Pop gave me some refreshing news, reminding me of how much I missed him. As a beer connoisseur and home brewer, he was excited to check out what locally brewed ale Bellingham had to offer, and informed me we were going to a store to buy some for his collection, then we would go out to lunch at a brewery he’d researched. I smiled genuinely for the first time in months, grateful to be back. While on our way to the store, however, I nearly had a heart attack as Mom’s phone rang. The caller ID told us it was Theo. We had literally been gone for 15 minutes, 20 tops. He continued to call and call and text, trying to get in touch with me. I was finished with Theo. I didn’t even want to talk to him, and even texting him was not an option in my mind. I was free. Mom continued to ignore the calls and only brought her phone in the store to communicate with my Aunt Neeta, who, in addition to being the go-between when I’d first left, had also provided my parents with tons of background information on Theo, none of which I’d been eager to believe at the start, but after two months I didn’t know what kind of trouble he had caused.
Pop migrated to the large walk-in refrigerator at the back of the store. At first, he didn’t think there was enough of a selection, but it was only because he hadn’t seen the opposite wall. Needless to say, he bought a couple cases of different beers and came out happy. Mom decided to play a joke on me while he was searching, and, noticing I was zoning out, asked me why I was staring at a man directly across from me. He was an elderly gentleman and I hadn’t realized I was staring. In a knee-jerk response, I quickly apologized before realizing Mom was joking. She was shocked and related the story to Pop to my embarrassment. I couldn’t believe how much control Theo had exerted over me and knew it would take a long time to recover.