Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
A different sort of heat hit Castlebrock the summer after high school graduation. Heat index souring, air conditioning units on the fritz, the elderly suffering from heat stroke, the young suffering from too many drunken-fueled car accidents.
Casey started drifting back down more often, sleeping at his father’s house now that his stepmom had decided to give the man another chance at redemption. His father had gotten a different job, taking him away from the dour memories at the electrical company where he’d been relegated to a gopher or a “charity case” as he called it.
The two of them would swim in the bay, tugging board shorts down under the pier where no one could see. They would drive the same neighborhood they’d used to bike, taking things fast, then faster. They would talk about the future, but only in an amorphous way, like it didn’t quite exist yet, like it wouldn’t quite exist until September, when school began in earnest…but without them.
The baggies disappeared from Casey’s Mustang. The strange stops during their drives faded away. Taylor L. became a distant memory, one that didn’t get a 5k Walk/Run named after him like Dylan had. Brendon suspected it was the overdosing—the Barry family not wanting to take on any more scrutiny than the local journalists had delivered at the time of death.
That summer—that June, that July, that August—turned idyllic. Brendon painted Casey at the shore, where the sand boasted so many bugs that Casey ended up drenching himself to rid the ants from his shorts. He painted Casey at the wharf, early, before the patrons of the restaurants were staring out the upstairs windows. He painted Casey going down Grant’s Lorry Road and sitting on fenceposts outside of Castlebrock where the farmland rolled and roiled.
That September, as life crept up and jobs loomed and Brendon began to wonder if he’d lost his chance at making something of his art, it was Casey who pushed again to make that phone call to Donna Pierceman.
Oh, Brendon was sure his mother and Aunt Laurel had said something too. Maybe even his dad. But who listened to parental figures at seventeen?
“Call her,” insisted Casey. “Call her and tell her life’s been crazy. Tell her you want to come in with some new pieces to see if she wants to show any of them. Whatever you do, Bren, you do not apologize. You’ve got nothing to be sorry for. Life happens.”
Brendon called Donna Pierceman on September 2nd.
On September 4th, Casey’s house burnt down.
Next Chapter Coming December 1st