Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
That summer between sophomore and junior year, Donna Pierceman called three times seeking something new for her gallery for that September. The theme—Family History—gave Brendon no inspiration despite repeated suggestions first from his mom, then from Aunt Laurel. They certainly thought this new theme was important.
“Family—our family—is different from others. You should be proud of it, to have something representing us on display.”
That repeatedly came from his mom all summer long because she’d gotten a bird in her ear and now believed Brendon somehow suffered from teenage embarrassment, which he wasn’t, at least not completely, that was lending him to cringe at the gallery theme. But the truth would have shocked and frustrated his mom worse because Casey-fever had taken hold and the only painting he sketched out time and time again was a birthday present for Casey’s seventeenth.
This one had to be the best of Brendon’s paintings. Something to make Casey sigh and smile dreamily. Something to make their next kiss elevated to heaven, to entwine them more powerfully than any other two people in the world, living or dead.
Yes, he knew he fretted that bone to its nub and built the gift up into a mountain of anxieties and hormones, but he couldn’t help this need. And that meant, come September, for the first time in years he had nothing to give to The Bayscape. That moment would end up growing larger, producing worse anxieties in a few years, but that autumn Donna Pierceman’s calls seemed distant and unimportant.
On the other hand, the painting, with its fire and road and roaring car, took close to eighty hours to complete and that was after months of studying and sketches and trial runs.
But in the end, after that breathless summer, between midnight picnics between the trees at the end of Grant Lorry’s Road where they only ever brought a blanket, and weekend evening walks to the wharf to eat crab legs and Old Bay, and lazy morning porch games involving too many cuss words, Brendon finally finished.
Thinking about how badly Casey wanted freedom to roam, Brendon called it The Getaway Car. Casey had another idea. Wanting to focus on the sense of freedom he felt the moment he sat in the driver’s seat, rather than the need for escape. Looking ahead, rather than behind. He dubbed it Scent of Burning Rubber.
They both just took to calling it the Le Mans painting though.
Next Chapter Coming June 2nd!