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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
Most of Brendon’s early work depicted dinosaurs. Stick-legs and fat heads with lolling eyes and tongues sometimes longer than the creature’s body. When eight, during a spring break from elementary school, Casey came over. Still young enough to not know the difference between a Camaro and a Firebird, yet old enough to mimic the revving of the engine and boasting a nose that could identify brands of beer by scent alone, Casey came with uncut hair and khaki shorts to spread himself across Brendon’s bed, sweaty skin an irrelevance in those short-lived days.
“Why do you have a T-Rex on your ceiling?”
“It’s a giganotosaurus.”
“What’s the difference?”
Brendon rolled his eyes with casual affront. “Everything.”
But Casey wasn’t interested in those differences. In fact, Casey wasn’t interested in anything but the bin of knock-off metal cars that had an occasional marker tucked within.
“You have a fire truck! And this car… My dad says those ’83 ‘vette motors are crap to work on, like picking around at bones and hoping for muscle to grow.” He tossed the shiny black car over his shoulder dismissively.
Brendon didn’t know what that meant, but he didn’t want Casey to know that. So cars became the rule of conversation. They’d play racing, shoving cars across the shaggy carpet that their little wheels could not withstand. They’d lay tracks out of old blocks and mountains out of clothes to drive straight up, switchbacks a thing of the nonsensical adult world and not logical child-thinking. The dinosaurs came out, here…and there. In an apocalyptic land where Mad Max roamed or in an epic superhero time travel episode.
The dinosaur drawings on Brendon’s wall slowly swapped out for intricately detailed cars that Casey would critique in loving detail, his eyes alight and his words a tumble. At the time, Brendon just enjoyed the warmth that spawned from the appreciation of his art.
Eight years later, Casey first kissed Brendon in the front seat of a cheap, run-ragged Mustang with the engine purring and an indie rock band Casey loved playing from the small speaker of his iPod. No dinosaurs to speak of, unless one counted the car.