Sleep weighed heavily in his voice. His vision was slowly coming into focus. The clock next to the bed taunted him. It was half past three in the morning. The phone had broke him from his restless slumber, and without thinking he answered the phone before he could screen the number.
“Echo? You need to come home right away!”
“Dad? Is that you? What the fuck? How did you get this number?”
Echo had not spoken to his father in nearly 10 years, and if another 10 years had gone by in silence, it still would have been too soon.
“Echo, I don’t have time for your shit right now. You need to get your bead twirling ass home.”
“Bead twirling? Classy, dude. Fuck off.”
Echo hung up the phone unconcerned with what his father wanted or needed. He had spent years avoiding the home of his youth. He left that hell shortly after his mother relieved herself of her mortal coil -overwhelmed by years of abuse and depression. His father had been the source of both.
“I thought you said the next time we’d speak it would be on the other side of this life, asshole!” He shouted into the darkness of his room. Painful memories flooded into his mind’s eye uncontrollably as he cursed his father.
He struggled against protesting muscles to sit up, and his eyes burned against the blinding light of his now lit lamp. He was wide awake; seething with anger.
“C’mon Echo. Calm down. You can still get an hour of sleep if you just…fuck it!”
He tossed the blankets aside and threw himself out of bed making his way to his dresser. There he opened the decanter containing an amber liquid and poured himself a drink. The liquid was soothing; burning slightly as it travelled down his throat and into his stomach. He let out a satisfied exhale through his nostrils; the sweet aroma of caramel and oak traveled through him with the sensation of smoke.
He set down his glass and picked up the black beaded rosary laying neatly next to the decanter. The smooth cool of the rounded glass beads interrupted by coarse metal chain links helped him to focus inward with prayer and meditation. Deep breaths guided him along each bead until he held the crucifix tightly in his palm.
“Peace, Echo. Peace. That man has no hold over you. His cult has no hold of you. You are free, and you are freed of that hell.”
Over and over he repeated this mantra until the memories flooding his mind faded into darkness. With meticulous gentleness he set the rosary back in its place and set off to shower and start a long day.