Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
For Casey’s tenth birthday, October 17th, a day that could be as cold as ice or hot as hell and rather never wavered in between for some reason, his parents threw him a little party out in their backyard. Course it was cold, jeans and long sleeves and snug jackets as they played in rainbow leaves and threw spiky gumballs at one another in an estimation of a fair fight.
Crickets the size of their fingers leapt ten feet, escaping eager little boy hands. Robbie had the best luck, repurposing a plastic party cup into a temporary terrarium. They beat to death a piñata and ate themselves sick with candy and ice cream cake. Casey invented racing games and used birthday boy powers to enforce his rules while his father laughed on and Becks reluctantly took photos for the family at their mother’s request.
“Do I have to? Casey’s such a turd.”
“Don’t say that about your brother.”
“She’s a bigger turd! Elephant sized!”
They roughed each other up on the trampoline and wound arms about each other and gave cheeses and bunny ears when Becks came around with the camera. The smell of rubber, the smoke from the fire pit, the wafting of pepperoni all under the undressing trees, leaves fluttering in the gentle breeze to come and land on their shoes and socks.
Casey’s mom emailed those photos a few weeks later.
Presents consisted of video games and gift cards and tickets to a big drag race up the road (from Casey’s father of course). Brendon didn’t remember what he’d picked out from the store, but he remembered the painting he’d used as his card. A raptor, purplish-gray with orange and green feathers and talons bronze and eyes of coal. On the back he’d painted, To Casey, Happy Birthday (the ‘Y’ was squished in to fit) and From Brendon, Your Best Friend. Because best friends were different than normal friends and there was a need to distinguish them.
The next time he went over to Casey’s house, he noticed a new photo propped on the white shelves in the kitchen. Robbie, Casey and Brendon with arms wrapped about one another and gap-toothed, real smiles on their faces. Behind the new frame sat the small painted raptor canvas, those coal eyes looking out over their heads.