Amy told Zev that he looked like a Russian intellectual. He was sitting on a bench in their backyard smoking a pre-rolled cigarette. He was wearing a black suit and had his legs crossed as he watched birds landing in the trees. He could feel the effect of the smoke on his lungs creating a kind of burnt taste that was always on his throat and tongue. Zev thanked Amy for the compliment since the Russian intellectual look had been something he was striving to achieve ever since he watched his first Andrei Tarkovsky film. Amy pulled weeds and dead lettuce from the garden box, which seemed to be a failed project of hers. Amy asked Zev if he had any upcoming shows and he told her that he didn’t know. Amy thought about how she was going to get to fuck Arthur that evening and told Zev that she had a work meeting later that night.
It wasn’t unusual for Amy to have a lot of work meetings. WORD was becoming more and more successful. Each month they had hundreds of new subscribers to their blog and mailing list. Contemporary indie fiction and culturally relevant critical essays seemed to be becoming more and more popular. Younger people were thirsting for a kind of intelligence and thought process that Netflix was not able to provide. More and more young people were reading contemporary literature on-line. It was a cultural development which seemed to only be growing. Now WORD was becoming like the Rolling Stone magazine of the contemporary literary world.
It was Amy’s job to edit some of the more popular contemporary authors. She was Tao-Lin’s main editor and also edited the work of Jarett Kobek, the popular counterculture writer. She edited several of the Sam Pink novels and was working on editing a novel by Johnny Strike when he died. Highly regarded indie writer’s knew about Amy and they all wanted her to be involved with editing their work. But it took Amy a long time to edit even a short story so she was only able to work with a certain number of writers each year.
Zev was always getting upset with Amy about the amount of work she would take on. He felt like she continually bit off more than she could chew and then get stressed out about it. When Amy was stressed out she would be agitated and mean to Zev. She would be more restless and unable to slow down. She would be continually talking and doing things and this drove Zev crazy. But Amy was an editor in high demand and there is a lot of pressure when a person has that kind of job. Amy dealt with these pressures in what may be thought of as unhealthy ways. She would sleep with many of the writers she worked with. She was having an affair with Arthur that had already gone too far. She would fall in love with different men and become preoccupied with them. She would masturbate while thinking of them and sometimes send them naked pictures of herself. She would also engage in perverted behaviors with Zev. No one would have imagined who Amy really was behind her sophisticated and intellectual façade. Everyone thought of her as a very nice girl with a sharp intelligence. They thought of her as an excellent dresser and as being happily married to a famous contemporary painter. Many thought that Zev and Amy were living the hip domestic dream.
Sometimes Amy would try to spice things up between her and Zev by suggesting that they go to a sex party or invite a couple over to their home. Zev tried this with her but never had much fun. Amy would get fucked by the couple they had over to their home. At sex parties Amy would hook up with various people but Zev never felt comfortable. He didn’t like having to talk to people in that kind of environment. He felt ashamed and awkward. He would have sex with a woman but it always felt uncomfortable doing it around Amy. As much as watching Amy have sex with someone else would turn him on it would also bother him when he saw how into the sex Amy was. It wasn’t like that between the two of them so seeing it made him uncomfortable.
Eventually Amy and Zev had the idea to do home sex shows. They would do this once a month as a way to blow off steam and have some sexual fun together. Amy would find a guy on Tinder who she liked and then invite him over to their Silverlake home. Sometimes it was difficult to find a man since most guys thought it was some sort of joke or a prostitution situation. An attractive woman inviting a single guy over to her house for sex seemed too good to be true to most. But some horny souls decided to go on the adventure. They would come over to the house and Amy would entertain them on the couch. The couch was right in front of a large window that looked out into the backyard. While Amy would be entertaining a guy on the couch, Zev would be in the garden watching through a pair of recently bought binoculars.
It would usually take Amy at least a half hour to start being sexual with a guy. Zev would impatiently wait. They would always start off by getting to know each other and drink the gin Amy requested the guy bring. Some guys would bring cocaine and Amy would partake. She felt random sex with strangers was better when cocaine was involved. Zev would watch them talk through his binoculars and anticipate who would make the first move. It turned him on when Amy would make the first move and she almost always did. Within minutes of kissing, Amy would be pulling down the guys pants and sucking him off. Zev would become erect and pull down his pants and masturbate as he watched. Zev loved masturbating in the privacy of his garden while watching Amy perform. Some people enjoy being spectators at a football or baseball game. Zev enjoyed being a spectator of his wife having sex with another man. Few things were more enjoyable for Zev than orgasming all over his plants as he watched Amy screw another man. Zev admired Amy for her pornographic skills. She was fantastic at sex and putting on sex shows. A true exhibitionist. She missed her calling as a porn actress, Zev often thought. After the guy left and hour or so later Zev would come back into the house and tell Amy about what a great show it was. Amy would be happy because she knew that these sorts of experiences pleased Zev. Over time Amy learned how to take advantage of the situation.
Zev noticed that every few weeks or month Amy had started bringing over the same guy. Zev would do his thing in the garden as he watched this guy screw the hell out of Amy. He noticed that he started feeling jealous. The guy was in good physical shape and much younger than Zev. He was handsome and good at pleasing Amy. Amy seemed to be very into having sex with this guy and one time Zev could swear she told the guy that he was the best sex she had ever had with a person. Zev also noticed that when this guy came over to the house it didn’t take them long to start having sex. When they were done having sex they would hang out and talk and kiss. The guy would hug Amy and hold her in his arms. They would laugh a lot and then after a fifteen minute or so break they would start having sex again. Amy seemed to be enjoying herself too much and this caused Zev to feel like something was not right. Why would she act this way when she knew he was watching? When Zev talked to Amy about it she told him it was just some stupid guy she met on Tinder. He was just good to play with and nothing more was happening, she told Zev. Zev believed her. The guy was too young anyways. She didn’t tell Zev that the guy was Arthur. Amy figured if she was doing this to please Zev she could also use it as an opportunity to have sex with Arthur. Arthur had no idea that Amy’s husband was standing in the garden watching them. None of the guys knew. It was Amy and Zev’s perverted little secret.
Zev starting isolating more and more. His smoking increased and so did his need for coffee, booze and a daily orgasm. Anything to help him feel pleasure. Zev was already innately introverted but the depression took him further within. He didn’t want to socialize anymore. He couldn’t stand people. He thought that everyone was a sell out and he wanted to have nothing to do with them. He felt like people were cruel and selfish. Stupid and full of themselves and Zev dreamed of being able to live off the grid, far from all people. He would often tell Amy about how much he hated people and society and Amy would agree that people stunk. He was happy to at least have Amy in his life. She seemed like a good person and like someone who would never betray him. He knew Amy had his back and he felt fortunate to at least have one person in this demented world. Amy did love Zev but just not that much.
Zev would go to the studio and spend his day painting. He wasn’t even talking to Marissa anymore. The more depressed Zev would become the more he would judge everyone. He judged Marissa for the stupid manga paintings she made. He hated artists who had to play by the rules. Who had to demonstrate their skills through their art. Fuck that. He preferred to show how he had no skill through his art. He wanted art to be free of all the bullshit pretention and technicality. This was the real art, he thought. Authentic expression not clouded by skill. Zev thought that most contemporary art sucked because rich people and galleries wanted artists who had an MFA and lots of skill. But Zev found it all dull and devoid of a soul. He felt like Marissa was making this kind of art and resented her for her lack of imagination. But he didn’t tell her. Marissa thought that Zev was becoming even more deranged in his isolation. But he was a great contemporary painter and she assumed that this is how painters sometimes behaved.
Zev would return home from the studio and want to have dinner with Amy. He had recently bought a Throbbing Gristle record that he wanted to listen to with Amy. Zev enjoyed turning Amy on to new music and Amy appreciated Zev for it. Most nights Amy would be home and she would make them dinner. Zev would sit on the couch and read while drinking the gin that was left over from their sex show night. He would go out onto the deck and smoke a cigarette or two. Amy would be in the kitchen making dinner and texting with Arthur. Always texting with Arthur. She couldn’t get enough even when preparing dinner for her and Zev. Zev was such a drag to be around. A defeated man in many ways. Arthur was still young and filled with the excitement of life, yet to be infected by the process of growing old. She found Arthur charming and full of strange oddities and this made her feel more hopeful about things. Zev used to be a charming man but once he became a more in demand painter and took on the responsibility of a large studio, all the charm drained out of him. Now Amy thought of Zev as a sad reflection of the man he used to be. He wore all black now and continually smoked cigarettes. A complete downer.
Zev enjoyed reading, drinking and smoking as he waited for dinner to be made. It was one of the more enjoyable periods of his day. This is why they call it Happy Hour, Zev thought. Night after night, Amy would put the food on the table and then they ate. Zev would have a record playing and they would talk about their day. Mostly it was Amy talking about things going on at WORD. Or she would talk about her alcoholic friend Rae who was working as a prostitute and a preschool teacher. She talked about friends of hers and things that they did that bothered her. She would talk fast and have a lot to say. She would talk with food in her mouth which annoyed Zev. Zev acted like he was hearing what Amy was saying even though he was trying to drown her out by listening to the record. And she would talk on and on. Zev didn’t mind so much since he often didn’t have much to say.
After dinner Zev would do the dishes and they would either read together or watch something on-line. But recently Amy was not coming to bed when Zev would be in bed reading his book. He would ask her what she was doing and she would yell back that she was not tired and was playing a game on-line. Or she would tell him that she was text messaging with her friends. Zev found this strange because Amy always came to bed with him. She would be the first person to fall asleep. Now she wasn’t tired at 11pm anymore. Amy would stay up until one or two in the morning and Zev would be long asleep when she would come to bed. Amy would be up messaging with Arthur. They were now messaging each other on a private app that made it impossible for anyone to find. If Zev happened to go through her phone or try to hack her phone, this app would never be found. They would message about all the sexual things they wanted to do with one another. Arthur told Amy that she had completely melted into his soul. She was a part of him now. Amy loved the adoration. It made her feel in love again and she couldn’t seem to get enough of this feeling. Outside of her work, Arthur was becoming a full-time preoccupation. So what if she was neglecting the garden.