“Hey, bro, where’s Dane?” Knox, one of my best buddies growing up, playfully shoved my shoulder.
“Hiding...in the studio as usual, man. Why?” I rubbed my shoulder. Yeah, Knox could seriously hurt me, I chuckled to myself. The man stood at 6 feet 4, made out of pure muscle. He is the best badass drummer we’ve ever had, and the funniest. He was always the class clown in high school, and thankfully, one of my best friends.
“I’ve got some great news! We’re Number One, Again!!! For eight straight weeks, our songs have been in the top spot, thanks to the boy genius in there,” He thumbed the open door to what used to be my other best buddy Dane’s garage, which was now turned into a professional recording studio, thanks to the shitload of money the band earned from our last tour.
The huge house and lot, which the studio stood on, was his mom’s property, and all Dane’s now. He managed to save up enough cash to finally afford to complete mortgage payments on his mother’s home, which would have been sold to someone else, if he hadn’t rescued it, especially after Dane’s stepdad had passed away.
Dane lived not too far from my parents’ home, and Knox’s parents’ home. We were practically on the same street, not too far from each other. Although both me and Knox didn’t live with our folks, Dane had opened his doors to us, since it was huge, and gave us the option to live there instead, and we said ‘yes’.
As usual, we cracked the door open some more, and the melodious sounds of guitar strings being plucked hit our ears. We were literally spying on Dane, who sat, barefoot, cross-legged on the couch, dressed only in his ripped jeans and nothing else. He literally looked like he had crashed on the sofa last night and just woken up. His curly dark locks were sticking up all over his head.
A bone-dry coffee mug was sitting at one corner of the coffee table, while its’ owner gritted a pencil between his teeth, with a pile of music sheets scattered everywhere. My hardworking buddy had pulled another all-nighter, as if he was cramming for some major exam, only this was going to be our third album, since our band hit the high notes with the two previous ones, topping playlists all over the country, and then, the world.
“Hey, good morning buddy, can I get you a refill?” I pointed to the empty coffee mug.
“Uh-huh” was the only response I got from the dude, whose thick eyebrows furrowed in sheer concentration as he wrote out the chords he’d been strumming on his Fender guitar. He loved that instrument even better than any woman I’d seen Dane with, not that I was pointing out that he was a womanizer.
But I wasn’t claiming Dane to be a saint either. Yeah, he’s had his fair share of hot women falling at his feet but he’d been faithful to only two women: his mother and a lovely girl named Karena...but that was two years ago...
Vancouver concert, 2 years ago:
Women screamed Dane’s name on stage, clamouring for his attention as the crowd surged towards the front, only to be held back by big, burly security guards, Jaden and Finn. When the band announced that they were going to do ‘Skins’, their raunchiest, sexiest hit yet, it only meant one thing – that they would be performing their last set completely shirtless, which made the fans scream louder.
Knox beat them in with his sticks, and the first few chords from the Rhodes, sent people over the edge. It was a raw sound that Slade, our keyboard player, our latest acquisition, and my step- brother, loved to death. Then, it was followed by a killer riff on guitar from Dane, in answer to Jarod’s rhythmic bass.
The crowd stood on their feet, people screaming the band’s name, “ROCK HEARTS!!!” out loud in the huge arena. Dane led them into a singalong, where the enthusiastic crowd sang back to him. I stood back stage, watching the aura that surrounded the band members. This was the stuff of history in the making. These guys were growing up together as legends, led by a handsome front man, a killer guitarist who knew his music well enough to allow it the freedom it deserved.
The show ended with some killer pyrotechnics on stage, and a burst of golden paper flakes and streamers bathed the crowd below. They were still clapping and stomping, but I’d called it quits, because the guys were seriously tired and I didn’t want them to exhaust all their energy before tomorrow night. These were the times when I’ve had to babysit the guys and make sure they were amped up for the remaining 5 shows of the tour.
“Woohoo! Guys, that was awesome!!! Another one bites the dust! How many more to go? Only about 5 more shows to go, guys! Good show!” I chuckled, as Dane clapped my back in response.
“Awh, you know we always deliver” He winked, before dashing off to find his girl.
“Hey, Karena babe, wait up!” Dane called out to her, as she was already busily helping him pack up his guitar. “Come here, everybody...” Dane announced excitedly, grabbing Karena’s hand, setting the guitar case down on the floor backstage.
Everyone gathered around - the sound engineers, technicians, the crew, Madge, my co-manager, the band members...everybody. We all wondered what was up, seeing Dane all excited as he led his girl out into the midst of us.
To our surprise and especially Karena’s, Dane went down on one knee, producing a small lacquer box from his jeans’ back pocket, opening it, revealing the most beautiful diamond encrusted ring with a bright red ruby in the shape of a heart sitting right at its’ center.
Then exhaling slowly, he spoke, “Karena, I’ve never known another girl who would watch my back in case of anything, except you. I knew there was someone special for me out there and fate had it that we would meet and be more than just friends.
I never thought that, in the short time that I’d known you, that you would become so much more to me. You proved to me that you were more than just a pretty face. You stuck to your guns even when things got rough, even between us at one point. I’m gonna make us legal, so, here goes! Would you consider taking this son-of-a-bitch kneeling in front of you for life?”
Karena rolled her eyes at the way he presented his proposal, shaking her head, teasingly, “Hmm...Let me think about it...Well, truth be told, you were a pain in the ass...” Everyone chuckled at that comment. She tapped her lower lip with her finger coyly, then yelled out loud, “YES!!!”
“Woo-Hoo!!! My girl just said ’YES’ everybody!” Dane yelled, placing the ring upon her finger. He jumped up, hoisted her up in his arms and spun her around, much to the delight of all us witnesses. It was the most beautiful thing ever.
“Let’s celebrate!” The entire crew yelled, but before we could even head out the door, the media had caught wind of the proposal, and ambushed us just as we were leaving. I managed to maneuver Dane and Karena into one car, with our close friend and security guard, Finn driving, while the rest of the bandmembers, bundled into two other vehicles with Madge and myself, following close behind Dane and Karena’s car.
The representatives of the media jumped into their own vehicles to follow suit. I was livid! I kept barking out orders left and right to both Jaden and Joshua who were driving the other cars, as we watched Finn just barely skim past the green light, in order to escape the media in hot pursuit, before it turned red. But then, we all gasped in horror.
Everything suddenly happened as if it was in slow motion...
An oncoming car swerved in right behind them, veering to the right, clipping them hard in the back, and that was enough to send the damn car flipping. The left side door flung open, catapulting Dane out onto the road, while the car kept flipping over and over and over...
When it finally came to a stop, upright, Finn was not moving. He had probably sustained serious injuries, and we wondered how Karena was. We stopped our cars immediately. I ran over to Dane, trying hard not to freak out, while the rest of the band members ran over to both Finn and Karena still in the car.
Madge jumped on her phone and called for the police and ambulance service. They came quickly, in about five minutes, as the paramedics came rushing out of their vehicle to attend to the injured.
It turned out that Finn had taken the worst of it, having suffered a broken neck. He was no longer breathing and had turned deathly pale, his lips blue. He would sadly be pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Karena, in turn, was barely hanging on. The seatbelt did nothing to save her. It had torn on impact and she had been tossed around inside like a rag doll, hitting her head and body on everything. She, too, was unconscious when we got to her, and we were afraid to move her in case anything was broken. We hoped that she would make it, as she was still breathing though ragged.
Dane was lying unconscious on the road with a few scratches on his face, his arm oddly bent at an angle and barely moving. Thank God, he was still breathing, having sustained a broken arm, a few bruised ribs and a mild concussion, from having injured his head slightly when he hit the ground.
The car that hit them, stopped dead, just shy of a couple of inches from where Dane lay. The driver stumbled out, looking dazed and confused. He stank of alcohol, and thankfully, the cops were there to arrest him on a DUI.
Karena was still fighting for her life in surgery, while Dane lay unconscious in a hospital bed in the emergency ward. Damn, what a shit evening this turned out to be, and that was just the start of it. We received word by early next morning that Karena was gone. She didn’t survive the operation. We were totally devastated.
How the hell was I going to even let my best buddy know that the woman he was intending to marry was no longer with us, when he came to?