Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
Between Wild Woods Street and Grazer Road lay a bit of tarmac, crumbling at its sides, that stretched into a hill that waxed from a forty-five degree angle to one just over sixty. All the kids called it The Big Hill since it was a big hill.
The Big Hill was where Tony Surlay practiced skate-boarding tricks and ended up tumbling one autumn, landing at the bottom with a broken arm. The Big Hill was the locale for impromptu summer bike-races for all the neighborhood kids. The Big Hill was where Robbie cracked his forehead open when his tire caught in the chasm of an crack along the edge of the road.
Brendon tore his shirt off that day—primary red with the black lettering of a local rec sports team—and held it to Robbie’s face while Casey ran to Mr. Don’s door and banged and banged as if he hadn’t just shouted obscenities at Robbie, as if he hadn’t cut his rusted bike into Robbie’s brand new six-speed with black paint and green pinstripes and shiny chains and working hand brakes.
Even after they climbed into Mr. Don’s dirty truck and rode to Robbie’s house, Casey remained quiet, a combination of shame and satisfaction in his countenance. Robbie claimed an accident and Brendon hadn’t been snitch enough to tell, but he’d stared at Casey, willing him to admit the part he’d played.
Casey never did.
That should have been enough to warn Brendon, but he’d been thirteen. Change and growth and becoming an adult had felt like a lifetime away, time enough to do all those things and become something more. He’d thought adulthood would be separate, rather than merely an extension of the children they’d started as.