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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

XXVI: Present

They started locally, which wasn’t difficult as many of Brendon’s original sales had come from studio exhibitions. He sat in Orion’s passenger seat, conscious that the BMW cost a great deal more than Brendon tended to make in an average year. The leather seats stuck to his arms despite the air conditioning and Orion had paused the audio book he’d been listening to out of politeness sake.

“Thriller?” asked Brendon, randomly running a finger along his side of the center console.


“That sounds like you,” murmured Brendon.

Orion laughed. A quiet sound, but deep, deep in his chest, a rumbling that Brendon felt all the way to his bones. He clutched at the sketchbook in his lap. Orion had stared at the crumpled spiral-bound and graphite-smudged book, but hadn’t said a word.

“Am I so easy to read?” asked Orion.

“No,” murmured Brendon. “But when things fit, they fit.”

“And how does that…fit…with me?”

Brendon shrugged, then thinking he should say more, qualified, “It’s just a feeling, a sense, you know? Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve, but everyone gives hints to their perspectives if you pay attention.”

“And you pay attention.”

“I try.”

“What do you see in me?”

A dream from last night came rushing back. Moonlit water about his bed. Orion’s suit hung on a star. Paint dripping down the headboard, pooling by Brendon’s head as he stared up into Orion’s eyes. Their bodies pressed close, but not straining. Their nakedness accentuated, but not entirely sexual. And Orion whispering those words Brendon couldn’t understand.

He swallowed hard and focused out the window at the young corn and roiling soybeans. “I’m still debating that.”

“Let me know what you end up deciding. I’d be keen to know.” After a moment of silence, likely when it became obvious Brendon didn’t intend on carrying the conversation, Orion launched into a story about his first few meetings with Wendy Arpsol, sharing his enjoyment of her astuteness, her ability to acknowledge that there was more to the mundane world than ever met the eye.

Brendon listened with a fraction of his attention and only realized his inattentiveness when they pulled into Jennifer Craugh’s driveway.

“I’m not sure I caught that last part,” he said by way of apology.

The car turned off, the rumbling fading as they unhooked their seat-belts. Orion gave another of those deep-rooted laughs and this time Brendon saw the crinkling around those eyes, that calculation still there, but decidedly friendly.

“It doesn’t matter. Merely passing the time, allowing you to drift away. You seem the type.” He paused and leaned forward just a hair. “I got a feeling, a sense. Seems I was right.”


Next Chapter!