Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
Robbie took to girls the way Casey took to cars.
His first girlfriend came at the end of seventh grade. His first real girlfriend at least. Before that there’d been giggles and kissed cheeks and hugs near the swings. But Tori Kel Anderson transcended elementary innocence. Robbie called her weekly and texted her daily. Would shrug off chances to go shoot paintballs or arosoft bullets in the forest in favor of a date at the park that might end in a chaste kiss from glossy lips.
Casey took Tori Kel badly.
At school he’d taunt her, though never where Robbie could hear. Sour words and bitterness cut into every interaction Casey had, his insults starting sexist, turning racist and ending only when Robbie took a fist and landed a hit directly on Casey’s jaw.
The fight afterwards might have been cathartic for some, but stood as the snapping of what had once been their friendship. They’d been like rubber bands before, pinging on one another, stretching away, bouncing back. Always with Brendon in the middle, relegated towards the sides when the goings were good.
Tori Kel, for the sin of doing nothing but having a pretty smile and a sweet disposition, became the inadvertent cause of three things.
One, causing Robbie to break a knuckle on Casey’s face. Two, altering Casey’s desires into something more akin to hate. And three, giving Brendon exactly what he wanted.
Tori Kel, on the other hand, was called a slut at the end of seventh grade despite having never touched herself or anyone else. Rumors eddied about the lunch room and bubbled up at lockers before being hushed in classrooms. About Tori Kel having a widely-used vagina that could fit a whale. About her weave being dipped in chicken fat and her attempting to gold dig by sucking Robbie’s dick.
She kept her chin and her grades up and her hand in Robbie’s. Ended up being in the seventeen percent of high school graduates who went on to university. Nabbed a medical degree and came back as an obstetrician, married a man named Doug Lesier, divorced said man, then finally settled with a quiet IT tech named Anthony Quaile. They took weekend trips out on the bay in a small sailboat named Binary Baby and adopted a couple of dobermans and a single tabby.
Brendon knew all that because he sold Tori Kel a painting of said cat when the poor thing got run over by a guy racing down their street. A guy with a blue Mustang. A guy with a wild grin. A guy who could hold a grudge for ten years.