Sell Out Man, A Really Good Novel. Chapter Thirty One.

Chapter Thirty One

 

Zev went for walks. Long walks. He listened to the ambient sounds of birds and the ocean. People looked at him like someone they couldn’t figure out. His long hair and black clothes didn’t fit in with the beach town attire. Zev tried to be as evasive as he could be. He looked at the ground when he walked. He didn’t make eye contact or say hello to anyone. He wanted to remain obscured. Zev ate boiled noodles from a paper cup. Sometimes he took himself out to a seafood dinner where he always ordered a side of corn on the cob. He was adapting to a life lived alone, without fame or the pursuit of it. He still thought about Amy much of the time but was no longer as hyperbolically fixated on what she had done. What could he do about it? It had already almost killed him. What is done is done. He needed to accept it and move one. He needed to save himself. The smoking of cigarettes had gotten out of hand. So had the consumption of marijuana and alcohol. He became even more indulgent and self-destructive in his despair. But he didn’t care that much. He would do what felt good for as long as he could. Zev had a brain that brought him more suffering than it should. This was not the biological purpose of a brain- to inflict so much psychological turmoil on its host. Something had gone wrong in its wiring. Maybe it was society. Maybe it was his childhood. He was already troubled long before fame entered his life. Whatever the case may be, he needed to keep his brain sedated. It was the only way he could feel some semblance of joy.

Zev utilized many different modalities to sedate his irascible brain. Music and reading. Marijuana inhalation from the moment he woke until the moment he slept. Endless cigarettes. Music. Continual snacking and cleaning. Pornography. Instagram. He was continually looking at what other contemporary painters were posting on Instagram. For the most part Zev thought it was all soulless crap. Images created just to attract attention to the artist’s skill. Those were the worst kind. Zev wanted art that was organic and raw. Outsider art which possessed little skill but much soul. He spent his evening hours drunk, stoned and scrolling through his phone. Sometimes he watched films. Sometimes he texted with Amy. Other times he would lay in bed and stare into the darkness. There was nothing else to do. What was the point of doing anything anyways? Why make art? Why try to achieve some sort of critical acclaim? As Buddhists figured out, it all turned to dust eventually. It all became unimportant and irrelevant as time went on and gave birth to new generations. Why not just spend the day loafing around, watching the day turn to night? Why slave away at a solitary desk or in an isolated studio space for the sake of art? Why not be outside, wandering around? Zev thought about these things.

After his first month living on the old yacht, Zev felt he was growing happier in solitude. Not having to interact with others brought him relief. No more pretending to be someone he was not. He no longer had to be nice to people just so he could sell some paintings. He didn’t have to shower every day and try to make himself look nice enough that others wouldn’t negatively judge him. He could do what he wanted, when he wanted. He didn’t have to waste time talking with people. The arguing with Amy had all about ceased to exist. If she was in a relationship with Arthur now, fuck her. Sometimes he felt like driving over to the Silverlake house to see if Arthur was spending the night but he never did. It was too far of a drive for something like that. Women left men for other men sometimes. It was just something that happened in life. Why should he be exempt? Zev spent a lot of time working on his yacht, trying to get things just right. He sanded. He painted the inside and outside. He painted the floors. He ripped out a few walls and built a new bed. He enjoyed this more working class life and understood why Jesus worked as a carpenter. He put in new shelves in the kitchen. He fixed the yacht’s circuit breaker. He installed a new toilet. It was enjoyable working on things that made a difference in life, unlike art.

Zev set up a desk for himself where he could write and draw his cartoons. He wasn’t working on his cartoons as much as he wanted to but was keeping things clean. On his desk, everything was in its correct place. Miscellaneous things laying around bugged Zev. Now that he was living alone he had no reason not to have everything in its right place. For years, he suffered through living with a restless and fidgety woman who couldn’t keep anything in its right place. It caused him much distress. Every time Amy walked into a room he knew something would get messed up. This caused him a continual agitation. Amy thought Zev was anal and obsessive. She pitied him for needing as much organization in his life as he did. He wasted so much of his time cleaning, Amy thought. But there was nothing she could do about it. It was the only way Zev felt a sense of control in his life. Now that Amy wasn’t around to mess things up, Zev took advantage of the opportunity to keep everything looking just how he wanted. This pursuit took up much of his time but he wasn’t half as angry anymore.

One afternoon, the poet Tottman Haul stopped in to visit Zev. Since Amy’s party, they had maintained a correspondence. They liked each other. Zev had sent Tottman many desperate emails where he would write about how stressed out and hurt he felt. He would tell John about the hell he was enduring and hope to get some palliative words back in return. Tottman never failed Zev in this way. He was always able to provide some consolation. When Tottman arrived in Oxnard, he was feeling very distressed. The drive from LA had been long and tiring. The night before he spent with Lydia Lunch, which he found exhausting. The woman just talked so much and could be so loud and vulgar. When Zev went out to the parking lot to greet Tottman, he couldn’t find him anywhere. Then he noticed a thin man standing in the distance, with curly hair blowing in the wind. He wore a black blazer and black dress pants and had a black book bag in his hand. Immediately Zev knew it was Tottman. Zev was happy to see someone else who did not fit in with the lazy and unsophisticated fashion choices in Oxnard. When Zev walked up to Tottman Haul he felt like giving him a hug. He was happier to see him than he thought he would be. The day was sunny and warm. Zev remembered that Tottman was uncomfortable with hugging so he held out his hand instead.

Zev showed Tottman Haul around. Tottman asked Zev if he had been doing any whoring. They walked side by side and talked about various things. It was the first human contact Zev had had in some time. On the yacht, Tottman and Zev sat on white beach chairs and drank beer that Zev had bought. Zev smoked cigarettes. They watched boats and birds go by. Tottman told Zev that he was living a nice life. Tottman Haul felt happy being out of the city. He told Zev about his night with Lydia. Zev was impressed that Lydia Lunch was one of his many girlfriends. Whenever Lydia was in LA, they would get together. They would make love and argue. Tottman said his nerves couldn’t handle another evening with the woman. Zev asked if Tottman wanted to take a walk on the beach.

As they walked in the sand with the ocean in the background, Zev told Tottman about what was going on with Amy. He told Tottman Haul about Arthur and Tottman couldn’t understand the appeal. He strongly disliked trendy contemporary writers. Tottman asked Zev a lot of questions, which Zev appreciated. Not many people asked questions because they just wanted to speak of themselves. But Tottman understood Zev’s situation. He had been there many times before himself. In love with a woman who was no longer in love with him. Being in love with a woman who has moved on with another man. Being incapacitated and destroyed by his lust and attachment to another woman. These were things Tottman Haul knew and wrote about. Tottman told Zev that he was gradually weaning himself off of Amy. This made sense to Zev. It wouldn’t all happen at once. Lust took time to dissipate. It was a very slow drip and would take time. Tottman told Zev that he should try and find other women to fuck and reduce the amount he had sex and contact with Amy. Over time he would feel better. Who knew, maybe Amy would even return to him. Tottman bent down and picked up rocks and seashells. He took deep breaths. He was enamored by the sea.

In the early evening, Zev took Tottman to an Asian food court not far the yacht. Zev said that if there was ever another pandemic it could start here. They ate noodles, shrimp and blackened cod. Fish swam around in glass containers behind them. Crabs and lobsters with their claws taped shut were stacked upon one another in dirty fish tanks. Families and couples sat around masticating their food as they talked about nothing. Tottman Haul dropped a piece of shrimp on the floor and Zev noticed it out of the corner of his eye. Tottman looked over at the shrimp on the floor. What a waste, Tottman thought. Tottman smiled at Zev and got up from his seat. He walked over to the cooked shrimp on the floor and said hello to the couple who were sitting near it. They looked disdainfully at him. Like he was invading their privacy. Tottman bent over and picked up the shrimp and then stuck it in his mouth. He chewed the shrimp and told Zev that it tasted delicious, as he sat down in his seat. Tottman asked Zev if he wanted him to put a shrimp on the floor for him. Zev laughed harder than he had in years. Tottman was one of the few who could make Zev laugh like he did. They shared a similar dark sense of humor.

Back on the yacht they drank more beer and listened to some of Zev’s records. Zev played The Dead C, Terry Riley, Coil and The Residents. Zev had been getting into Mark Of The Mole, which was becoming his favorite album by The Residents. Tottman Haul read through some of the books and magazines Zev had lying around. They talked about the tragic downfall of Nick Cave. How in his older age Nick Cave exploited his personal tragedies because he had nothing else left to say and his fans ate it up. Zev smoked cigarettes and marijuana. Tottman Haul abstained. He had grown up a smoker in England and told Zev about the few years he spent living with the band Nurse With Wound. There was cigarette smoke mixed with marijuana smoke hovering in the air continuously. In the studio and in the house they all shared. In the pubs they drank warm beer in. Tottman had lived in smoke. Tottman Haul told Zev not to feel judged for his smoking habit. He knew all about it. Tottman asked Zev about what he was going to do now that he had left the old lady. Zev told him that he didn’t know. He had enough money saved to last awhile. He wanted to make more cartoons but he lacked the inspiration to work on any of it. Maybe he would write a novel or a memoir about his time as a famous abstract painter. Tottman told him that he should think about doing that. There could be good money in it. Zev told Tottman that maybe he would really sell out this time. Maybe he would become an ordinary man not doing much of anything with his time. He could work on a fishing boat or in a restaurant when his money ran out. Tottman told Zev that that didn’t seem very pleasant. Once it got late Tottman decided it was time for him to head back to Echo Park. His car window wasn’t rolling up and he would freeze the entire drive back.

As Tottman Haul drove back to LA that night, he kept his heater on high. His car was old and the heater didn’t warm things up much. Cold evening air caused his body to constrict. Tottman cursed his fate. He cursed the world. He couldn’t understand why Zev would throw away a perfectly good career. For what? Zev drove a nice car. He once had a very nice house and studio space. Zev had the kind of cultural attention he would be happy to have. Now he was living on an old yacht in some tranquil town by the sea. It seemed to Tottman that Zev was self-destructive in many ways. He couldn’t accept any happiness into his life. Instead he destroyed it. Tottman Haul felt sad for Zev. It must be difficult to be living that kind of marital life. Tottman was happy to be single and living alone. After decades spent dealing with love, he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to fall in love. Why would they do that to themselves? Tottman Haul thought about how few things were as symbolic of cowardliness as a couple walking hand in hand. Two people terrified of being alone. And now Zev was alone. Tottman sure hoped Zev knew what he was doing with his life. He didn’t like that talk of becoming an ordinary chap but he certainly understood why one would want to. Tottman decided that he would listen to some Nurse With Wound as he drove the rest of the way. He reminded himself to not sleep with Lydia Lunch again. He thought about a better time, which was now obsolete.

Sell Out Man, A Blog Novel. Chapter Thirty.

Chapter Thirty

 

Arthur was spending a lot of his time at Amy’s house. It was much better than spending the night at his shitty apartment in Koreatown. Arthur had expected to make more money with the release of his new book but not that much money entered his pockets. The book of essays sold well. Young thinking people were hungry for an intelligent and absurd literary approach to life. Thinking people in America were starving for substantial intellectual sustenance. Netflix and reading things on-line didn’t seem to be filling the void. A book of literary essays written by a young and good looking man, deconstructing what most people took as normal and commonplace, was ravenously desired by young (and older) intellectuals. They were slowly and gradually rotting from inside out because of the intellectual banality of this American life.

As often happens in America, the labors of the individual worker feed those in charge. Even though The Fantastic Life Of A Disappearing Man was selling well, it was the publishing company that was benefiting. They farted out a few bucks to Arthur and promised him that at some point in the future a lot more was to come. Just be happy people are reading your book and be patient, the publishing company’s lawyer wrote to him in an email. Arthur was planning on not having to teach or find another form of work. He was hopeful that he would make enough money with his new book to be able to possibly buy a small house. Maybe he would have much more money in his bank account and be able to live as a writer. Maybe he would be able to do what most others had told him was impossible- write the books he wanted to write for a living.

Arthur liked spending more time at Amy’s place. He was satisfied not having to feel like Zev was going to come home. He could relax. It was a nice house. The kind of house he would like to own someday. He thought it was possible since Zev Bauhaus had achieved it as a painter. Why couldn’t a writer like himself also achieve it? Amy hadn’t told Arthur that the house belonged to her. That it was given to her by her parents. Zev Bauhaus played no part in the ownership of it. She didn’t tell anyone this because she didn’t want to make Zev look bad. Arthur, like everyone else, was under the impression that Zev was the owner of a very nice house. He must be successful. Arthur just assumed, like everyone else. He knew that Zev moved onto a yacht in some town he had never heard of, but he assumed that Zev still owned the house and that Amy would probably get it with the divorce settlement. Arthur didn’t realize that Zev was living on an old yacht because eventually Amy was going to ask him to leave. It was inevitable. The house wasn’t his. He didn’t have a choice. The old yacht was his home. The Silverlake home was now just a storage space for memories and objects that Zev once owned. All the furniture, books, thousands of records, paintings, stereo equipment, bikes, magazines, cassette tapes, framed photographs with other famous artists, sculptures and on and on- Zev planned to leave it all behind. It was time to move on. A man was only as rich as how little he owned.

In the beginning, after Zev’s quick exodus, Arthur stayed at Amy’s house three or four nights a week. They had fun together. They watched stupid movies in bed. They played video games for hours. They took showers and baths together. Amy would drink and Arthur would smoke pot. Sometimes they would have sex but sometimes they would just have fun together. They would make dinner and dance after. Arthur would have Amy dress up in sexy outfits and dance around in them for him as he played with his cock. He would tell Amy all about his life. Problems with friends, annoyances with work, issues with parents and economic struggles. He had a tendency to talk and talk and sometimes Amy wondered if Arthur was autistic. Amy began to find Arthur’s company somewhat draining but once he fucked her she quickly forgot about her grievances. She loved the way Arthur fucked her. He worked hard for her and fucked her as hard as she wanted so that she could orgasm. Sometimes she would force Arthur to make her orgasm two or three times. Arthur would be sweating. He would work harder than he did at the gym but he wanted to do whatever he could to keep Amy pleased. The moment she lost interest in fucking him, he knew would be the moment he was rendered obsolete. Amy was just that kind of girl. She used people for what she needed and Arthur was aware of something that kept him concerned. He didn’t talk to Amy about it but he knew that the prestige, fame and cultural legitimacy Amy received by being in relationship with Zev Bauhaus was nothing he could compete with. He was a lot younger and wasn’t making much money. He had to fuck Amy as hard and long as he could. He had to pleasure her vagina as much as he possible could. It was the only real advantage he had. That and his youth.

The days Arthur was gone, Amy began to enjoy. She liked being home alone without any interference from men. Over the years she hadn’t spent much time alone in her house. Zev was always coming home in the early evenings, disturbing her peace. This caused her to feel continual anxiety about making sure the house looked a certain way. Were the front and back yards in decent shape? Was the house clean enough? Had she forgotten to put anything away? Were there dishes in the sink or urine and tissue paper still in the toilet? When Amy was home alone, it didn’t feel like she was really alone. She had to worry about keeping things in a way that Zev would agree with so as not to upset him when he came home from work. Zev Bauhaus was a very temperamental man, Amy thought. Now that Zev had moved out, the house all hers. She enjoyed not having to share. She could leave things wherever she wanted. She could lay around in bed for as long as she wanted. She could do whatever she wanted with the back and front yard. She could live exactly as she wanted without having to hear Zev tell her that she needed to exercise more, organize more or do something more productive with her life. Now that Amy had the Silverlake home all to herself, she felt liberated. As sad as she was that Zev was gone, she loved her freedom. She felt a kind of peace that she hadn’t felt in a long time. This feeling of peace she would often prefer over Arthur’s company.

Amy felt happy during her days spent alone at home. She hadn’t felt happy in a very long time despite the fact that she was good at faking happiness. Amy had misunderstood happiness, just as most extroverts do. Happiness for Amy had become a kind of drunken hyper-stimulation, which caused a strong feeling of excitement to boil up in her. She loved this feeling of excitement that she felt when in the company of others. She felt excited whenever the opportunity for sex arose. She was sometimes excited by the work she was doing and the books she was editing. She also felt excited about her relationship with Arthur. It was exciting to be having a passionate affair with a younger man. Excitement was what she unknowingly mistook for happiness. Excitement was a kind of coping mechanism for the banality and stress of maintaining the American dream. Excitement was what allowed her to excel at her job. During Amy’s initial days spent alone at home, she learned about what happiness really was. It was a kind of satisfaction in the present moment. She was satisfied with her life alone. She loved the peace. Zev had gotten in the way of this because Zev Bauhaus could never be satisfied.

As the weeks went on, Amy wanted to spend more of her time alone in her house. To her it felt like she was living an entirely new kind of life. Because she didn’t need to leave her home for work, she could stay home. She ordered her food and other essential items on Amazon. Sometimes she ordered pizza or had sushi delivered. The only thing she needed to go out for was liquor and the occasional times she had to go into WORD for a work meeting. Otherwise she could live in her own universe while home alone. For the first time in her life she was enjoying being alone. It’s a common thing people discover when a stressful relationship ends. Amy still had Arthur coming over. Arthur wanted to come over all the time. He was even hopeful that he could move some of his stuff in and stay there awhile. But Amy didn’t need him as much as she once did. Once or twice a week felt like enough for her. Now that she was more satisfied in her life she didn’t need to lose herself in earth shattering orgasms as much. There was no longer as much of a thrill in it all, as there once was. Her sadistic tendencies seemed to be thawing out now that Zev was annoying less of the time.

Amy was hopeful she could maintain a close friendship with Zev. She never stopped admiring him. She still loved him very much and couldn’t imagine a life without him in it. She just didn’t want to be married to Zev anymore. He had become too miserable. Selling out had made him a miserable man. She couldn’t live with that kind of negative energy anymore. To be free of it in her day to day life was wonderful and she couldn’t imagine ever letting Zev Bauhaus move back in. But Amy still hoped to remain close to Zev Bauhaus. She didn’t even want to get a divorce. They could just stay married even though she no longer referred to Zev as her husband. Marriage was just a bureaucratic thing anyways. Why go through all the difficulty of getting a divorce? Why not just stay married legally but be divorced psychologically? Then they wouldn’t have to deal with all the bureaucratic bullshit and Amy could still legitimately keep Zev’s last name. After all, no last name would benefit her more in her life. Bauhaus was the perfect last name for her. It gave her credibility. Amy would do what she could to keep Zev in her life. She would fuck him. She would suck his dick as much as he wanted. She would hang out with him. She would return his texts promptly and try to show some interest in his life. She would handle his financial situation. It was a difficult balance to figure out because she didn’t want to give Zev the impression that she wanted to be back in a relationship with him. She didn’t want to lead him on. More importantly, she didn’t want to make herself vulnerable to a feeling she was trying hard to keep repressed- the feeling of wanting Zev Bauhaus back. What a mess that would be.

Sell Out Man, A Blog Novel (Bitch). Chapter Twenty Nine (Bitch).

Chapter Twenty Nine

 

Zev Bauhaus knew that he needed to be free of Amy. He couldn’t see her anymore. No more fucking. It was difficult for him to imagine his life without her blowjobs, her nudity, her beauty. But he knew that it was what needed to be done if he was going to escape insanity. He had been rendered obsolete. He was no longer capable of much. He had just enough energy to take care of basic things like eating, cleaning up and listening to music. Even his cartoons dried up. There was no creative ambition in him. When a man obsesses about a woman, everything else falls away. Many of men have lost their lives and livelihoods because of a woman. Some men who you see degenerate and deranged on Los Angeles street corners were once happily married, middle-class men. Love can destroy a man and often does. Women seem to be more resilient when it comes to the decimation of love. This is what Zev told himself. But his defenses were weak. Even though he knew that he needed to free himself from the sharp and seductive claws of Amy’s grip, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.

He had some pornography on his phone that he made with Amy when they would have sex on their couch or in bed. Zev always enjoyed filming their sexual interactions. He had several videos of Amy sucking his dick. She was so good at that. He also had some videos that he made during their home sex shows. As he was standing in the backyard watching Amy have sex with another man, he would get as close as he could to the window so that the video would be clear on his phone. He would capture Amy in her most skillful moments of fucking, but he never told her he filmed her. Zev would masturbate to these various videos every night. Amy expertly sucking his dick. Amy riding on top of a naked man on their couch. Zev would be on his back in bed and jack off while watching the videos on his phone. The light from the screen would illuminate the pleasure on his face. Sometimes it didn’t take him long to orgasm. Sometimes it took longer because he had smoked too much weed and swallowed too much whiskey. Zev didn’t mind when it would take him longer to orgasm. He could watch more than one video. Being intoxicated and naked in bed while jacking off to homemade pornography was one of his only pleasures in life. But it also kept Zev thinking about Amy.

Zev had a difficult time getting to sleep. He would lay in bed with his mind obsessing about various things. The yacht would be rocking back and forth in motion with the ocean’s currents, causing the yacht to make all sorts of creaking sounds. Sometimes, if the currents were strong, it sounded as if the wood yacht would split in half. He could feel solitude enveloping him in a way that provoked his anxiety. There were not many neighbors around. The world was far away and an enormous ocean with all of its promises for obscurity was just a stone’s throw away. In this solitude Zev would listen to the sounds. He lay on his back with his head on his pillow. He would stare up at the ceiling even though he couldn’t see anything in the darkness. He took hits from the weed pipe he held in his hands and fell asleep with each night. Zev would think about Amy fucking Arthur. He would think about all the ways Amy had screwed him over. How she had betrayed him. He would think about how he didn’t see it coming. What a horrible person she had turned out to be. Just another superficial love addict. But Zev also realized that he was not without fault. He had neglected Amy for years. He was always complaining and getting agitated with her. Nothing was good enough for him. She was always too fast or too slow. Too skinny or too fat. To energetic or not energetic enough. He loved her by breaking her down. That was how he knew how to love. It was how his father loved him. The cycle repeats.

In the darkness Zev also thought about what he was going to do with his life. He was starting all over again. How could he permanently break free from Amy? He would live on the yacht. He wouldn’t work. He had enough money to live for a few years. Maybe even a lifetime if he was frugal with every cent he spent. He didn’t want to have anything to do with the art world anymore. That he knew for certain. Being a well-known contemporary abstract painter had ruined his life. He hated the work. He would have never imagined. When he used to paint all the time in his studio apartment or in the small studio space he rented in an old warehouse in Oakland, it was his dream to be a successful painter. That was what he was working for. He knew that there were hundreds of painters out there painting longer and working harder than he was. This drove him to paint all hours of the day. He wanted to make it. Everyone had told him it was the wrong decision. There was no money in painting. He waited tables and tended bar. He taught art in a high school. One day he would be free from all this drudgery, he would continually tell himself. He believed that painting was his way out. He just needed to keep working. Eventually he would find his way. The naivety of youth.

Zev looked back on those distant days as a better time in his life. There was less pressure to conform and very few people wanted anything from him. Even though he was poor and had to work servile and dehumanizing jobs, he was free. He could be himself. He spent his free time painting, reading and chasing whores. A lot of what little money he had was spent on mental health in a derelict San Francisco strip club. Every week, and when his sex addiction was at its peak twice a week, he would go to the Market Street Cinema after a day of painting. He would save up for the occasion and felt excited when he handed his red ticket to the fat bouncer smoking a cigarette who tore half of it off and handed the other half back to him. The theatre was filled with all sorts of women dressed in underwear and lingerie. Some wore nothing at all and tried to seduce men into coming into one of the many rooms with them. Sometime a whore would just start sucking a guy’s dick out on the floor. Zev would fulfill all his degenerate sexual fantasies in that sex cinema and come back out at 2 or 3 in the morning a happier but poorer man.

Now Zev was alone, betrayed, middle-aged and discouraged by life. He blamed it on his success as a painter. It made him miserable. Having to associate with all those pretentious and arrogant fucks. Having to pretend to be interested in people. Having to talk about things that he could care nothing about. Having to act like he believed in the work he was doing. He hated that he had to sell paintings to wealthy people whom he considered the filth of the earth. Entitled children. Malicious gluttons. Rarely he would sell a painting to a wealthy person that he respected. He once sold a painting to Nick Cave. He had always respected Nick Cave. He felt a great honor that Nick Cave wanted to own one of his abstract paintings. Nick Cave, like many, had learned about Zev Bauhaus from the BOMB magazine article. But like most other rich people, Nick Cave gradually became a self-absorbed parody of himself. Zev had gradually lost respect for the mythical man who became famous for making sad albums about his middle-aged misfortunes. Maybe not unlike Nick Cave, becoming famous had made Zev Bauhaus more miserable than he would have ever imagined. All that time and effort to become caged. One works so hard just to eventually sell out. It made no sense to Zev.

On an almost daily basis Amy would text Zev. She would ask him financial questions or questions about certain bills. Amy had always overseen their finances. She paid all the bills. Zev wanted to have nothing to do with bills or bureaucracy. He needed to focus on his art and Amy agreed to her position as the couple’s accountant. She handled all his studio accounts, expenses and she paid the employees. When Zev vanished onto what Amy started to condescendingly call his boat, he didn’t think to take care of anything having to do with his career. Zev left Amy with the mess. It is what she deserved, Zev thought. Amy had to notify various collectors and dealers that Zev was shutting down shop. She had to give the landlord a month’s notice and take responsibility for closing down the studio. She answered emails and calls from people enquiring about what had happened to Zev. She posted things on social media. Amy even called Marissa to basically tell her she wasn’t needed anymore.

It was difficult for Marissa to talk with Amy on the phone. She had been putting it off all day. A part of her felt responsible for all of this. Maybe she should have kept her mouth closed. But Zev would have found out anyway. It wasn’t her fault. She was in love with him. Always had been and so she did what she felt was best for Zev. She was suffering inside and had been ever since Zev stopped coming around the studio and responding to her texts. When she finally did return Amy’s call, Amy didn’t sound sad or distress at all. Amy sounded uplifted. Almost happy. She told Marissa that she would send her her final check and then once all the final payments for paintings came in she would send her a commissions check. Marissa wanted to ask Amy about Zev. She wanted to ask her how Zev was doing but felt hesitant to indulge someone who was causing Zev so much pain. Amy told Marissa that Zev was finished with painting for now and that he had moved onto his boatin Oxnard. Their conversation was brief and Amy thanked her for all her help. She told Marissa that this is how life went sometimes. After Marissa hung up the phone she chastised herself for not telling Amy that it was horrible and wrong what she was doing to Zev. Marissa was cowardly, always trying to avoid conflict.

Amy liked to think of herself in a particular way. She wanted a lifestyle that was different from the norm. She liked to think of herself as the non-traditional type but she kept falling into more traditional kinds of relationships. Maybe this is why she ended up cheating on every man she was in a serious relationship with. She wasn’t being true to what she wanted and what she wanted was not loyalty to only one man. Amy had fervently read Sade’s Justine. She liked to think of herself as someone who was hopeful, someone with abnormal values, someone who was intelligent and accomplished, someone who was against monogamy, someone who was proudly slutty and bisexual and as someone who didn’t want to be in a traditional relationship ever again. This is what Amy told herself. Now that Zev was gone, she could live closer to her truth. Even though she had to do more work to maintain the house and finances, she felt freed from Zev’s tyranny. Why did she get married in the first place? Amy was happy to clean up Zev’s mess, if it meant that she no longer had to live with that miserable man. But she couldn’t understand why she still missed him and longed to be with him. It didn’t make any sense, so she drank more to help relieve her inner conflict.

 

Sell Out Man, A Blog Novel. Chapter Twenty Eight

Chapter Twenty Eight

 

 

Zev had a stomach ache. Again. He had had a lot of stomach aches over the past months. Zev once prided himself on never getting stomach aches. He had a solid stomach and could digest anything. He could even digest his miserable father if he had to. But his stomach had fallen weak from all the yelling, worrying, accusing and hurting. Now he got stabbing pains in his guts. Sometimes these pains would cause Zev to think he could die. Everything would go blank. It was an sharp pain. A pain that wanted Zev dead. He was getting these stomach aches on an almost daily basis now. He assumed it was all the distress he had been under. But when a person is in the kind of distress Zev was in, pain becomes a constant companion.

Zev hadn’t slept much on his first night on the yacht. Zev rarely slept well is strange environments. His stomach pains kept him up most of the night. There would be a stabbing pain that would last for a few seconds and then it would vanish. Sometimes the pain would be so fierce that Zev would clench his fists and curl into a ball. Once the pain subsided Zev would try and get some sleep but his mind would be racing. His thoughts refused to let him be. They were like rain pouring down. Zev tried to focus his attention on his breathing but that didn’t do any good. It was impossible to get away from his thoughts since they were happening inside his own head. Zev got out of bed and walked around several times. He smoked cigarettes and weed. He looked out into the darkness and wondered if listening to music or the radio would help. He felt waves of anxiety overcome him. Was he going to die alone out here? Was Amy missing him or was she with Arthur? Would everyone hate him for quitting the art world? What was Marissa going to do? He needed to call her back but it was so hard to talk with anyone. At a certain point Zev realized the attempt to sleep was futile. He lay in bed for hours staring into the darkness. The yacht rocked back and forth along with the sea currents and the continual rocking made him dizzy. He could smell a terrible odor. It wasn’t a good night.

While sitting on the toilet in the morning, Zev smoked pot. He had a long wood pipe that he used to smoke marijuana. The high made him feel more awake and less consumed by a feeling of fear, betrayal and heartbreak. He felt his mood enlighten. When he flushed the toilet he smelled the odor fill the entire bathroom. He assumed it must be the sewage. He would have to buy several air fresheners to mitigate the horrible odor. Zev hadn’t brought any coffee with him but he remembered seeing a café not far from his yacht. Zev put on his black jeans and a black sweatshirt along with black socks and black Doc Martins. He put on a black wool coat and a black cap to keep his ears and head warm. He took another hit from his pipe and then ventured out into the cold morning.

Zev wanted to check his phone to see if Amy had texted him. But he told himself to wait. Zev walked down a long pathway mildly populated by people walking their dogs. He avoided saying hello to any of them and wondered how the hell people could live on boats with dogs. There was a large marina that ran all along the pathway and there were hundreds of different kinds of boats. Poor man’s boats and rich man’s yachts. And then there were the old yachts that belonged to those whose tastes were not overly excessive. Many people seemed to live on their boats in Oxnard. Some were outside drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. Zev lit a cigarette and smoked as he walked. He sucked the warm smoke into his lungs. He saw seagulls and seals. Several seals were sprawled out on the docks, resting from a long night spent trying to stay alive.

Terrible music played on the stereo. A young girl appeared from behind the register seeming much too happy for this time of morning. Her smile immediately annoyed Zev but he tried to be nice. He ordered a large black coffee and some eggs and toast. He thought that the young girl would be attractive if she could just stop eating the pastries and lose some weight. The young girl gave Zev his coffee and his change which he told her that she could keep. When she asked him what his name was he told her that it was Zev. She couldn’t quite make sense of the name and asked him if he said Seth. Zev said Zev and the young girl said Zeb. Zev said Zev another time but this time he said it very slowly. When she finally got his name she told him it was a cool name. She never met someone with that name before. He thanked her and wished that she was a bit more attractive. Then maybe he would flirt with her.

Zev sat at a table facing the window. A few seats down from him a man sat scrolling through his phone. He was a big man. A man whose look revealed how dumb he was. He probably lived on a boat and voted for Trump, Zev thought. Whenever the meathead looking man would scroll on a video he would watch it with the sound on high. Zev immediately hated the man. He took sips of his black coffee and tried to hide his disdain for this man. Zev hated people who did this sort of thing in public. People who talked on their phone loudly in public and people who watched videos on their phones with the volume on while in public- these were the lowest kinds of people. Zev hoped that some plague would magically come along and wipe these idiots out. Zev was already mad and it wasn’t even 8am.

There were a few other people in the café scrolling around on their phones. One older man with long gray hair was working on a laptop. Zev felt a tragic sadness in his gut. He checked his phone and saw that there was texts from Marissa, his horrible father, one of his main patrons and Amy. Zev checked the text from Amy first. Amy had written that she hoped he was doing ok and having a good morning. Zev felt bad when he read the text. He wanted to tell her about his horrible stomach pain. He wanted to tell her what a whore he thought she was and he wanted to tell her about how badly she had screwed him over. Now he was alone in some café surrounded by other men who had probably been forsaken by the women they once loved. Was this Zev’s life now? Zev was about to respond to Amy when he heard the young girl call out his name. He raised his hand and she brought him his food. He told her thank you but really meant that he wanted her to quickly get away so he could eat. Zev scrolled on his phone as he quickly shoved food into his mouth. He was no better than those phone addicts he disdained.  He was just as addicted as anyone else but he wanted to get out of that café as quickly as possible.

The morning was spent smoking cigarettes and looking out at the water. Zev thought that he should get the inside of his yacht looking nice. He should clean up and take things out of boxes. There were still things in the U-Haul to be moved. Zev felt exhausted from moving the evening before. There was still more to do. Boxes piled up and things needed to be organized. He should have hired movers. He hadn’t used his muscles like this in a long time. Zev felt his body aching He didn’t want to anything. He wanted to sit there and look out the window all day long. His motivation was gone. Everything had changed. He was alone and on an old yacht by the sea. It still hadn’t really sunk in. Boats went by. People on kayak rowed past. He didn’t like anyone. He was just going to sit there and smoke cigarettes. Resign himself to inertia. He would figure out what he needed to do next later.

 

 

 

Sell Out Man, A Blog Novel. Chapter Twenty Seven.

Chapter Twenty Seven

 

It all happened quickly, almost as if some higher intelligence took control of Zev and shoved him in a different direction. He didn’t have to think much about it. There was no other choice. Zev bought the yacht from the old man and drove to Oxnard to give him cash. The old man was friendly enough. He was going to die soon and he figured it was time for him to get rid of his beloved Sammy. Zev made a mental note to change the name of the yacht. The old man took his time showing Zev around the yacht. He walked with a hunch and a chronic rattle. Zev was a tall man. He had to slightly bend inside the yacht. He could feel the strain on his lower back. The kitchen seemed to be the only space where Zev could stand tall inside the old yacht. There were two downstairs bedrooms and a bathroom. The old man told Zev that the toilet sometimes stunk when you flushed it. But none of it went out into the water, which was good. All fecal and urinary matter would get flushed into a large container beneath one of the bedroom’s beds. Every week or so Zev would have to pay someone to pump out the waste matter so that the container didn’t back up and overflow. It was a real mess when that happened. The old man would give Zev a number of a pump out person. It was just part of boat life, the old man told Zev. The shower worked well.

The old man asked Zev if he would be driving the yacht and Zev told the old man that he had no idea how to steer his own ship let alone another ship. It was meant to be a clever response. The old man didn’t get it and gave Zev an awkward smile. Zev felt like telling the old man that he was going through a separation from his wife. Maybe the old man had something comforting to say. Instead, Zev told the old man that he intended to live on the yacht and not take it out to sea. He would use it as a kind of houseboat. The old man told Zev that that was probably a good idea since Sammy was old and unreliable but would float forever. The old man had already moved all of his things off the yacht, so the yacht was immediately ready for Zev to move in. Zev told the old man that he loved all the large windows that looked out onto the water. And he loved all the redwood paneling and how nicely it had been preserved. The old man told Zev that he loved these things about her as well but it was time for him to go. Every relationship must end, nothing lasts forever he told Zev. Zev wasn’t yet ready to accept this. The old man was happy that a younger man was moving into his girl. He thought they would be a good fit and he gave Zev his blessing. Zev gave the old man the money for his yacht and the old man told Zev to take good care of his girl. Zev assured him he would. When the old man left, Zev noticed he forgot his reading glasses. Zev tried them on, felt a strong magnifying effect and decided he would use them for reading.

Zev sat down on the yachts built in couch. He looked out the window at all the boats and water and space. The sky trailed on forever. He felt a sadness in his chest but he knew that this was the right thing for him to do. He had to move out. Living with Amy was going to kill him. He didn’t want to move out. He didn’t want to lose his house and the company of a beautiful woman. But everything was bad. He was falling to shit. He didn’t even care if his underwear smelled anymore. His finger nails collected dirt. He took a deep breath and could smell the oil from the engine which was under the yacht’s floorboards. Zev looked around the yacht. He was going to live here. It was quiet. He could hear birds and seals. The ocean was far away and he could smell the sea air coming in through the opened windows. He knew that the grief that would come from moving out of his home and away from Amy would be strong. It could be strong enough to kill him and the serenity of living on a boat could help him survive. Zev smoked a cigarette and noticed one of his neighbors looking at him. Zev probably looked like a freak to all these people who wore flip flops and shorts. But like Zev, all the people who came to live on boats wanted to remove themselves from society.

After exploring the area around his yacht, Zev drove back to Silverlake later that afternoon. What should have been an hour and a half drive took almost three hours. Zev didn’t care about the traffic. He smoked cigarettes and listened to Roxy Music. Some of Brian Ferry’s lyrics reminded him of what he was going through. Zev thought about how he would tell Amy. Would she be upset? He didn’t care what she thought and he didn’t care if she felt like he was going to be leaving her hanging with the house. He needed to go. She didn’t want to be with him anymore and she was dating Arthur. To hell with her. He needed to go. This is what Zev Bauhaus kept telling himself as he crawled along in late afternoon Los Angeles traffic. Zev thought about how there were too many people.

When Zev arrived back at his Silverlake home he felt sadness overcome him. This was not his home anymore. He was leaving. The fact that the front yard and the inside of the home were a mess didn’t bother him. It wasn’t his problem anymore. But it felt strange how something that once felt so much a part of him was now just a distant and meaningless thing. When Zev walked into the kitchen he noticed Amy quietly sitting at the kitchen table, typing on her laptop. She had just added purple highlights to her black hair and she was wearing a color of lipstick Zev had not seen before. Zev thought she looked pretty. Amy told Zev that the essay she was editing was horrible and she had to do too much work on it. Zev didn’t care. WORD meant nothing to him. These literary magazines attracted idiot writers like Arthur and Zev wanted to have nothing to do with the trendiness of it all. Zev looked in the refrigerator and drank from an opened a kombucha. He turned around and faced Amy. Amy was annoyed by Zev’s cigarette smell but she continued to smile. She told Zev that he should remember to drink water. Zev didn’t believe that she cared about him.

Zev sat down at the other side of the table. He didn’t want to get too close to Amy. This caught Amy by surprise since Zev didn’t often sit down at the table when she was working. She thought it was strange that Zev hadn’t mentioned anything about how messy the kitchen was. Zev didn’t care. He told Amy that he was moving out. Amy stared at him. She was perplexed. Zev was moving out? Was it really happening? She had been convinced that Zev would never be able to leave. She didn’t know how she was going to get him to move out. She couldn’t kick him out even though the home was legally hers. But she was hoping that Zev would find a way to start his life over again someplace else. Zev of course wasn’t aware of this. He thought Amy would be very sad to see him go.

Zev told Amy about the yacht. He told her about the color and condition of the yacht and he told her how much he paid for it. He told Amy that he needed to do something different. The life he was living had been killing him. If she didn’t want him, he would go. Amy wanted to tell Zev that it wasn’t that way, but she abstained. Things felt like they could be beginning to go in a more positive direction. Amy had never known anyone who lived on a boat. She had never thought much about it. Zev was accustomed to many comforts. How was he going to tolerate living on a boat at the edge of the sea? Amy didn’t think it was a good idea to shut his studio down and quit painting but it wasn’t her problem anymore. She loved Zev and she wanted him to do whatever was going to be best for him. Zev told Amy that he was going to move all his stuff out within the next day or two. Amy asked if she could come visit him once he got settled. Zev felt a pain in his gut because Amy wasn’t resisting. He hoped she would. Zev remembered the old man saying nothing lasts.

Amy struggled to get to sleep that evening. She thought about Zev moving out. Would she have enough money to make it on her own? Should she have Zev pay half the bills? Should he still have to pay for some of the houses expenses? What about their credit card bills that were in her name? She also thought about how she knew that Zev liked Oxnard. Living there might give him some peace and quiet away from the world of art and culture. She knew how hard their breakup and her ensuing affair with Arthur had been on Zev. She felt bad for it and probably would feel bad for it for the rest of her life. But she felt happy that Zev was making a move. It was a good thing for both of them.

Zev rented a small U-Haul truck the following day and filled it with some of his things. He took his Eames lounge chair, record player, speakers, records, desk, desk light, Pendleton blankets, plates, bowls, air filters, pillows, clothes, books, radio and anything else he thought he might need. He also took pens and paper for drawing. Zev didn’t have to burden himself with the move. He could have bought all new things. He could have paid people to move his stuff. But Zev wanted to save as much money as he could since he imagined he would have to give Amy half and live off the rest for a long time to come. He had no idea what he would do for an income once his money ran out. He hadn’t invested in stocks and he hadn’t bought any property. He didn’t want to play that scumbag capitalist game. The money he had was the money he had until he ran out. He assumed he could just auction paintings if he needed to but he really didn’t want to have anything more to do with the mainstream art world.

Amy was nice enough to help Zev move his stuff. They didn’t talk much as they passed each other in the front walk way. Zev was stoned and kept to himself. Amy asked him various questions and Zev gave brief and mumbled answers. Amy knew that Zev was not happy with her. She only hoped that he wouldn’t end up hating her. She was sad to let him go but was looking forward to having the house to herself to live in. Zev had been a miserable man to live with and she felt like she was breaking free from his negative energy. Amy made them some bacon sandwiches for lunch. They ate quietly. Would this be their final meal together? Once they finished loading the truck Zev took a final walk through the house to see if there was anything else he wanted to take. He saw Amy’s $800.00 camera which she never used. He stuck it in the bag he carried. She would never know it went missing, Zev told himself. Besides, she was taking his home from him. It was only fair that he should get the camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sell Out Man, A Blog Novel, Chapter Twenty Six

Chapter Twenty Six

 

 

Zev Bauhaus made a conscious decision to destroy what he built. It wasn’t so much destruction as it was letting things fall apart. He didn’t want to be a painter anymore and he didn’t want to continue to live the life he was living. He felt stuck and he needed to make a change. One can only resist change long enough until the body starts to collapse under the pressure of resistance. He had not been returning Marissa’s phone calls and he didn’t fulfill obligations to the galleries he was supposed to have shown at. Zev Bauhaus completely disappeared from the art world at a time when his career was in its greatest stage. Zev Bauhaus had become a famous contemporary painter and now he wasn’t fulfilling his responsibilities towards that career. No one could get in touch with him. Several people who had commissioned him for paintings were leaving angry messages. Marissa’s only communication with Zev was through text.

Zev didn’t care. He had become apathetic about almost everything. He didn’t want to do any of it anymore. He had enough of that life. Now that Amy was with another man and didn’t want to be married anymore, what was the point of anything? Most of what he did he did to support their lifestyle. The marriage gave him a reason to keep doing the things he was doing. But he hated being a successful painter. He hated what he had become even though he could now afford nice things. The thing about selling out is that you have to talk to people you would never want to talk with if you didn’t have to. You have to behave in ways that you wouldn’t if you didn’t have to. When a man sell out he agrees to pretend. He agrees to become a fake because he is not able to make it as the man he wants to be. Zev hated this about his job. He hated having to talk enthusiastically on the phone with various curators, gallery owners and private buyers. He hated the hands he had to shake and the smile he had to wear on his face. It caused Zev to loath himself. Now he had the opportunity to get out. There wasn’t much point in going on. But he was afraid. He was afraid of being unstable and alone.

Zev texted with Marissa telling her to keep the studio going as long as she could. He would pay her to send out the final commissions and wrap things up. But he wanted the studio completely shut down within two months. He wasn’t going to paint anymore. He didn’t know what he was going to do but he wasn’t going to paint. He was just trying to stay alive at this point. His body was already beginning to reject him. The stress had caused his rash to be reoccurring. He had developed a buzzing sensation all over his body, which refused to go away. He was tired all the time and there were shooting pains in his stomach more. Zev had been suffering for a long time but this elevation in his suffering was wearing him down. He could only cope with so much. He tried to lift his mood by going to see a Godspeed You! Black Emperor concert. But it only depressed him further. It was strange to be there alone. He didn’t like not having Amy to share the experience with. He cried. What a pathetic man Zev Bauhaus had become.

Zev decided to take a drive to Oxnard. Amy was gone. She didn’t work at home as much anymore. She was out a lot more. He felt like she was intentionally trying to avoid him. That it was unpleasant to be around him. The house was a mess but Zev didn’t care. He didn’t see his house as his house anymore. It was Amy’s house now. There was a strange detachment between himself and the place he used to call home. He walked through the home like a ghost. None of it felt real.  On his way to Oxnard he stopped at a café and got a double cappuccino. When he used the bathroom to take a piss he noticed he looked like a bum. His hair was a mess and he hadn’t shaved in months. It was his new grunge style. An I don’t care but still care kind of style. He wore all black and his sixty-dollar t-shirt had a hole in it. He picked up his cappuccino and walked through a crowd of bumbling idiots to get to his car. This was the advantage to being a famous contemporary painter- no one knew who you were when out in public.

When Zev got out to his car he noticed that he left his door unlocked and forgot to take the keys out of the ignition. He called himself an idiot as he backed his car out of the parking lot. He drove and smoked a cigarette as he drank his cappuccino. It was sunny but he didn’t have sunglasses on. He loved how the mixture of coffee and cigarettes tasted. He listened to Outside The Dream Syndicate as he drove and he thought about all the ways that Amy could be deceiving him. What didn’t he know about? How was it that she didn’t want to be with him anymore? It just didn’t make any sense. They had such a good life together. How could she want to be with this guy Arthur? He was a literary nerd. It didn’t make any sense. Zev checked his phone to see if Amy had texted him. This depressed him since Amy didn’t text him. He didn’t know it then but this would become a regular part of his life. Waiting for texts from Amy. Getting depressed when a day would go by without any texts from her. Zev Bauhaus didn’t have any friends. He surrendered all his friendships for his career and for his marriage. He didn’t get many texts now that Amy had slowed down on texting him. His phone was becoming an hourly reminder of his isolation.

It was sunny in Oxnard. Zev wasn’t sure why he had come. It was a quiet town. People loafing around and fishing boats slowly moving out to sea. Zev liked the tranquility of the place. There was the smell of fish and salt water in the air. Zev walked around looking at boats and birds and everything else that made its way into his field of vision. He walked down to the beach and stood in front of the ocean. The expansiveness of the ocean made him feel better. His problems seemed irrelevant in comparison. Nothing mattered except the present moment when standing in front of the sea. Oxnard felt like a strange place to Zev. The kind of place where David Lynch could film a movie. It was a quiet beach town where you could go to be forgotten. And it was only an hour or so drive from downtown LA where everyone was trying to be known. Zev sat on a bench and smoked. He looked out over an inlet with various people fishing from the rocks. It was a bit chilly out but the sky was devoid of almost all clouds. Zev Bauhaus thought about what he was going to do with his life. He didn’t want to do anything. He couldn’t believe that he and Amy were over. They had died. He felt sick inside.

As Zev walked along one of the marinas he noticed an old wood yacht for sale. The yacht looked like it was from the fifties or sixties. Old and worn down by time and salt water. The white paint was chipping away and some of the wood seemed to be rotting. Zev walked as close to the yacht as he could but he couldn’t get into the area where the boats were parked because of a locked gate. Inside the yacht it looked like there was a lot of mahogany or redwood. The yacht looked like it refused to lose its dignity and it floated with grace and class. It could be the perfect place for him to live. He knew that people lived on boats. Why couldn’t he do that? He had never lived on a boat before. He didn’t know the first thing about boats. But he thought that an old yacht would be a good enough place for him to restart. How much could it possibly cost to live on a boat? He had a good enough amount of money in his bank. Zev took a close look at the For Sale sign. It said the yacht was $20,000. That wasn’t bad. Less then he would have thought. Zev wrote down the phone number.

On his way back to Silverlake he thought about living on the old yacht. He saw himself as a kind of old man living on the sea. He could retreat from the world and live off the grid. He could start a new life while living on a boat. Draw his cartoons, make the paintings he wanted to make, read, listen to music and maybe write a novel. It would become a good way for him to hide out from the world. No one would be able to find him. He could disappear from his current life. Being by the ocean calmed him. He had always envied people who lived close to the ocean. He felt like he breathed better in the salt water air. It didn’t relieve his depression but it was nice breathing fresher air. Zev hadn’t called anyone in months but he called the number that was on the For Sale sign. He made an appointment to see the old yacht with the man who currently owned it. The man had owned the boat since it was brand new. It was a 1959 Chris Craft. Zev assumed the man was very old.

Zev was stuck in traffic. But he didn’t care this time. He smoked weed and thought about the yacht. Amy texted Zev asking if he wanted to have dinner. She would make something. He was happy to hear from her. It was strange to Zev that Amy still wanted to cook him dinner, would still have sex with him if he wanted to and was still generally friendly towards him. It gave Zev the impression that she was unsure about not wanting to be with him. Maybe he still had a chance to get her back. But when a woman makes up her mind it is like a name written into dried concrete. The decision is there for good. A woman rarely decides to retract her rejection of a man. She is nice only because of her guilt. She feels bad for what she is putting the heartbroken man through and gives her body and favors in a futile attempt to compensate for the pain she has caused. Women are by nature nurturers they say. This must mean that they feel responsible when they see someone they love in pain. Amy still did things for Zev not because she was interested in him or indecisive about her decision to separate but because she felt bad about the man Zev had become as a result of her not wanting to be with him anymore.

Sell Out Man, Chapter Twenty Five

Chapter Twenty Five

 

It’s not easy falling into nothing. Nothingness takes over and refuses to release its grip. It holds you tightly between its black fingers. During Amy’s absence, Zev was gripped by nothingness. But he wasn’t threatened by it. He embraced it. Leaned into it. It was a nothingness that was permeated by a pervasive sense of pleasurable inertia. It was a kind of nihilistic Buddhist emptiness. Zev reached states of complete atrophy by not moving much and smoking copious amounts of weed. Zev finally suffered the final blow of his depression. He had withered. Zev wouldn’t shower for days. He wore the same clothes. He walked slowly down hallways with his hand in the back of his pants. Sometimes he walked around with his hand down the front of his pants, fondling his limp penis. He had fallen apart.

Zev thought about nothing but Amy. He thought about how much she was deceiving him. He thought about how betrayed he felt. He thought about what he thought she was doing. There was an elaborate idea in his brain that she was very in love with Arthur but she was keeping the extent of her feelings from him. She loved Arthur, Zev was sure of it. The thoughts about how deceived he felt kept him up at night. It’s like being knocked over the back of the head without knowing. You didn’t see it coming. You’re startled and trying to come back into your senses but the pain stifles you. Zev couldn’t believe that Amy had done this to him. Amy had become one of those deceptive women and he was the one with a broken heart. Deceived by the woman he loved. How could this happen at the height of his career?

Zev would sit in his backyard garden and smoke cigarettes. His thoughts were all crumpled together like a piece of crunched up binder paper. Zev had stopped rolling his own cigarettes because it had gotten too hard. Now he smoked the ones that come in a pack. It only made him smoke more and when he showed up at the liquor store to buy more cigarettes for the second time that day, he looked like some aged nineties shoegazer who refused to outgrow his youth. You don’t see many of those often. When back at home he would pass the day smoking cigarettes in the backyard. He couldn’t concentrate much. He was running from everything. He couldn’t even handle the burden of rolling cigarettes. There were moments when Zev was so high when he wondered if he had gone insane. Had the shock of Amy’s betrayal knocked him over into some mentally ill realm? Had he lost his mind? He was ignoring everything and thinking continuously. He was playing with his cock too much and started talking to himself. The music he listened to was music made by madmen. It sounded like walking on hands and knees through underground tunnels. One album he had on repeat was Tape Loop Meditations by Blood Stereo. The sound matched his inner state.

Zev lost track of time. He ate when he wanted to. His nothingness had become him. The marijuana cushioned him within a cotton like numbness. There was no world out there. Marijuana freed him from the ordinary and banal constraints of his mind. It made sounds tunnel through his ears and magnify in his head. It made bats fly in front of his face even though they weren’t really there. There was the continual sound of squishing a wet rag in the background. Zev couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe spirits were talking with him. Had the same thing happened to him that happened to Artaud? Zev would hallucinate images of Amy sucking Arthur’s cock and Amy taking it from behind. Just like he had watched through binoculars during their home sex shows. Zev saw vaginas and he desperately wanted to stick his mouth on one. When stoned he became possessed by an erotic urge and ended his torment by masturbating in the bathroom while watching Pornhub. He had his food and weed delivered and bought beer and cigarettes at the liquor store. Zev knew that nothing would ever be the same for him.

When Amy entered the house, she was startled by the smell of cigarettes and marijuana. She heard strange sounds coming from Zev’s home studio. She wasn’t surprised that Zev was still there. She knew he wouldn’t leave. Where would he go? She put her bags down and checked her phone to see if Arthur had texted even though they were just together. She then looked in the refrigerator for something to drink. She wasn’t happy to be home. She felt like she was back in the drudgery. It was incredibly difficult living around Zev. He was getting in the way of her joy and becoming an imposition. Why couldn’t he get his life together? Why couldn’t he accept that most marriages don’t last forever and move on with his life? He had the money. When Amy knocked on Zev’s door he was startled. He yelled as if his home was under attack. Amy told Zev that it was just her. Zev had lost track of the day. He had lost track of time. He didn’t expect Amy but he jumped off the couch and told her to come in. He walked over and gave her a hug. Amy hugged Zev back.

Zev was happy that Amy was home. He had missed her immensely without knowing the nothingness he had been experiencing was a result of the grief consuming him during Amy’s absence. And to some extent Amy missed Zev. She wasn’t unhappy hugging him. She looked around the studio which was a mess. Records everywhere. Books on the floor. Cups filled with dead cigarettes and ash on the floor. Zev’s hair was a mess and he was dressed in black sweat pants and a black t-shirt with ash stains on it. He wore black wool socks which had a hole in one of the toes. The room reeked of tobacco and weed. Amy asked Zev why he couldn’t go outside to smoke. The patio door was right there. He told Amy that he was too lazy and Amy knew he wasn’t in good shape. But she didn’t want to be inconvenienced. She was in a good mood. Zev Bauhaus was a grown man and could figure himself out. He wasn’t her problem anymore. Amy told Zev that he should take a shower.

Zev had set up a bed in his home studio. He and Amy no longer slept together. His home studio had become his bedroom and their bedroom had now become Amy’s bedroom. She made the bedroom her own by bringing in more plants and hanging art she liked on the walls. She moved the bed to a different location. While Amy was putting her clothes away into her closet and drawers Zev walked in. He sat down on the bed and used a towel to dry his hair. Amy asked him if the shower was nice. Zev asked Amy about her trip and Amy didn’t have much to say. She told Zev that she had a good time. That she had a lot of fun. Zev felt angry but tried to keep it down. He wanted to ask about her and Arthur but he kept it to himself. He wanted to get along with Amy tonight. Maybe they could watch a movie or something. Amy made them something to eat and they sat at the kitchen table together. They didn’t talk much. Zev told her that he hadn’t been doing anything. Amy agreed to watch a movie and said that sounded nice. They watched the The Joker on Amy’s bed, the bed Zev had slept on for years. But now he had been exiled from his bed and his previous life. He would sleep in this bed no more. The organic mattress that he and Amy had bought together was now hers. He was sleeping on a shit mattress from Ikea and had lost the right to sleep in what was once his marital bed.

As Amy and Zev watched The Joker with their backs propped up against the wall, Zev thought about asking Amy if she wanted to have sex. He wanted to stick his dick inside her. He had a pulsating erection. But he got the sense that Amy wasn’t into it and he didn’t feel very attractive. He felt embarrassed being the only one in this pathetic shape. Amy seemed to be doing fine. Maybe she didn’t ever love him as much as he thought she did. Amy fell asleep halfway through the film. It was three hours later for her and she was all sexed out. Zev turned off the television and then shut Amy’s door. He went into the bathroom and masturbated into the sink before struggling to fall asleep.

Sell Out Man, Chapter Twenty Four

 

 

Amy was going away for three nights. To New York for the publication party of The Fantastic Nobody Life Of A Disappearing Man. Arthur and her had finished their work together and now the book was ready for readers. During the last stage of their editing work, Arthur would have his hand on Amy’s tit or he would try and reach down her pants and get a finger in her cunt. Sometimes Amy would purposefully lean over the table so that Arthur could grab her ass with his hand. They worked and played. Worked and played. Amy would reach for Arthur’s cock as they read through the manuscript. She would gently jack him off without unbuttoning his pants. Her nipples would be erect and his dick hard during most of the time they worked together. Sexual pleasure relieves the pain and boredom of work. It felt like they were back in high school.

There would be a party at the Ritz Carlton. There would be a lecture at NYU and at The New School. There would be a few independent bookstore readings which ended up having small lines out the door. Arthur’s career was looking up and he was making his way towards the pinnacle of popularity with younger intellectual and liberal readers. It was an exciting time for him. He was discovering a kind of confidence he hadn’t felt before. He seemed to be receiving a good amount of recognition as a writer and a very attractive and prominent editor was in love with him. He assumed he must be doing something right. Amy felt better than she felt in a long time. The stress of her and Zev felt gone. She was elated that she could contribute to Arthur’s success. It was a high to watch him prevail as a writer. This is what Amy loved most about love. She loved receiving the adoration, devotion and control that came from helping the object of her love to become a better person. This is what she did best. It’s how she won over a person without them ever seeing the cruelty and selfishness that lived inside of her.

Amy didn’t tell Zev exactly why she was going to New York. She said it was for work and that she had to attend to publication parties. It wasn’t an absolute lie. When Zev asked her if the publication parties were for Arthur’s book she told him that one of them was. She could tell that Zev was furious about this and she assured him that it was not a romantic vacation. She was not sharing a room with Arthur. She didn’t even know if she would see him. They would be working most of the time and Arthur was going to be very busy. Zev hated Arthur. Arthur was getting in his way. He hated what he was becoming because of Arthur. He considered asking Amy to swear on her life that she wasn’t going to be sharing a room with Arthur but he decided not to. He was certain that Amy would be with Arthur more than she was telling him. Amy would lie about anything to avoid conflict. She liked to have her own secrets. Her secrets turned her on. They turned Zev on as well. Before Amy left, Zev turned her around and pulled down her pants and underwear. He forced her onto their bed because he could. Amy rested her arms on her suitcase, which was open on the bed. Zev was fully erect before he could get his pants off. When he stuck his dick inside Amy she was already wet. He didn’t have to try. The resentment and bitterness between them was enough to make her horny. Zev fucked Amy from behind for a few minutes. He called her a slut. A little lying slut, is what he said. Amy agreed with him. She told him that she was a little whore. She couldn’t help it. She stuck out her tongue and Zev caught a glimpse of it from the side. She kept calling herself a whore and a little slut. She loved being penetrated. Zev orgasmed deep inside of her. All his seminal fluid was emptied out into the deepest parts of her. Zev fell back into the chair and Amy fell flat on the suitcase. Zev didn’t care if Amy had orgasmed or not. He never really did.

Zev pulled up his pants and Amy turned around. He asked her if she wanted a towel and she said no thanks. She said she liked the idea of traveling to New York with cum in her. Zev told her to do as she wished. He had fucked her not because he loved her but because he was completely turned on by how slutty she was. She was the whore he always wanted. Amy tried to hug Zev before she left but Zev pulled back. He knew she was going to New York with Arthur. That bitch. He told her that he would be gone when she got back. He would find some other place to stay. It was not right what she was doing with Arthur. It was cruel and unfair. How could she think it was ok to go to New York with Arthur? How could she think that doing so would not end their marriage? Amy wasn’t happy that Zev would be gone when she came back but she understood. She knew this was the risk she was taking. She would figure out the financial aspects of things later. Amy told Zev that she wanted him to do whatever he needed to do to take care of himself. Zev turned around and walked away before Amy was out the door and he felt bad about it. What if she died in a plane crash? Their final moment together would be him turning away from her as she left. So much love in the beginning and so much despair at the ending. The thought pained him. Amy took an Uber to Arthur’s apartment and Arthur and Amy travelled to New York together.

Random House was trying to attract a younger and more intellectual consumer base. They were publishing more hip, young writers. Intellectual and nerdy types. Writers obsessed with gender terms, race relations, sexual equality and pretending to be weirder than they were. Arthur’s book of essays was expected to be a big seller for Random House. He was going to be the new Bret Easton Ellis. They had high hopes for Arthur’s book so they paid him quit a lot for the rights to his book. They also paid for two first class tickets to New York and a five night stay at The Ritz Carleton. Amy and Arthur felt like they made it in the literary world. This was it. On the plane ride, they slept covered in soft wool blankets and they drank top shelf liquor. Arthur wasn’t a big drinker but he couldn’t resist the Hendrick’s Gin Amy kept ordering. They watched episodes of The Office, laughed and Amy kept her hand on Arthur’s cock for a lot of the way. It made them both less nervous.

Arthur and Amy shared the same room at The Ritz Carlton. They did almost everything together. It was as if they were attached by a string. Amy wanted to be there with Arthur and Arthur wanted Amy there. They went to investigate areas were Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground hung out. They went by the spot were CBGB used to be. They walked around Greenwich Village. They walked around Times Square and went into one of the last remaining sex shops with a porn movie theatre inside. They ate in seedy Asian restaurants and ate fast food. Amy went to Arthurs various readings and lectures. She went to cocktail parties with him. She went to the publication party at the Ritz and was by Arthur’s side the entire time. Everyone assumed that Arthur and Amy were together and many wondered about what had happened with Zev Bauhaus. But nobody asked her and Amy had forgotten that she was even married. Zev wasn’t texting her and she wasn’t about to text him. She removed her ring in the Uber before getting to Arthur’s apartment. This was time for Arthur and Amy to be together. Zev Bauhaus spent most of his time home alone. He didn’t go anywhere.

It’s The Only Way I Will Write This Novel

I have paid someone to come and point a gun at me. I am paying him $60.00 a session to keep the gun pointed at me until I finish a chapter. I have instructed this gun pointer that I must write one chapter while he is here. This means I must write it, edit it and then post it on my blog. If I am not able to do all of this for any reason, I have instructed the gun owner to shoot me. I have also instructed him to come shoot me if he does not hear from me in seven days in a row because that means I quit writing the novel (I had to pay him an advance for this). It’s the only way I will write this novel.

 

Every time I want the gun pointer to come and point his gun at me, I just need to send him a text and give him about an hour or so. When he does get here I have a chair prepared for him. He likes where I have placed the chair because it gets a lot of sun as he sits pointing his gun at me. The chair is a comfortable chair, which I have placed right besides my desk. I have no idea what kind of gun he points at me. It seems to be a different one each week. Today he had a shotgun but I don’t know the make. So far I have spent over two thousand dollars on this project. I presume I will spend at least a thousand more. It’s the only way I will write this novel.

 

The gun pointer asked me if it bothered me that he was just sitting there pointing a gun at me as I typed. I told him that it didn’t bother me much. By chapter eleven I had gotten used to his presence. The gun pointer does smoke and so do I, so that works out well. The gun pointer keeps asking me how much longer I will need him for. I tell him I don’t know. I need his presence for however long it takes. He needs to be here when I text. It’s the only way I will write this novel.

 

I’ve explained to the gun pointer that writing a novel is very challenging work for me. It exhausts me and takes just about everything I have. Even writing and editing three or four pages. I assume this is because of the subject matter of Sell Out Man. It is a difficult novel to write. I tell the gun pointer that if he is not here I will do everything I can to avoid writing this novel. I will kayak around. I will organize. I will go for walks. I will look at naked photos of women on Twitter. I will read. I will sleep. I will give in to my resistance and that is why I need him here. I have a story to tell that I don’t really want to tell but need to tell. It’s the only way I will write this novel.

 

I think the gun pointer thinks I am nuts. Maybe I am. Maybe I have lost my mind. I don’t really know. Maybe a writer needs to lose their mind to write a decent novel. I don’t even know if my novel is any good but I continue to write. I have a story to tell and if I don’t tell it now I never will. This is the essence of all good literature, I tell the gun pointer. He tells me that he is a simple man. He lives on his boat with his dog. He doesn’t get involved in these kind of affairs. I tell him that is ok. He is probably better off and I appreciate his presence. I need him to want to be here. It’s the only way I will write this novel.

 

He’s doing it for the money, he tells me. He could care less about me. I am already a has been. I mean nothing to this world. Who care about novels like Sell Out Man. What a waste of time. Why not do something more productive and useful? Sometimes I think he dislikes me enough to shoot me. I get slightly concerned but that is ok. It’s the only way I will write this novel.

Sell Out Man, Chapter Twenty Three

 

Chapter Twenty Three

 

 

A famous contemporary painter who suddenly disappears from the art scene can’t escape the scrutiny of the public for long. People were taking notice of Zev Bauhaus’s absence. In the quarterly art journal Art Texta brief article was written about how Zev Bauhaus no longer had the prestige he once did. The article exposed the cancellation of several of Zev’s upcoming shows. This article brought more attention to Zev. Not the kind of attention anyone would want. In The Sokal Hoax, a literary and art magazine, the prominent cultural critic Dorothy Niken wrote a scathing article about how Zev Bauhaus had been partly responsible for shaping the work of so many contemporary abstract painters but that he no longer held that elevated position anymore. She wrote about how the quality of Zev’s work had been in steep decline over the years and now with his disappearance from the art world he had exposed himself as the burnout he had become. The article was called A Fall From Abstract Grace.

There was an article written in Higher Superstition, a very hip cultural magazine, which suggested that Zev Bauhaus was a scapegoat being used to divert attention away from the sad state of contemporary abstract art. Marissa read these various articles but Zev did not. He didn’t care and he didn’t want to know. Why would he care about such things when his life was falling apart? Zev didn’t understand then, and he wouldn’t understand for a long time, that his life was falling apart because he could not stop obsessing about Amy and what she had done to him. Zev had forgotten about himself. He had ceased all forms of exercise and didn’t care about what he ate. His quality of dress greatly declined. He no longer cared if he wore the same black jeans for days in a row and didn’t take much time combing his hair. He often neglected shaving. The times that Zev did come into the studio, Marissa noticed how shitty he looked. He had lost weight and looked like a skeleton of his former self. Marissa couldn’t help feeling responsible for this. Something in her knew that Zev Bauhaus was on the verge of closing the studio. He would retreat into some other world and it was her fault. But Zev would be free and she couldn’t help but see this as an opportunity.

Marissa was masturbating more frequently. Work at the studio had become more languorous and dull. Zev wasn’t working much anymore and there was nothing to do. Unfinished paintings stood around like forgotten relics. She would come home at night, make herself dinner and read while on her couch. It happened every time. As she read she would gradually start to pleasure herself. She couldn’t read for more than ten minutes without putting her fingers on her wet pussy. She had been feeling unusually horny but assumed it was because she was not getting laid. It was better that she was pleasuring herself than dealing with some guy. Guys were so much work. As she ran her fingers through her pussy she would visualize Zev. Why Zev? He looked terrible. In her mind she would see him in his disheveled and degenerate state and this turned her on. She liked guys who looked beaten up and grungy. It was a cool nineties look. She would imagine Zev on top, vigorously penetrating her as she looked up at him. Or she would visualize herself giving Zev oral sex and this imagine almost always made her cum. She was certain he had a nice penis. Why was she so obsessed with Zev? Especially now in his miserable state. Was something wrong with her? After Marissa orgasmed she would brush her teeth and fall asleep alone in bed. Sometimes she thought she might die this way.

Zev and Amy spent Saturday together. They drove into the industrial section of the Arts District in Downtown LA and tried out a new outdoor bar. There were cactuses and fire pits everywhere. People could smoke there. Zev ordered an IPA and Amy ordered a cocktail. They sat under an umbrella, listened to the music being played and didn’t talk much to each other. There was a palpable tension between them but they were trying to do something fun together. They both smoked cigarettes and drank their first drinks quickly. Amy got up and bought them another round. The alcohol buzz was gradually loosening them up and they started to talk. Not about anything in particular. Just about bullshit. But Zev was angry. It was hard for him to casually talk with Amy. He felt like she should be making more of an effort to be affectionate with him considering what she was putting him through. She wasn’t holding his hand. She wasn’t rubbing his back. She wasn’t giving him a kiss. There was a real distance between them that he didn’t like. He was sure she wasn’t like this with Arthur.

When Zev was angry at Amy she had no desire to be affectionate with him. She was repelled by him. Amy knew that if she made more of an effort to be affectionate with Zev he would gradually loosen up. But she didn’t want to make the effort. She wasn’t that concerned with Zev anymore. She wasn’t going to try and alleviate his anger by doing things she didn’t want to do. It was up to Zev to be more loving with her. Zev assumed that Amy’s lack of affection was the result of it all going towards Arthur. Zev bought the next round of drinks and they ordered food from a food truck that was parked outside the bar. They ate in silence. Amy was disgusted by the chewing sounds that Zev made. It made her feel rage inside. Amy couldn’t wait to go home. She went to the bathroom for an unusually long time. Zev was convinced she was texting with Arthur and felt insulted that she would do this while out with him.

In the car ride home, they were both on the verge of drunkenness. Zev blew smoke out of the driver’s side window and played Tony Conrad’s Ten Years Alive On the Infinite Plain. Amy couldn’t stand this kind of long-durational, minimalistic music. What was the point? Zev would tell her that it was therapeutic. It put the brain in a contemplative state. But Amy was always too much on the go. She was a quick girl, racing through life. She needed more melody and tempo. Zev smoked marijuana as he drove on the highway back to their Silverlake home. He was upset that Amy still wasn’t paying much attention to him. She didn’t even talk to him about his dwindling career. She didn’t seem to show much concern about his declining health. She didn’t show much interest in him at all. Thoughts like these ran through Zev’s head and he couldn’t help but tell Amy once again that he knew she was in love with Arthur. He knew that she was in that bathroom for a long time because she was texting with her dishrag boyfriend. Zev was wrong. She had been taking naked selfies in the hip bathroom to send to Arthur at a later time.

Once they arrived back at the house, while standing in the living room, Amy told Zev that she couldn’t take it anymore. She wanted out of the marriage. They needed to separate. Something needed to change. Zev Bauhaus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was shocked that Amy wanted to leave him. He stayed with her after her transgressions. Her lack of loyalty infuriated him. The one woman he was certain he would grow old with was telling him she wanted a divorce. How could this be? He knew it was because she was leaving him to be with Arthur. Amy was leaving him for another man. This was a thought that was impossible for Zev to comprehend. It caused cracks to form in his bones. It caused restrictions in his arteries. Most oxygen left his body and he flew into a rage. He called Amy a fucking bitch and a whore. He told her that he hoped she died. He would be better off if she was just dead. He kicked the living room coffee table piled with art books into the air. He was throwing a temper tantrum. Amy was mortified to hear that Zev wanted her dead. Was her life at risk? Zev walked quickly into his home studio and slammed the door. Things fell off the walls. Amy broke down in tears in the living room. Of course Zev didn’t want her dead. He was just very hurt and said things he didn’t mean. How else could he hurt her back?

Zev’s heart was beating fast and deliberately. What was he going to do? Amy was leaving him for a younger man. That bitch. He sat down in his Eames recliner and lit a cigarette. He smoked it quickly and lit another one. His mind was racing and he couldn’t focus. He was worried that he might have a panic attack. His eye site was pixelating and Zev did the only thing he knew how to do to calm himself when on the verge of a panic attack. He took out his cock and started masturbating. Thankfully he was alone.