Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes
They hid their bikes behind some trees and disguised them with old pine needles, though any adult who passed rolled their eyes at the meager attempt at subterfuge. Casey led them through the forest, sneakers balancing on exposed roots to avoid the lingering mud.
“It’s this graveyard. There’s a Le Mans, dead as a hooker and about as sexy too.”
“What do you know about hookers?” asked Robbie.
Casey just snorted and beckoned them faster.
Brendon had introduced them one day at the park, Casey in his cleats and shin guards, Robbie in his button-down and gelled hair. Like oil and water he’d thought of them, but they hadn’t gotten that memo and stuck together like they’d been born under a Gemini sky, Castor and Pollux.
They reached a clearing, though it was more a pit, old gravel, a clay embankment and discarded casings poking between spits of crabgrass and wild onion. A graveyard Casey called it and a graveyard it was, for rusted, gutted metal bearers of tetanus sat on unfashionable rims and dry rotted rubber all about. Sixteen cars, if they could be called cars at this point, sat scattered about, like a wood-claimed junkyard. One had a bush bursting out its trunk. Another had a birch sapling poking from its sunroof. A third sat on its side, a thick oak forcing it up, up and away.
“This is the worst kind of creepy,” said Robbie, his hands on his hips and his expression one of disgust. “I thought it’d be a real graveyard.”
“Haunted headstones,” said Casey with a scoff. Then he was off, darting around the metal buckets. “The Le Mans is this way!”
Robbie exchanged a long-suffering look with Brendon, then they followed at a slower pace, Robbie pointing out the rustling where lizards darted down from warm metal hoods. Brendon paused and gazed into the branches of a gum tree, tiny gumballs swaying in the breeze like prickly death balls.
“Did you hear Casey’s dad had an accident?” asked Robbie.
“Is he okay?”
Robbie’s expression turned pained. “Yeah.”
“Yeah,” repeated Robbie, this time in a voice barely there. “Dad says Casey would have been better off.”
“Better off if what?”
Robbie shrugged. “Don’t know. Told me to mind my own business when I asked. And then he got all quiet talking to Mom. Didn’t your parents talk about it?”
If they had, which Brendon doubted, they’d done it where Brendon couldn’t hear. “No.”
“You think Casey’s going to make us come here a lot?” And Robbie looked around distastefully.
Casey called to them, his voice tight with excitement and attitude, mocking them for their slowness. They ducked around a battered truck that had once been navy blue to see Casey clambering over a chassis, brushing off last year’s dead leaves and picking out clumps of moss where a dent had formed a basin rife for puddles.
He hopped down and spread his arms wide in a glory position. “Can you imagine what this looked like back in the day?”
“What day?” muttered Robbie with a skeptical expression.
“What’d it look like?” asked Brendon, already lifting his sketchbook.
Casey sighed wistfully, nostalgia for a time before he’d been born granting him an ethereal aura. “This Le Mans has been given a place of honor among the dead.” And he stroked the rust like he could turn it to gold with a poor man’s fingers alone.