Arthur once saw a therapist who diagnosed him with autism. A child psychologist had told his parents this when he was a kid, but his parents ignored the diagnosis. Arthur grew into a man who talked too much, who struggled to wear matching socks, who could never listen and who was obnoxious in social situations. When Arthur was told for the second time that he was autistic, he was bothered by the diagnosis. How could he be autistic? Only annoying and out of control people were autistic. Could that be him? Arthur was gradually becoming a successful writer. He was almost paying all his expenses through writing. He had to work a part-time teaching job but he was managing to support himself through literature. People with autism still lived with their parents at his age. He had his own apartment and his future looked good. Autism didn’t make any sense in Arthur’s mind.
Amy would sometimes become annoyed by Arthur’s high energy. While they were working on editing Arthur’s book of essays, The Fantastic Life Of A Disappearing Man, Amy would continually have to tell Arthur to shut up and quiet down. She would become angered at him in the same way a person would feel angered by an out of control toddler. Sometimes she yelled at him, telling him what an idiot he was. Amy felt bad about these explosions of frustration but she couldn’t seem to stop it. Maybe the pressures of being in love with another man were getting to her. Arthur was always understanding of Amy’s annoyance with him. When she spit in his face in an explosion of rage, Arthur wiped away the spit from his face and told Amy that he was going to go sit in the other room for a little and let her simmer down. Arthur was always adoring and compassionate when Amy would lash out at him and this made her appreciate him more. She didn’t have to feel as bad about her terrible behavior towards Arthur because he accepted it. He loved Amy.
It wasn’t lost on Amy that she was acting mean and critical towards Arthur in a similar way Zev was with her. She was becoming more like Zev in her relationship with Arthur. Annoyed, agitated and bothered. But Amy loved being with Arthur. She loved the attention that Arthur showed her. She loved how grateful Arthur was to have sex with her and be in her company. She felt worshipped and this turned her on. It made her feel better about herself. Zev never worshipped her. Maybe in the beginning of their relationship but not anymore. Zev took advantage of her now and Amy felt that Zev was lucky to be getting her some of the time. This is how Amy rationalized having an affair with Arthur. Zev was lucky to be getting what he was getting from her and as a result she could do whatever she wanted with the rest of her time. It was the personal philosophy of a lunatic.
Amy wanted to be with Arthur more and more. She thought about him all the time and the amount she texted with him increased. They were meeting a few times a week at the WORD office and at her house to complete the final draft of The Fantastic Life Of A Disappearing Man. They were meeting with artists for cover art. They were completing the final formatting. Amy was involved in the publication process as much as she could be. It was a way for her to connect more with Arthur. If she was completely helpful and available for Arthur she knew he would appreciate her even more. She gave to get.
Zev wasn’t able to out run the feeling that Amy was possibly in love with that guy she was using as bait in their sex shows. Who was that guy? He looked familiar but couldn’t recall where he had seen him. He was young and had a nice body but his skin was pale. He was a terrible dresser and looked like a complete nerd. There was no way that Amy could be in love with a guy like this. It just wasn’t possible. Zev was crazy for even thinking so. Zev was a handsome, well-dressed, successful contemporary painter. He was at the height of his career and at the age of 41 still had a full head of long hair. There was just no way that Amy would fall in love with someone like that guy. This is what Zev told himself. Zev didn’t take into consideration that Zev was miserable and depressed all the time, he was growing older and slower, when he did fuck Amy she had to do most of the work because he was too tired and in his depression he had neglected to maintain any muscle in his upper body. Arthur had muscular arms.
No matter how much Zev told himself that he was crazy for feeling the way he did he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He started talking to Marissa. He couldn’t help it. He was an external processor who needed to talk with somebody about what was on his mind. Since he was around Marissa a lot at the studio, he talked to her. Zev would paint and Marissa would hand him brushes and paint. She would pick up after him and clean up any mess. She listened to Zev as he told her about his suspicions. Marissa listened to Zev tell her that he felt like Amy was carrying around some sort of big secret. She had felt much more detached from him. There was little affection coming from her anymore. Something was off. Something was going on and he was suspicious that she could be in love with some guy. Marissa knew who the guy was. She knew it was the author of Man On The Ceiling, which was one of her favorite books. But she refrained from telling Zev this. She didn’t know what to do so she played dumb like most do in similar situations.
A man always suffers alone. The more Zev felt the way he did, the more paranoid he became. He didn’t know what to do with his strong and annoying feelings. He needed resolution. He would ask Amy who she was texting and he would tell her that she was always on her phone and in the bathroom for longer periods of time. They would argue about this. Amy would tell him that she wasn’t on her phone that much and Zev would tell her that she was on her phone all the fucking time. When Amy wasn’t home he started going through her drawers to see if he could find any incriminating evidence. He wasn’t able to find anything specific but he did find some receipts for dinners she had not told him about. He would sometimes drive by the WORD office to see if she was there when she said she would be. While he was painting at his studio he would become convinced that Amy was with the other man in that moment. He would tell Marissa that he was going home early and he would drive back to his house as fast as he could. Zev would park his car several streets over and then walk into the bushes across the street from his house. He would sit in the bushes for an entire afternoon, getting his black pants covered in dirt. He was trying to discover what was really going on. Seeking resolution for himself. Was Amy gaslighting him? That couldn’t be. Zev didn’t want to believe Amy was a horrible person but he had always been concerned about certain psychopathic tendencies he thought she had. From the bushes and dirt he would watch Amy come and go. He would watch various authors come and go from his home. And then he noticed that guy.
Zev felt his heart race. He had to calm himself down. He watched Arthur get in his car. Arthur was wearing jeans and Daniel Johnston t-shirt. He looked like a nerdy guy. How could Amy be into him? How could this be possible? Once Arthur drove away, Zev got up out of the bushes, brushed the dirt off of himself and walked into the house. He noticed that the blinds were closed and there were some pillows on the floor. The environment wreaked of sex. When Amy walked out of the bathroom she was startled to see Zev standing in the living room. She pulled herself together, smiled and told Zev that it was nice to see him. She opened the blinds and picked up the pillows. Zev asked Amy what the hell was going on and Amy acted surprised. She asked Zev what he meant and Zev told her that he just saw that guy who she had over for sex shows leaving their house. Amy knew she was in trouble and she had to think fast. Zev asked Amy if she had just had sex with that guy and Amy told Zev that that was a ridiculous thought. The pillows were on the floor and the blinds were closed because she had been doing some exercises before Arthur came over. Zev asked Amy again who the hell that guy was and Amy told him.
Amy assured Zev that nothing was going on between her and Arthur. She hadn’t told him that Arthur was one of the writer’s she worked with because she was afraid Zev would get mad. She knew that Arthur liked her and thought he was easy bait for their sex shows. She was just using him and had absolutely no feelings towards him. She never had sex with him outside of their sex shows. She would never do that. Zev sat down on the couch and Amy went to sit down next to him. She told him that she was very sorry for not telling him about Arthur. Zev thought that Arthur was such a ridiculous name. Zev was angry at Amy for keeping this secret from him. He asked her how she could have sex with someone she was working with? There was no integrity in that. Why would she mix work with her sexual pursuits? Amy told Zev it wasn’t a big deal and Zev thought Amy was reckless and lacked all morals. But he didn’t want to fight with her. Amy asked Zev if she wanted her to make a good dinner tonight. She would go to the market and get him whatever he wanted. Zev was still angry but food was the quickest way to his heart. He told Amy that it would be nice if she made that good beef lasagna. Amy asked if he also wanted red wine and a kombucha and Zev told her that he did. Amy gave Zev a kiss on the forehead and told him not to worry. She got her purse and went to the market. Zev continued sitting on the couch processing what he had just discovered. He knew that more was obviously going on but he didn’t want to confront it. Arthur? What kind of person was Amy? Zev lit a cigarette and looked out the window. Something in him felt like everything was changing. He was horrified. As Amy drove to the market she thought about how close of a call that was. She had been fucking Arthur ten minutes before Zev walked in. Did he know? She would make Zev a nice dinner. She would offer him a blow job after dinner. She would try to be really nice to him. She would give to get.