Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
The day after Valentine’s Day, Taylor L. overdosed at his parents’ house. Brendon found out three days later while in Art class with Mrs. Yue, a woman who was better than Mr. Reading since she actually seemed to care, though she had a tendency to gush about everyone’s work, which made her effusive praise somewhat unbelievable. Not at all like the well-won appreciation Mr. Wexlar had given Brendon’s work in middle school.
It’d been whispered by two girls in the back, one with straight black hair and wide eyes, the other with curls she kept tamed with coconut oil and a bright yellow ribbon.
“He’d always been at the races, up until he got busted by his dad.”
For a brief moment, Brendon thought they were referring to Casey. He paused, hand hovering over the lump of clay he’d been shaping into leaves.
“Oh, I don’t think he ever stopped going. He was just more careful when he raced. Did a lot of dealing though. My brother bought from him a few times.”
“You know what did him in? My brother didn’t know.”
“Heard he’d ODed.”
“Damn. He’d been a cutie too.”
“Heh, but he’d not have gone for you. Heard he was into the boys, if you know what I mean.”
A sweat broke out over Brendon’s neck. Like he’d suddenly got a chill that sucked all the heat and left him dripping ice out his pores.
The girls broke off as Mrs. Yue came meandering through the tables, her effusive praise sprinkled here and there and everywhere.
Brendon texted Casey directly after class, who responded with a: “Was Taylor L Yeah OD.” Then a few minutes later: “Probs.” But when Brendon tried to coax more, Casey remained strangely silent.
Casey didn’t go to the funeral, that much Brendon knew, because Casey drove the hour that early Saturday morning to drag Brendon from bed and go for a drive. Hit the steering wheel with his palms, cursed a little too loudly, drove a little too fast. But he never did say exactly what ate at his insides, never specified what Taylor L. might have meant to him, whether it was something on one end of the spectrum—hands where they didn’t belong when Casey was too young to say much to—or something on the other—where the pain might stem from the heart and not the body.
And Brendon cursed himself profusely for hoping that it’d been the first end of the spectrum that Casey had suffered through and not the heartbreak.
Next Chapter Coming November 17th