The full moon bathed the cul d’ sac in a brilliant glow of white light. Echo stood before the vacant home of his youth. The lawn was overgrown and neglected. Rolled up newspapers lay strewn across the driveway. The house looked as if it had been abandoned for some time.
Echo walked the weed infested walkway to the front door. The doorknob refused to yield as he attempted to open the door. Just as he had expected the house had been locked up. It was of no matter to him, he remembered numerous ways he had bypassed locked doors when he would return home at odd hours as a youth.
He quietly made his way to the fence leading to the backyard. With a running start he scaled the rickety wooden boards. On the other side of the fence wild grass and weeds came up nearly to his waist. It was obvious the man had not taken a lawnmower to the yard in several years.
Cautiously he waded through the grass and avoided old pits dug out of the earth. In moments he had stepped onto the filthy cement slab which served as a back porch. Both sliding doors were locked with wooden dowels wedged into the inside rails to prevent them from being forced opened. Only one other entry point remained.
Following the edge of the house Echo found himself standing before the bathroom window. It had rarely ever been locked and often overlooked because of its location on the far side of the house. With a slight jostling motion he removed the screen and gave a forceful push on the window. After a few tries the window loosened and slid up on its railing. A few moments later he was inside massaging the painful scrapes along his ribs earned from crawling through the small window.
Not as young as I used to be.
Mildew and mold hung heavy on stale air. Books, clothes, couch cushions, knick knacks, and all manner of junk lay strewn around the house. Echo couldn’t tell if the place had been ransacked or if his father just didn’t care about the state of his home. He had never been known for performing what he considered women’s work.
He rummaged a flashlight out of an open junk drawer. The electricity to the place had been cut and the only illumination inside came from the moonlight pouring through filthy unwashed windows.
Cobwebs clung to every corner. He paused in the hallway between his old room and the kitchen. The light of the flashlight hovered over a hole in the wall. He could still feel the impact, the feeling of drywall giving way to the back of his skull, the terror that gripped him as his father slammed his head repeatedly against the wall in a fury of blind rage. He was only eleven at the time and had accidently burned the hash browns his father demanded for breakfast that morning.
He didn’t fight back, and he hated himself for it. He just let his father repeatedly bash his skull into the wall. If the walls could speak, they would testify to the many incidents that still haunt him. Dropping the light from the hole he continued on.
Each room looked as if had been rummaged through. Belongings thrown about as if a frantic child had gone room to room in a frenzied search for a lost security blanket or favorite toy. He could not imagine his father spending the energy going through every nook and cranny of the house. He had always been content living in a small corner of his room hypnotized by the soft glow of a computer screen flashing various violent pornographic images or the digitized landscapes of his flight simulators. Something wasn’t adding up; the scene unfolding before him didn’t sit right.
Someone had been to the house looking for something. Someone with a key and the foresight to lock the place up after they left. He thought of Pastor Lucas and his insistence Echo sign over the house and leave all its affairs to the church.
The computer in his father’s room was missing. The contents of the desk had been thrown about; something else that didn’t sit well with Echo. His father kept his desk immaculate. It was the only space he cared about in the whole house – an altar to lost dreams and pornography.
Every drawer laid scattered about the room, every cabinet open, the mattress had been thrown against a wall, and his clothes piled high on the floor of his closet. Echo sat down on the foot of the wooden bed frame trying to make sense of the mess he stumbled into.
His father, as far back as he could remember, had been a violent rampaging child trapped in the body of a man. A homebody who kept his rage in check only when outside eyes were upon him. A small minded man who argued with the television and the World Wide Web. He was too dumb and out of touch to hold any secrets of any value.
As he mused a glint of moonlight reflecting off the floor drew his attention. He leaned down to find his father’s old Navy dog tags next to the unopened hatch at the base of his father’s bed. He had forgotten about the small storage nook under the large bed.
Echo had been caught numerous times as a child exploring the storage nook. His father had kept various keepsakes of his past in the nook – knives, bb guns, Halloween masks, smelling salts, uniform items, strange trinkets – a fascinating treasure trove for curious little boys. Now only his father’s old Louisville Slugger and a canvas satchel sat in the nook.
A thick layer of dust had formed over the heavy wooden bat. Its weight was familiar in his hands. Many imaginary monsters had met their fate at end of the bat, and every beating he received for stealing off with his father’s treasured Louisville Slugger had been well worth it.
The satchel, however, had not been covered in dust. It appeared to have been moved into the nook recently. It was made of a durable olive drab canvas with brown leather straps and stainless steel fittings. Inside were a number of pens, pencils, and highlighters along with thick black hand sewn leather journal.
On the inside cover his father had printed his name along with the year 1996. It was the same year they moved into the house. Flipping through pages he found hundreds of dated entries – the last entry dated the night of his suicide; August 23, 2015.
Echo threw the journal back into the satchel, slung it over his shoulder, picked up the Louisville Slugger, and headed out of his father’s room.
The doorbell rang followed by a pounding at the door.