Most doctors in almost all aspects of their lives had to deal with uncertainty of people’s motives – were they only attracted to their title and clout – their networking value, to their wealth and equity, or to their personality and self? It would make sense that single doctors, perhaps divorced or of a certain age would be most cognizant of those around them. Dr. Daniel Stewart was not most doctors. Dr. Daniel Stewart had always been attracted to shiny things. Much like that tropical bird. His preference had been blondes, but occasionally a brunette would do him just fine.
Dr. Daniel had other habits reminiscent of other animals. Gorillas for example did things in groups and pecking order. There was an alpha male, in charge of the group, who would allow himself to be groomed by the strongest female. Dr. Daniel enjoyed having his women dress him up like a presentation, subtly matching their own constructed versions of themselves they chose to portray. Similarly, over the years dogs earned their reputation for shitting where they eat. When Dr. Daniel had a shiny, new partner he would show it off everywhere he went. His gym became their gym. His favorite sushi place became their favorite sushi place. His dentist, his acupuncturist, even his high end grocery store all became theirs as well.
It was only after these relationships had ended when Dr. Daniel rethought this strategic error. When he suddenly felt annoyance or apprehension about going to his acupuncturist or taking his sons out for a sushi dinner. He would avoid them at first. Trying to ignore the things he had been accustomed to – driving further away to find other towns’ variations on his hometown gems. Not that his hometown gems were the stereotypical down-home, mom and pop places. Instead they were the upper echelons of mom and pop boutiques. Out of a county of affluent towns, Dr. Daniel’s town was the upper crust of them all. They had competitors, but it was only a matter of time before Dr. Daniel would grow tired of their inferior products and services, distracted with work, and the pursuit of newer and shinier toys before he would end up returning to his places. Always knowing that the potential to run into his exes existed in these spaces. He had never thought that running into any of them would end like this.
Dr. Daniel Stewart left his home on the morning of February 2nd and headed to work. He wasn’t going in to see patients, just had to pick up a few files from his office and check in with the part-time bookkeeper, part-time receptionist, Ana. She had been doing an incredible job, he was hoping she would change her mind about doing only part-time work and take on a full time position as office manager. She seem reluctant every time he mentioned it. He had a feeling there was something she wasn’t telling him, but he didn’t push it. As long as she kept doing the caliber of work she was doing he could deal. Dr. Daniel was in and out of the office in an hour and forty-five. He was right on schedule for his next stop. Running into the watch shop on Main Street, Dr. Daniel noticed a beautiful woman admiring a rather stunning necklace in the window. The woman blushed as he nodded his head at her and entered the store. He quickly picked out a name brand watch – purchased three of them – and the necklace the woman had been eyeing as he arrived. In his mind it was always good to keep a nice piece of jewelry on hand.
The woman at the shop had wrapped two of the watches and fit his to his wrist. Since the store had their measurements saved, his sons would be able to wear theirs immediately as well. Looking down at this phone Dr. Daniel did a run through on time. He definitely had enough of it to make a quick stop at his chiropractor before meeting his sons for their late lunch. There had been two cars in the lot when he pulled in, one of which was in the “Receptionist” parking spot. The wait should have been minimal, he calculated as he got out of his car, leaving his coat in the driver’s seat. He wasn’t concerned with anyone who arrived after him. At least he hadn’t been until after his adjustment, when he was on his way out. There sitting in the waiting room, clearly behind the two patients who came in after Dr. Daniel was Ariena. The bits from her makeup sparkling against the reflection of her phone’s screen light. Her full lips painted pink matched her tight workout fleece – her long chemically treated and dyed blonde hair pulled in a manicured ponytail. Her nails tapped against her screen as she scoured the internet for something that she needed, at least that’s what Dr. Daniel figured she was doing. Ariena had been many things, while some of them were more complex than others, he internet shopping habit wasn’t one of them.
He wanted to say hi, she had done something different with her fillers, it made her look younger than when they had been together. The blonde in her hair was a lighter, icier color than the warmer look she used to pay for. Ariena looked good. Dr. Daniel couldn’t resist himself. She blushed, something else new for Ariena since their time together. They made very polite small talk and as he was headed out of the door, proud of himself for sticking to his time budget and not falling subject to Ariena’s improved looks he felt her soft hand touch his bare arm. Maybe they should get lunch, and have a talk, Ariena had suggested. A lot had happened since and maybe it would be good for them. Color rose once more through her cheeks. Lunch wouldn’t work, he had a date – two actually – his sons. He would be around for dinner, if she didn’t want to wait for another day. Apparently she cooked now, and would be coming over around 8:00 pm for a late dinner to match his late lunch date with his kids. Dr. Daniel left his chiropractor’s all around better than how he went in.
Over lunch he gave his two sons their watches. He was proud of them. Being so close in age, yet still friends with each other. Laughing over which one was captain of the football team instead of the lacrosse team or vice versa. He didn’t usually spoil them, not with watches every lunch, but today had been a special lunch. Tyler had set a record for the school in football and Evan had received his early acceptance and scholarship information (unofficially of course) to his first choice college, the same place where Tyler planned on attending and Dr. Daniel had done his undergrad. These boys more than anything else, were his legacy in all ways. He was proud of them, and himself for having such fine sons. They all deserved a little diamond action on their wrists.
He didn’t tell them about his dinner with Ariena, instead he talked to them briefly about the practice, told them about his new fitness routine – one that allowed him to work out and not further destroy his damaged knee – and asked for pointers, and was pretty caught up on his own life during the drive from the restaurant to the movie theater. Usually the guys tried to pick active things for after lunch, but this was an action movie with everyone’s favorite starlet spending half the feature tied up and naked. It would definitely have action. After the movie, with some time to spare, the trio stopped for ice cream before Dr. Daniel dropped them off at Evan’s car. After quick goodbyes, Evan and Tyler zoomed off to enjoy their Saturday night, while Dr. Daniel peeled off toward home to freshen up before his dinner date. While talking to Ariena sounded promising, he was hoping she would have something even more interesting for dessert.
Dr. Daniel had taken no more than eight steps into his house before he smelled the aroma of something delicious wafting from the kitchen, notes of imported and limited perfumes dancing along the edges. Freshening up would have to wait. Tossing his overcoat on the stairway, Dr. Daniel headed further down the hall straight toward the kitchen. As his knee buckled, he saw not one beautiful silhouette, but two. Dr. Daniel felt confused, probably because his head had landed hard on the marble floor and because he was looking at Ariena and Miria. Miria had been his ex after Ariena. Miria looked better than the last time he saw her, but not as good as Ariena had. Her fillers and hair color routines had stayed the same. She was thinner than the last time he saw her, her body more toned as well. It seemed for an objective perspective, they had put their resources into different aspects of their looks. He tried to laugh at the coincidence, but was met instead with a sharp pain as his head moved against the ground. The pain radiating from his knee was so bad it was almost numbing.
He looked up into four eyes, barely made up and lacking an overwhelming amount of expression. Dr. Daniel was waiting for either woman to offer help or an explanation. Instead Miria headed to the other side of the kitchen and returned with handcuffs, a gag ball, and a mermaid tail blanket, the adult sized one from the mommy and me matching pair he had bought her and her daughter. Dr. Daniel felt a wave of nausea. He assumed it was from the pain, which he was willing to go away. With the arsenal that Miria just pulled out, he was excited to see what the evening held in store.
Ariena helped sit Dr. Daniel up against the refrigerator and handcuffed him through both door handles while Miria took off his pants and slid on the mermaid tail blanket. Not what he had been expecting, but when a pretty woman ties a man up he goes with it, when it’s two he’ll offer to help. Dr. Daniel made no attempts to resist as the women worked in tandem to get the gag ball in and secured. It wasn’t until he watched as both women erupted into a fit of giggles as the left the kitchen that Dr. Daniel began to question what was going on. The pain in his head and his knee were getting worse. Looking around the room he didn’t see any water on the floor, only the silk scarf he had bought for one of the women for Valentine’s day one year. He couldn’t remember which one, as a lot of the items they each picked out had been similar in price and style. He strained his neck, sticking it out as far as possible to attempt to look down the hall. He watched as Ariena picked up his coat, checked the pockets, and threw it on the floor. He thought of the necklace he had bought earlier. He had left it in his coat pocket. Dr. Daniel wondered if Ariena had taken it. She had complimented his new watch earlier that day. Maybe she knew him well enough. He wondered if she did take it and whether or not she would tell Miria. He knew that both women cherished their diamonds. Dr. Daniel’s mind began to drift from the pain.
A crash jolted him awake. A bolt of pain shot through his skull and down his leg as he flinched. There were a parade of crashes following the first. The room was dark. Dr. Daniel could barely see around the kitchen. The scarf was no longer there – neither were the cuffs, the mermaid tail, or the gag ball. His pants were on, but not secured. The pain was only getting worse. Dr. Daniel screamed as he tried to stand up. The racket upstairs stopped. There was a rumbling bounding down the stairs. Dr. Daniel hoped the women were okay. A pit in his stomach told him they were no longer here – how they weren’t here was what worried him the most.
The sound barreled down the hall. Dr. Daniel saw two darkly dressed figures running straight at him. At once Dr. Daniel felt pain all over his body. From the sounds the two figures were making they sounded to be men. They were screaming words like “prick, rapist, fucker,” and other things Dr. Daniel couldn’t make out. He didn’t understand what was happening. “Annabell, Maria, nice girls, advantage, disgusting,” it sounded as though the two men were accusing him of doing something awful to his ex-girlfriends. Dr. Daniel tried to explain himself through the continued screaming, “privileged, rich, white, blonde, blue.” They weren’t listening. Blood was now spurting from his body. The pain from hitting his head before was far from him mind as he tried to protect his face. The violence stopped for a moment, as did the shouting. Dr. Daniel sensed the two men were still around. After a few minutes he looked up. There were no longer in the kitchen but they weren’t gone. Dr. Daniel could still hear them nearby. He watched in horror as the two men re-entered the kitchen carrying weights from his workout room. Dr. Daniel had realized too late that they cost of the weights wouldn’t be in replacing them, but his face. As his cheek bones shattered under his skin Dr. Daniel thought about the two girls, and hoped they had gotten out alive.
A thorough investigation of Dr. Daniel Stewart’s whereabouts on the day of his home invasion and murder revealed nothing out of the ordinary. A quick trip to work, a stop in a local jewelry store, an adjustment at the chiropractor, lunch and the movies with his sons. He hadn’t run into any enemies, exes, or to the best of anyone’s knowledge extraterrestrials. There were no fingerprints left at his house. There were two different shoe prints in men’s sizes 10.5 and 13, but the sneaker print was from a popular brand. Dr. Daniel’s home security system had been shut off hours before, his sons verified he sometimes shut the system off instead of turning it back on – for as smart as their father was, he was sometimes distracted, usually by beautiful and shiny things.