudson. They wound up parked at a boat ramp, staring out at the river, the water flecked with diamond scales beneath a high, faded-blue sky.
Fluffy white clouds, thousands of feet high, crowded the horizon. Jude had meant to drive Anna to an appointment with a psychiatrist—Danny had set it up—but she’d dissuaded him, said it was too nice a day to spend it in a doctor’s office. The same caption that identified this man as Nguyen Trung described the setting as a field hospital in Dong Tam, where Trung had received care for combat-related injuries.
That was almost right. Trung had lopped off his own fingers only because he thought they were about to attack—so it had been combat of a sort. As for what had happened to him, Jude thought he knew. Jude thought it was likely that after Trung had no more to tell Craddock McDermott—about ghosts and the work ghosts did—he’d gone for a ride on the nightroad. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book Free
The article did not say if McDermott had ever found Roy Hayes, retired professor and ultralight pilot, but Jude believed he had, although there was no rational reason to think such a thing. To satisfy himself he did another search. Roy Hayes’s remains had been laid to rest five weeks later, and in fact Craddock had not found him—not personally.
The water was too deep. A state police scuba team had gone in and pulled him out, in the place where Craddock told them to dive. Jude got an arm under Georgia and pitched himself forward, carrying her with him and out the far end of the tunnel. The smoke-blue Chevy slammed into the wall behind him with a shattering crash of steel smashing against stone.
It was a great clap of noise that stunned Jude’s eardrums, set them ringing. He and Georgia fell onto wet gravel, clear of the tunnel now. They rolled away from the side of the road, tumbled down the brush, and landed in dew-damp ferns. Georgia cried out, clipped him in the left eye with a bony elbow. He put a hand down into something squishy, the cool unpleasantness of swamp muck. Heart-Shaped Box PDF Book Free
He lifted himself up, breathing raggedly. Jude looked back. It wasn’t the dead man’s old Chevy that had hit the wall but an olive Jeep, the kind that was open to the sky, with a roll bar in the back. A black man with closecropped, steel-wool hair sat behind the steering wheel, holding his forehead. The windshield was fractured in a network of connected rings where his skull had hit it.
The whole front driver’s side of the Jeep had been gouged down to the frame, steel twisted up and back in smoking, torn pieces. “What happened?” Georgia asked, her voice faint and tinny, hard to make out over the droning in his ears. From a long way off, he could hear his dogs, barking hysterically, barking mad.