A Kick to the Head
Later, that morning...after the accident -
“Uh...water...somebody...please...” I croaked, my lips chapped, my throat parched.
“Right here, buddy” Cody lifted my head gently, so I could drink. Water never felt so good, especially now, although it wouldn’t have been my first choice since I was crazy for coffee, like most people.
“I feel as I’ve been run over by some big ass diesel truck” I muttered, partially mummified to an extent I could not move one of my arms, one leg and my ribcage was equally wrapped. “What happened?”
“You were in a car accident, a bad one...” Cody’s face darkened considerably.
“Karena...” She was the first one on my mind, as I blurted her name out while my body hurt so bad.
“Get some rest buddy. I’ll let you know later, when you’re feeling a bit stronger...” Cody spoke gently, but I wasn’t having any of it.
“Where the fuck is she, Cody? Karena, where’s my babe, Cody? Where is she?” My eyes widened, as fear struck my heart. “Cody, you better fucking tell me or I swear...” My body screamed from the pain that shot up my spinal cord.
Cody started heading for the door, sighing heavily.
“Cody? CODY! DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH! WHERE’S KARENA? CODY!!!” I started yelling, kicking up a stink so loud, that some doctor and a few nurses came barging in, trying to calm me down, the blinding pain numbing me into submission. I was still screaming out Karena’s name while in agony.
“Calm down, Mr. Zentro. You need to calm down. Get me that sedative now, nurse” The doctor ordered.
I couldn’t struggle very much, not with the male nurses manhandling me, and my body partially bandaged. Finally, Cody told me before he left the room. I know he was just hoping for me to get better before breaking the news to me, but dammit, I had to know.
Oh God...My Karena...my babe...the love of my life...gone...
I sobbed like a baby. The night before last, we had talked about a lot of stuff. She was happy, so happy that we were together. Every tabloid kept trying to slam us with stupid assumptions like ‘They won’t last. He’s probably got so many babes on the side because he’s a rockstar’ or ‘She’s keeping quiet about some dude somewhere’. We both knew it was all a load of bull crap and we didn’t care. All we had was each other...and it was enough.
In spite of all the girls clamouring to get into my pants, none of them left any impression on me. Yeah, there were the after parties in some lounge or bar, or an exclusive club somewhere. The wild parties continued discreetly in our hotel rooms afterwards until the girls snuck out, leaving us alone by morning.
Yeah, I’d been guilty of lots of one-night stands, with chicks who couldn’t be bothered with finding out who the real Dane Zentro was, just as long as he had a huge cock and could fuck their brains out in bed. It was the thrill of being with a rockstar that got them going, but that thrill long disappeared for me when I started becoming famous.
This was my life, the life of a rock star, and it kept on rambling, with interviews, appearances, brand sponsorships, going on the road, big concert gigs, and sleeping in a bus or a hotel room to the next. Feeling trapped in such a situation, there were many times that I would try to ‘escape’, leaving without any notification whatsoever, and both Cody and Madge would end up being peeved at me.
All this was going on, until Karena came along and literally stole my heart away. She thought she couldn’t compare to any of the girls who kept hanging on my arm, trying to get me high, drunk or laid or all of the above. But her simplistic look at life, and her gratitude for all the perks it granted her, had changed my point of view.
When we first met, it was at a meeting to discuss a video shoot for our latest album. She was a friend of the agent assigned to help us find a model for the video shoot. She sat silently next to her friend, quietly sketching in her notebook behind a pair of glasses. She had volunteered to go buy us some hot coffee and croissants with the agent’s dog in tow, but what began as a sunny day ended up in a thunderous rain storm.
Soon after, Karena had been dragged in by the dog, looking like a stray cat, her hair plastered to her face, shivering to the bone. The poor girl was completely drenched, holding onto the coffees and croissants, having shielded them with her body from the pouring rain. I couldn’t help but ogle at that beautiful face, and equally gorgeous body, clad in a wet tee-shirt leaving little to the imagination. Nice mutt kept licking my hand as I watched her blush out of shyness, when she caught my eye. It got me all hot and bothered, finding myself aroused at the sight of this pretty sweet girl, who was nothing like anyone I met before.
But Karena was no airhead. She was grounded, not like other girls, as I spoke with her agent friend, with whom I got to know through her eyes. I admitted I was already smitten the first time I saw her, and it was more than just the wet tee shirt giving me a hard-on when I thought about her. She had casually joked about always getting caught in the heavy downpour, and that it was a curse that it always seemed to happen whenever she walked the dog, which meant that she had a sense of humour and a positive outlook on life.
As I got to know her better during her presence at the video shoot, I managed to find out she had a penchant for drawing, while she hung around, on set, drawing everyone there, including me. There were moments between shots, where I’d come over to where she was, making small talk with her as she sketched. She would notice my sudden interest in what or who she was drawing, and that I was being sneaky doing it, so she’d do her best to hide her drawings from my eyes.
She even tried to hide her sketch pad once, when I took her out to dinner as a friendly gesture, which I meant as a way to get to know her better. When she excused herself to go to the washroom, I couldn’t resist and decided to take a peek inside the book. What I saw literally floored me. The chick wasn’t just good, she was great. She had an eye for capturing the person in quiet, unassuming moments.
A natural beauty without the need for too much make-up, Karena had big dreams of hosting her own art show some day, and I was going to make it all come true for her. But I didn’t expect to be doing it for her, posthumously...
I eventually got shifted to a different ward, in order to recover. My body was healing nicely, according to the doctor, but who could heal my heart? As I lay there, my head propped up on the pillows so I could look out the window to the clear blue skies, I absentmindedly fingered the engagement ring that I had given her – my only memento of the woman I wanted to marry...but now, never will.
“How are you doing, buddy? I brought you those puzzle games you always seemed to enjoy...” Cody popped in to check on me.
“Just put them over there, with the rest of them” I pointed to the pile on the table next to the bouquets of flowers from well-wishers, friends and fans.
“Oh man, come on. You got to pull yourself together, Dane. She wouldn’t have wanted to see you like this...” Cody started.
“HOW THE HELL DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE WANTED, CODY? DID SHE WANT TO DIE?” I lashed out at him, wincing as I fell back into my pillows – a painful reminder of the night’s events. I slammed my good hand on the bed, frustrated at the fact that both she and Finn had to sacrifice their lives for no reason.
“Easy there...Hey, I didn’t mean it like that, man. Chill! Please! You need to get better, for yourself, for the rest of us, for your mom...” Cody hastily reminded me.
I choked on my sobs before I continued, “Did you arrange everything?” I asked weakly.
“All done, buddy. You don’t have to worry about a thing. All you have to do is show up...” Cody’s eyes were downcast.
“I’m sorry, man...I didn’t mean to yell at you. I feel so helpless right now...” I murmured, fisting the sheets angrily with my good hand.
“I know, buddy. I know...You get some rest, alright?” Cody placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. I clasped my hand over it.
“Thanks, man...” I nodded, watching as he quietly closed the door behind him.
My arm was still in a cast, when I was finally discharged from hospital after two days. Cody had brought me some fresh clothes, and helped me get dressed in them. We had two funerals to go to...
First funeral was Finn’s – a somber reunion of family and friends. His mom and dad couldn’t stop weeping, totally shocked by what had happened. His parents never really approved of Finn becoming our bodyguard, but that was what he was employed to do, and he loved every minute of it, being with us and we were all grateful.
Finn was an easy guy to be with. He only went into ballistic mode when security was either breached behind the stadium, or at the hotel we stayed at. No one could touch or approach us, unless Finn said it was okay. A former Navy Seal, he did his duty, protecting us until his very last breath.
Cody gave the eulogy, as I was too choked up to speak. We lost a friend...a brother, and it wasn’t going to be the same for a while, not for a long while. We then laid our buddy, Finn, to rest, in the cemetery reserved for military personnel, per his parents’ request.
I was reeling, and a miserable mess by the time it came to say goodbye to Karena...
We all filed into the quiet church, where our ballads were playing in the background. It was too painful to listen to, but I had to put on a brave face over it all. Karena’s sis and her family were standing on one side, while we were on the other side.
I walked over to Karena’s sister, Bex who flooded my shirt with her tears. It didn’t matter because I was weeping too. I was dying, literally dying on the inside this somber day, when I laid the love of my life into the stone-cold ground.
After that, we went to her parents’ home, where they had prepared a little brunch for all who attended, and we were all sprawled out on the expansive lawn. I found a quiet spot under a tree, overlooking the bay.
“She loved this very spot” Bex, came over and sat beside me. She held out her hand to me and I took it. Together we just sat there, in silence, reminiscing of the beautiful girl who had been a part of our lives.
But it was not over, because, a few weeks later, I did what I had promised to do. I opened the art exhibition, featuring all of Karena’s work, including all her artwork for my solo album cover, and individual sketches of all the bandmembers, family and friends.
There were some amazing pieces, including some pretty intimate ones of me. I didn’t care what people thought of those, but she was such a talented artist, and deserved recognition.
The event was lauded, and some of the pieces were sold. I had earlier discussed with her sister, for a foundation for orphaned girl teens and unwed mothers would be set up in Karena’s mom’s name, Magdalene. All the proceeds of the auction of her work would go towards that foundation, and of course, Bex would oversee all the necessary arrangements for the funds to be distributed to all homes for unwed mothers and teens.
This woman had been an unwed, unmarried teen, heavily pregnant with Karena at the time. Karena’s mom, had raised her two girls all on her own, having been raped by a male colleague, which resulted in her second pregnancy to Bex, before a rare form of cancer took her life. Karena had made it a point to celebrate her mother’s life and all she had given to them both before her untimely death.
Now, sadly, it came at a time when both of them no longer walked this earth. It took all the courage for Karena’s younger sister, Bex, Bex’s husband and their children to attend the funeral and then, the art exhibition which had opened two weeks later. I had to do it all in a rush, due to the fact that I had pressing engagements for the press release of another tour, and Bex, her family and their friends came to my rescue. Everyone, including band and crew members helped to set it all up.
We busied ourselves, hanging up all the artwork in the new studio I had initially purchased for Karena as a pre-wedding gift. Our band was leaving to go on a tour for a killer six weeks, and I wanted to just get it out there, in celebration of her life, before I could go insane from all the trauma.
Truth of the matter was, I may have seemed calm and collected on the outside, but my heart was raging like a fire storm within me as I recalled every horrible detail of hers and Finn’s deaths, and that I was the only one who survived the ordeal.
Cody and the rest of the gang had put up with my moods, especially when I would sometimes lock myself in my home studio for days on end, churning out tunes like clockwork, just to ease the pain. They knew very well not to disturb me when I was in that zone.
Cody kept reminding me that I just needed time to heal, and going on tour would be the perfect distraction. They had lined up some interviews and photo shoots to do as well, so I had to stay focused. But how can you do all that, when your girl just died not too long ago?
So, I began writing...writing like I was on fire, and my first solo endeavour, Slave, was born out of the ashes of my heart, after her death. It was Karena’s spirit that had kept me going. She had been my inspiration, my devotion. For now, this project was all I lived for.
Cody watched over me like a hawk. I knew that I had to take care of myself physically or else I wouldn’t last on any tour, let alone one that lasted for six grueling weeks on a tour bus. We were playing across the States and Canada, with plans for a world tour next year.
It was extremely ambitious, but both Madge and Cody knew what they were doing, and we trusted them both to guide us through it. Being the lead singer as well as the guitarist, I had to keep my vocal chords in check and warmed up all the time, so I decided to lay low each time, steering away from all those late-night shenanigans, while my bandmates would party it up all night.
Sure, I hung around, for a drink or two, until some girls had tried to sidle up next to me, and all hell would break loose, with them trying to chase me around the place, while I tried to get away from them.
Back in the recesses of my mind, I could sense Karena’s presence hovering beside me, having a giggle and shaking her head. I tried to make up every excuse I could just to leave the premises and go back to the hotel, under watchful eye of my two most trusted friends who happened to be our other two bodyguards, Jaden and Joshua.
But sometimes, I would just let things slide, get drunk from all the heartache and loneliness, finding myself in bed, pumping out my frustrations through sex while wrapped in-between the legs of a girl whose name I never even knew.
This was the kind of lifestyle I had signed myself up for, even before Karena had stumbled into my life. It could have been literally all about the sex, the drugs and of course, rock n’ roll, but for party animals, we were pretty laid back. When she came, everything had changed. My perception of my whole life had changed.
And here I was, ready to make that change permanent, get married and settle into a life as one half of a perfect couple. On some nights, I’d wake up alone in a hotel room crying, or I would wind up in front of the desk, with my guitar in hand, and a music sheet in front of me, just writing down what I was feeling at the moment.
I would keep doing that, well into the early morning, when it came time for us to leave, and get to the next destination. I’d sleep it off in the tour bus, while the guys checked out my work, placing additional annotations and chords where it was necessary. Then we’d do a little launch of the new songs, inserting one or two during the concert, as a plug for the new album.
And now, two years later, I was at an impasse. I felt as if my whole life was just rambling on and on, with work in the studio for the new band album, a host of interviews, photo shoots and eventually another tour. I felt as if I needed to slow down, and take stock of my life before I lost it.
I poured out my feelings to Cody. He was the only one I could really confide in, apart from Knox, Jarod, Slade and Madge, our manager. The guys in the crew were all my friends but I didn’t feel comfortable discussing something like this with them.
The first solo album had done really well, in part thanks to my girl, Karena. She had contributed tremendously with the artwork I had initially commissioned her for, way before her death.
Her interpretations of the music were reflected on the cover and in the album sleeves. I had opted for a limited-edition vinyl pressing, cd format, and a digital download. It was my tribute to Karena, her life, her works and everything she stood for.
But it was also for me, for closure, or so I thought...