There really is no way to avoid this retail chain because they’re everywhere but I have not shopped at that particular store in the seven months since the incident, and I refuse to purchase anything from them except for grocery items. The first clue was that the front door was locked when I got home from work one day and I had to go around to the back door to get in. We didn’t usually lock the house, which I know sounds irresponsible, but we had a couple of pretty fearsome dogs at the time and the house sat in the middle of a fenced lot. A stranger couldn’t come anywhere near the house without getting through the dogs. (Also, we were pretty poor and I figured anyone willing to come through the dogs for what little we had, needed it more than I did. And the door wasn’t really ‘locked,’ the lockset had a malfunction where if, when leaving the house, you turned the interior knob clockwise it jammed the lock and the front door then couldn’t be opened from the outside. Open the door by turning the knob counter-clockwise and everything worked fine. We were all used to this quirk and it wasn’t a problem. So the question was Who last opened the front door that would have made that mistake?
There was no satisfactory answer. A day or two later, I was vacuuming, and in the front hallway, just inside that same front door, was a small gold decorative pin sort of thing. When asked, no one claimed any prior knowledge of having seen this item. Again odd, but I did share the home with two teenagers, and you get used to odd. A week or so later while dusting shelves in the living room I find a photograph face down of a bride and groom posing with a bicycle. I don’t recognize them and set it aside to ask who it belongs to and to have them keep it in their own room. But I do look again, and darned if it isn’t Michael! Michael, who I had never seen without a beard before this photo. Michael who I’d had a five-year relationship with, but dumped five years prior for some very good reasons, but none of which were that he was scary, break into your house kind of guy.