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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

LXII: Present

They walked the downtown streets. Brendon waited patiently—mostly patiently—while Orion peeked into shop windows and made inane, yet safe comments on their contents.

“What’s this one then? A gallery. ‘Local Artisans.’ A lot of crabs, I see. Marylanders seem to like their crabs. Always blue ones.”

“You’d rather dead ones?”

At the caustic tone, Orion cast him a glance, but didn’t engage with a response. “And here we’ve got herbal remedies for the soul and spirit,” read Orion off one of the plaques in the next window.

He put the last of his ice cream into his mouth and tossed the cup into the trashcan that sat at the base of the banner pole behind them. Then took his painting from Brendon with a nod of thanks.

“Rosemary for remembrance and yarrow root for protection. Should I buy you a bundle of dried herbs to hang in your studio?”

“I’d rather a coffee.”

“In this heat?”

Brendon lifted his gaze heavenward for a moment. “Why are you here?”

“I’m here because you’re here. Since you don’t seem to be the malicious troublemaker you think I’ve profiled you as, I need your customer records to discover the whole of what’s going on, to see how you do what you do and maybe even why. Given the courts would laugh in my face were I to bring my suspicions to them, I need you to let me know who else might have been affected.”

“And if I tell you no? That I’m done with this farce?”

Orion smiled and nodded to the side where the sidewalk flattened at the entrance of a minuscule parking lot. “I’m just here. And I guess I could attempt to break into your studio and your apartment, but that seems like a whole lot of hassle for little to gain. Since you and I both know what your paintings are capable of.”

Brendon turned away despite not being able to see Orion’s eyes through the sunglasses.

“You have my business card.” Orion lifted the sunglasses off his eyes and for just a moment; that blue gaze felt like it could read Brendon’s mind. “Call me when you find out who else has died.” Then he turned and crossed the spit of grass into the lot.


Next Chapter Coming Apr 7th!