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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
Third wheels, to Casey at least, had always meant a limping car, a blowout during a NASCAR race. “Drag,” he’d say. “Drag that swings you all about, like some ragdoll who shouldn’t have been on the track.” Brendon always got the impression Casey was quoting someone.
Third wheels, to Brendon, began to a look a little like himself.
Casey had this way, this all-or-nothing desperation about him. A need for speed. A crash course. And where Brendon had been that canvas Casey could tug about, Robbie was something new, something different. Someone who pushed back.
There came a few years of ping-balling, Casey’s attention caught and lost like a firefly flash as he bounced back and forth between what he wanted and what he couldn’t have.
While Brendon sketched in silent appraisal of angles and light and possibility, a neon-green ninja turtle pencil cutting sharp lines across his sketchbook to capture the dilapidated state of the Le Mans Casey sat in, Robbie put hands back on his hips and laughed.
“It’s a car, like the others. What’s so special about it?”
Casey popped his head out of the driver’s side, one hand on the crumbling leather around the wheel, the other on the glass-empty window edge. “It’s a Le Mans!” As if that should be explanation enough. His eyes wild and wide.
“It’s a broken car,” corrected Robbie.
Brendon’s pencil hesitated.
“It’s one of the most iconic cars in existence. A creation of perfection!”
“And it’s a rusted pile of trash now.”
They shot barbs back and forth until Casey yelled at Robbie to find his own car and they’d race. Robbie crawled into the driver’s seat of a truck—a useless, ugly ‘80s F150 according to Casey—and the two of them pretended to race down a straightaway
By the time Robbie declared he was pulling off the road to grab a milkshake from the Cow’s Udder shack and promptly derailed Casey’s race, Brendon had finished his sketch. It was a mishmash of a thing. Wrong. Tortured even. Some conglomeration of a sleek Le Mans in its heyday and the twisted, dilapidated state it was in today. A twist between Casey’s vision and Robbie’s.
That sketch lay for a long time. Never forgotten, but not quite understood. A quandary Brendon couldn’t explain and struggled to move beyond every time Casey ping-balled back after a fight with Robbie.