Sell Out Man, Chapter Five

Arthur thought about Amy all the time. He tried not to put any emotional pressure on her and kept most of his feelings to himself. When he did text her the texts would only be sexually related. He tried to keep most things about sex because he knew that was the fundamental hold he had on her. But he missed her when she wasn’t with him. He wanted to be with her all the time and he was having a more difficult time denying this to himself as the days went by. He was aware that Amy was a married woman. He knew she was married to a famous painter. But he also knew that she was not happy in her marriage and that she was happy with him. This gave Zev and opening. At least it made him feel like he had one.

It’s difficult to be in love and a writer simultaneously. The two do not go well together. If one is in love, all they want to do is be with the object of their love. To be a writer one cannot afford the distraction of love. The writer needs to be mostly loveless to remain focused on his or her writing. Arthur couldn’t write. Fortunately, he had already written the first draft of his upcoming book of essays. Now all he had to do was a lot of editing. He could do a lot of the editing with Amy when they hung out together but he needed to also do a lot of editing when he was alone. Focusing on his editing work was difficult. He had to force himself.

Arthur preferred thinking about Amy. He would masturbate several times a day thinking about her. He would send her videos of him masturbating and orgasming while watching porn. He would send her dick pics and Amy would always respond favorably. She loved the erotic attention. She loved the pornography of it all. Amy prided herself on her ability to be slutty. She wasn’t like all the other girls, ashamed and guilty. Amy had liberated herself from that and had become a good slut. She would send Arthur videos of her naked in the bathtub. She would paint her toe nails while nude and send Arthur videos of her playing with her feet and spreading her legs. They were even more turned on by each other when they were sexting than when together.

Arthur was too sex obsessed to stay focused on a book of literary essays about culture, philosophy, music and the unreliability of subjective percetions. He exercised at a gym and went for long walks. He tried to stay physical so that he could release a lot of the tension that sexual build-up creates. He hung at with friends and tried to maintain as balanced of a life as possible. He would see Amy once or maybe twice a week. This is how it needed to be for now. Sometimes she would meet him for lunch. Sometimes he would come over to her Silverlake home during the day while Zev was at work. Sometimes she would go to his place in the afternoon. Or sometimes Amy would tell Zev that she was going out with friends on a Friday or Saturday night and instead she would be going out with Arthur and staying out till around 4am. This is what their relationship consisted of for now. Fitting in rendezvous whenever they could.

Amy was able to maintain a normal life with Zev. Enough so that he didn’t suspect much about what was going on. She tried to pay attention to Zev. To be as present for their life as she could be. She wasn’t ready for a divorce but just wanted to be able to have her cake and eat it. She wanted it all. She went to the market and made dinner just as she always did. She worked at the kitchen table just as she always did. She seemed to maintain the same habits and routines. But Zev began to feel a difference. He noticed that she paid less attention to him. That she seemed less affectionate than normal. Less emotionally connected. Zev detected more distance between he and Amy and even though he may not have been consciously aware of the grief this caused, he fell into a depression. A depression that would only continue to suck him in deeper and eventually attempt to devour him whole.

Zev began to experience his depression but not talk too much about it. He kept his suicidal thoughts to himself because he couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong. He knew he was already unhappy in his life and assumed that things were just getting worse for him. He was becoming more unhappy in his work even though his paintings were selling for more and more. He wasn’t very affectionate with Amy so he couldn’t blame her for not being very affectionate with him. He barley wanted to kiss her and struggled to return what little affections Amy still had for him. He understood that his lack of affection was what made Amy less affectionate and he was fine with that. He didn’t want to be touched anyways. Zev figured eventually things would get better. He would quit being a painter and focus on his cartoons. He and Amy would eventually be happier. They just needed to get through this difficult time. Zev assumed that this was what people who were married did. They toughed out the difficult times. It didn’t occur to Zev that Amy was texting pornographic images and bathtub nudes to some other guy.

The depression seemed to make his paintings darker. There was a more lamentable feel to everything he did. He started drawing and writing in his journal more and wasn’t as productive in the studio. Marissa would spend a lot of her time cleaning or sitting around reading. Zev didn’t mind paying her for reading. He just assumed that young people today needed some incentive if they were going to be readers. So he encouraged Marissa to read if she didn’t have anything to do and this was Marissa’s favorite part of the job. Sometimes she was paid to read for four or five hours a day. Zev would recommend books and authors to her and she would read every one. She loved Zev’s recommendations and knew that there was no other way for her to find out about these things. She valued Zev for how smart she felt like he was.

Zev started smoking while he painted. Normally he would wait until he was done painting to smoke. Now he had a paint brush in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He was sad when he painted but tried to lose himself in the process of painting. This would often work. He would focus on each movement of the paintbrush and he would follow the paint as it turned into different colors and textures. He would lose himself in the process of making art and it was in these moments of creative flow that he was an authentic artist. Zev loved losing himself in creativity. Creativity was a space that was free and beyond boundaries. Zev loved this feeling and wanted to live in the space of creativity. Not outside of it. He was not very good at life outside of creativity but when he was inside of creativity he was a master. The depression seemed to make it harder for him to access this space of pure creativity but when he did he noticed that his work was becoming darker than it had ever been. Almost Edward Munch like. He didn’t realize his depression was exacerbated by the subconscious sense of Amy’s interest in another man.

One afternoon Zev came home early from work. He was tired of painting and didn’t have any big shows coming up in the immediate future. He was now working on commissions for rich people, which he could work on at his own pace. He sent Marissa home early. Marissa felt upset that Zev didn’t want to go get a drink with her but she let it go. She knew it was nuts to be in love with a married man. Especially a man married to a gorgeous and sophisticated woman like Amy. Zev didn’t tell Amy that he was coming home early. He just didn’t think of it. The universe works in strange but strategic ways. When Zev pulled up in his black Audi he noticed Arthur walking out of the side front gate and down the street to his car. He didn’t think much of it because Amy would often have writers and editors over to the house. He just thought that Arthur was another one of those hip and young literary authors publishing in WORD.

When Zev walked into the home the curtains in the living room were drawn and there were some pillows on the floor. The air smelled strange and for a flash of a second Zev wondered if Amy had just had sex with that guy he saw leaving the house. But as soon as he saw Amy come out of the bathroom with a smile on her face and a long black dress on, he forgot about the suspicion. He knew that couldn’t be it. Amy walked over and gave him a hug and a kiss. She was talking as she picked up the pillows and opened the curtains. Zev listened to her and thought about having a cigarette. He didn’t even ask her why the blinds were drawn and the pillows were on the floor. He didn’t ask her who the guy walking out of their house was. He still trusted Amy more than any person in the world. Zev asked Amy if she wanted to come out back and have a cigarette with her.

Amy and Zev sat on the backyard deck together. They smoked a cigarette and looked out at the garden. Zev was happy that Amy decided to smoke a cigarette with him. Amy told Zev about some ideas that she had for things she wanted to plant. Zev asked Amy when the gardener was coming next. He asked her if she was remembering to water the lawn and he told her that he didn’t feel like she was doing enough work in the yard. He couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want to be out in the beautiful backyard more doing work. He felt like Amy was neglecting their home. Amy took offense to this and felt like she worked plenty. Zev disagreed. Amy accused Zev of not doing much work out there. That most of that yard is her work. That the yard looks beautiful because of the work that she has done. Amy was angry at Zev’s lack of appreciation for all that she had put into the yard. She was sick of being criticized by Zev. Zev always had something negative to say about her. She could never do anything right. Zev didn’t agree. He felt like she was lazy and distracted. Spent too much time on her phone and not focused on the things that mattered. She was letting important shit go. Amy hated when he talked like this and told Zev that she was not discussing it anymore. She had tears in her eyes, not from sadness but from rage. She held them back with the force of all her inner resources. She put out her cigarette and went inside. Life can change in an instant. For the rest of the evening Zev and Amy didn’t talk to each other. Amy made dinner but Zev kept to himself.

In bed that evening Zev refused to put his arm around Amy when she asked him to. He was still angry at her even after she had let it go. He stayed angry throughout the night. He didn’t understand why Amy didn’t make more of an effort to hug him. She was the one who got mad so she should be making an effort to be intimate with him. Why did he have to put his arm around her? Zev fell asleep that night an angry and disdainful man. He felt anger in his chest. His mind was hurried by the feeling of anger that hung around in his chest. This was a common way that Zev would go to bed while married to Amy. Often upset about something she did or didn’t do. Now the depression seemed to only be making this worse. Zev knew that unexpressed anger which was internalized would turn into depression. He wondered if many years of feeling this way was what was causing him to feel so depressed now. He felt defeated and had no idea what he was going to do. He tried to fall asleep by following his breathing rather than being lost in the swirling of thoughts his brain was generating. His efforts were futile and an overwhelming sense of frustration, which is familiar to all insomniacs, caused him to get out of bed and go smoke a cigarette on the backyard deck. Something about the silence of late night mixed with nicotine helped him feel a bit better. Amy was still awake but pretending to be asleep when Zev returned to bed.


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