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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

LXXI: Present

Tell me about this Casey. As if Casey could be expressed in simple words.

Brendon poured them both another round of the old whiskey. Too much probably, but Evelyn Yert remained on the mind. Again, too much so. He swallowed, gaze darting about the room, catching on his sketches, wondered whether he should tear them all down, start fresh, blank walls, clean slate.

“Brendon?” Orion’s voice so soft, a gentle, coaxing sound from a man who could be so hard and unyielding.

“You have a high school love? Not a crush or a fling, but an actual love affair.”

Orion studied Brendon closely. “The kind where you find yourself crying in the shower and pretend it’s just the water?”

Brendon opened his hands in an approximation of a shrug. For him it hadn’t been the shower; it’d been his easel over at Llama Park, just out of sight of the lakeside hiking trail, where a little gurgling brook that fed into the lake happily ignored the angry paint smears and harsh words.

“It’s like you fall in love with a person one day and wake up the next to discover that that person never actually existed at all.”

Orion nodded slowly. “Heartbreak hits even the coldest of us.”

“Right. I’m not saying I’m somehow different.” Brendon stood abruptly, paced the small living room, knowing that Orion stared but unable to stop himself from moving, needing the action, the fingers not holding his glass twitching with the desire to hold a paintbrush. “Things just look different when you’re younger.”

“Emotions are heightened,” began Orion.

“No, not that. Well, yes, you’re right, but that’s not what I’m referring to.” It’s all about perspective. “You see people one way when seeing things through a child’s eyes.”

“And then you grow up to realize your parents’ flaws or grow away from friends.”

“He was…”

Orion remained quiet, unmoving in the armchair that backed against the far wall. Along the wall beyond his head there were sketches of crabs, of cattails, of many, many lined boat drawings because Brendon had been practicing ripples, ripples and more ripples.

“He was a poor boy who grew up in a crappy home,” murmured Brendon. “That painting I made him…”

“The…Le Mans?” coaxed Orion.

Brendon nodded mutely.

In the silence, Orion leaned forward and deliberately placed his glass on the sketchbook-strewn coffee table. Then he stood and meandered over next to Brendon. But he faced away, toward the wall, toward all the sketches and watercolors and colored pencil designs. “You both thought it was a dream that he’d had? That’s what you said before.”

“I don’t know,” said Brendon, then he downed the rest of his whiskey, pressed the glass against his brow for just a moment and then, making a snap decision, he turned toward his bedroom doorway. “You want to see what I thought of him?”

He strode through the doorway, toward the end of the bed, then spun abruptly. Orion followed at a sedate pace, unhurried but not hesitant.

Brendon nodded to the painting on the wall. The only painting on the wall. Casey’s hair aglow, his skin shining in the sunlight, his eyes dancing with some inside joke between the two of them, like the world would never know their secrets.

Yes, Brendon had toned down the bitterness in Casey’s eyes. Had smoothed out the wrinkles where a sneer might have formed. Had envisioned Casey in a more perfect state, the Casey that had never truly existed, not in the way Brendon thought.

It’s all about perspective.

This had been his perspective. Unrealistic, but beautiful while it’d lasted.

“That’s Casey.”


Next Chapter Coming July 21st