Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
“The plans” Casey’s father had spoken of became apparent on Casey’s fifteenth birthday, for a ragged Mustang—pastel yellow—sat parked over the dandelions peeking up through the cracks in the driveway when Brendon stopped by.
“Not quite running,” was how Casey described it when Brendon asked, “but Dad’s got a new engine block to go in it and we’re going to piece that bitch back together…together.”
A light sparkled in Casey’s eyes. And he leaned forward, his breath smelling of barbeque sauce from the chicken they munched on, leftovers from the weekend with all the crunch gone to mush around the grilled edges.
“Sounds like a lot of work.”
“Less than one of your paintings, I assure you, but art, Bren, in its own way.”
“When do you think you’ll get it running?”
“Sixteenth or bust, baby. Going to have my own wheels sophmore year.” A wolfish grin flashed across Casey’s face, like all the trouble they could get into churned the wheels already.
“Your dad just bailed you out of jail because of you being at a drag race and now he’s given you a car…”
Casey laughed out loud. “Irony! All my English teachers would be proud.” Then he sobered. “But it’s not running. It’s dead in the drive right now. Needs a lot of TLC, which means I’m to be hanging around here most of the year as we get it ready. More time I spend with Dad, sooner the car’s ready.”
“Ah. That’s manipulative.”
“Man, I don’t even care. I’m getting a car, Bren. Roads open and wide and Ol’ North Main is going to know my name.”
They worked that Mustang weekly, Casey finding a newfound motivation that usurped drunken outings, races, and even Taylor L. He helped his father clear their garage of oil cans, old brake pads, electrical wires, broken yard tools, and even the mini battery-run cars Becky and Casey had ridden in their preschool years. Brendon would help, despite the nagging commentary occassionally muttered by Casey’s father about “all them kind is good for,” because the thought of freedom—open roads and endless choices—was as contagious as a cold and put just as much pressure on his mind.
Through the winter, Casey’s visits diminished from their normal frequency, replaced with weekend binging on mechanical alterations. He’d come to school with fingers smudged darker than Brendon’s and stories of his father’s fits.
“I built a tower from his empties last week and he pushed me into it saying I was a fucking bowling ball, wrecking everything in my path. All cause I stripped a stupid bolt.”
“Wrong part came in and Dad tried to rig it anyway. Cut his hand and wrapped it in tape, then made me walk the mile to the store and carry him back another case. Didn’t get a lick done.”
“Football was interuppted by a news bulletin and Dad threw a ratchet. Thing hit the television and now he doesn’t have his games in the garage. Was actually nice because he’d set me to task and disappear inside for forever at a time so I could work in peace.”
And one day, and one day only…
“He says the worst things about you when you’re not around, Brendon. I hate him.”
Brendon didn’t ask him to elucidate because he already knew the sorts of things meant.
Next Chapter Coming Mar 24th!