Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
Robbie wasn’t at his house, his mother giving an apologetic moue while glancing at Casey’s Mustang with a hint of disapproval. Might have been disapproval for the roaring it’d done going up the hill or might have been the fact it looked cheap in comparison to the metallic expensives sitting in the garages of this opulent zone of Castlebrock.
“He went up to Dylan’s house,” she said.
“Dylan Westerman?” asked Casey, his jaw stiffening.
“Yes. I’m not sure if they’re still there though.”
Casey spun away before Mrs. Frey could finish and was hopping down the concrete steps and crossing through the grass and mulch and gardenias while Brendon rushed a “Thank you.”
Inside the Mustang, Brendon picked the Le Mans painting back up to hold in his lap. The back seat sat laden with grocery bags bursting at the seams with Casey’s clothes. His book bag, so full it bloated, lay haphazardly on top of the mountain. But Brendon’s painting had been in the front passenger seat in a place of honor, the Le Mans not weighed down by reality, by hatred of a father to be left behind.
They pulled into Dylan’s canted driveway, the hedges trimmed to boxes, the mulch a gleaming red, the three-car garage door sitting open with both Dylan’s Audi and Robbie’s BMW in the far spots while the bay right in front of them stood starkly empty but for a few gym machines and mats.
“Robbie!” Casey shouted even before he closed the car door, before the slam rattled the Mustang, made it vibrate the painting as Brendon balanced it on the seat. “Robbie fucking Frey!”
“The whole neighborhood will hear you,” warned Brendon, trotting behind, his stomach doing flips.
“Let them,” Casey all but snarled and in that moment Brendon was just happy it wasn’t directed toward him.
Casey pounded on the front door, then became impatient and walked right into the garage and up to the door there. Brendon trailed, flinching at every pound of Casey’s fist. Then Casey let out an exasperated noise—reminded Brendon of a bull’s harrumph, angry over its territory being trespassed—and yanked open the door.
Dylan Westerman stood on the other side, looking as if he’d just arrived, his face flushed, his brows drawn, one earbud in his ear and the other hanging limply down his chest. He’d leaned out over the years, the extra weight he’d carried in middle school escaping during home gym sessions and lacrosse practice.
“What the hell, Casey? What do you want?”
“Is Robbie here?” And Casey made as if to barge through the doorway.
Dylan blocked his path—at the time, Brendon had thought of Dylan’s presence as bulky, as huge and filling that doorway with presence, though he’d been nothing more than a teen desperate to grow up. Like all of them had been, in one way or another.
“You can’t come in.” Dylan’s eyes flicked to Brendon. “Neither of you. Go play racecar with your shitty car before you leave an oil puddle in our driveway.” And he made to close the door.
Casey grabbed it, grunting at the extra weight, but it was a fresh weight-lifting lacrosse player verses a long-term year-round soccer player and when Casey got his foot in the doorway, thigh braced against the frame, there was zero chance in hell that Dylan was getting that door closed again.
“Fuck! What are you doing?”
“I want to talk to Robbie, that dickwad. Robbie! Come out here!”
In the ensuing scuffle, the door smashed open and Dylan marched out into the garage bay in a fit of piqued fury that turned into showboating and chest-thumping. A very real danger settled over the three of them, with Casey falling back yet never quite looking as if he was giving ground, while Dylan shouted and cursed and jerked his chin forward in feints.
Later Brendon would come to realize that he’d been looking at the difference between those who threatened violence and those who enacted it. Those who stopped at intimidation, and those who knew the feel of fists and pipes and serpentine belts and had learned to strike back.
As Casey’s fist curled and his body stiffened in anticipation, as Dylan ordered Casey out of his home, as Brendon stepped forward, unsure whether he should grab Casey or step between them, Robbie appeared at the garage doorway.
“Hey Brendon. Casey? What’s going on?”
Next Chapter Coming August 25th