Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
Brendon’s first true art lesson came from Aunt Laurel, pink and purple threads inside her braids and a tattoo of a unicorn along her forearm, its horn twirling about her middle finger. Even at nine, Brendon knew the significance of that particular finger and he told Casey later in a fit of uncontrollable giggles. Casey made a decision right then, that he too would have tattoos, but around his middle finger would roam a dust cloud, blown up by a strong set of wheels and an impossibly long dirt road.
“I’ll hold it up! Like this! And this!” But he didn’t quite say to whom.
They jumped about Brendon’s room, atop his bed, doing somersaults into scattered toys until Brendon’s mom called for them to calm down or go outside. Outside it was, into the wilds of overgrown weeds that hid the ditches with black-eyed Susans and Queen Anne’s lace, into unsealed streets where cracks made their bikes bounce and rusted chains clicked in protest every few revolutions.
The humidity soared, but the wind whipped too fast for them to care.
They crash-landed at the dead-end of Grant’s Lorry Rd, where beer cans and red solo cups lay like treasures just under the trees. There Casey prattled on about tearing back down Lorry Road, where the straightaway would give him the speed before the slight bump.
“We’d fly across that thing! Bellies tickling.”
Brendon listened with one ear and a cocked head, but his attention remained on the trash high schoolers had left behind in their drunken haze. He picked at a bit of cloth, lacy pink around its navy edges. Then crinkled his nose when he realized what he held.
Casey came to investigate. “She lost her briefs. Dad says anyone who can’t keep a hold of her briefs is an easy cow and deserves a right good tipping.”
“I don’t know.” Casey thought hard, then answered. “Probably mooing at her. Dad said something about a guy mooing a girl where he works once.”
Brendon nodded like that made all the sense in the world, and in his mind there came a woman who looked like his Aunt Laurel, pink and purple threads in her dark braids, a man in the vague shape of Casey’s dad mooing at her. The image made him laugh.
Later, he’d draw a picture of the story, but didn’t really understand the hurt look in his aunt’s eyes. After all, he’d listened to her, hadn’t he? He’d shown her the places he’d pressed harder to make a color darker and lighter to make a color paler. But though she smiled and told him he’d done a good job, the hurt didn’t go away.