Sell Out Man, Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

 

Zev Bauhaus was continually trapped inside his head. He was always planning and scheming ways out of his current situation. He would obsess over people he felt were wronging him and he would think about all the things he had done wrong. It was a continual tornado of a negative analysis of himself and the world. Even though Zev’s San Francisco show was a success he still felt miserable. Big deal that he had sold paintings to rich people. Big deal that a musician who made terrible music owned his work. Big deal that technology icons who were destroying human freedom as we knew it had his paintings hanging on their wall. He was making work for a class of people he could not stand. The fact that these people loved his work meant nothing to him. He wanted to make work for the deviant and disenfranchised. He wanted his audience to be made up of countercultural visionaries and solitary outcasts. He had no interest in the people he was currently making art for.

Zev thought about ways he could escape into a new kind of life. He and Amy could move to Oxnard or Iceland. They could start living a different kind of life together. Their current Silverlake home put a lot of pressures on them. The house was a lot of work to maintain and their current lifestyle seemed out of balance with Zev’s deeper values. The nice clothes, cars, furniture, food and beauty products were enjoyable but Zev felt like he didn’t need them anymore. The life he was living felt hypocritical and out of balance. Even staying in this high-end hotel in San Francisco didn’t feel right to Zev. But Amy seemed happy in this life. She was living the bourgeoisie hipster life that she wanted. She liked the nice clothes and the expensive beauty products. She liked being able to liberally spend two or three hundred dollars every time she went to the market. She liked having a clean, well-organized and high design home to live in. Zev didn’t see how he could convince Amy to live a more off–the-grid minimal life.

Zev thought about other ways he could make a living. Maybe he would stop being an artist and write a novel. With a name like his he was sure he could get something published. Or maybe he could focus on his cartoons and gradually make a minimal living that way. He had enough money in the bank to buy himself time. He could have the time to figure things out if he decided to quit painting. Zev wanted to live a life that felt more congruent with his values. Values like anarchy, truth, trust, deviance and authenticity got repressed in Zev’s current role. As a famous contemporary painter, he had to be disingenuous a lot of the time. He didn’t trust anyone in the art world and he harshly judged most of the people who bought his work. It would be fair to say that he hated them. Zev was following certain rules that prevented him from being free and authentic and as a result Zev felt miserable. He felt shoved into some sort of tight box from which there was no escape. All he could do was fill the box with nice things and work.

Amy didn’t want to hear about Zev’s misery anymore. Whenever he would talk with her about how much he felt his life sucked and how much he hated his job Amy resented him. She wanted him to shut up. She thought he was such a drag. Zev had a nice life all around him. He was lucky to have a beautiful and kinky wife and live in such a nice place (the he didn’t even have to buy). His refrigerator was filled with good food and he had a highly modern studio in which to paint. He even had a sauna in his studio that he never used. Amy thought Zev was just an unhappy man. He would be unhappy in any situation he was in. Even if they moved to Oxnard or Iceland, Zev would still be the miserable person he is now. Amy thought Zev had become pathetic. A sorry excuse for a human being. He couldn’t enjoy what he had and Amy had less and less tolerance to hear about it.

Amy was happy that Zev had cheated on her that night. It concerned her that Zev’s act of infidelity made her feel relieved. It probably wasn’t a good thing that she was feeling this way. She knew that if Arthur did the same thing she would be upset even though their relationship was an open one. But with Zev she almost encouraged it. Why? Maybe it helped her to feel better about the things she was doing. Maybe it was the hope that Zev would gradually sabotage their marriage and then she wouldn’t have to be the one to end things. The fact that Zev cheated and probably cheated many times before made her feel like she could distance herself from Zev and move closer towards Arthur. It made her feel less bad about falling in love with another man.

The next morning Amy texted Arthur that she had had sex with a guy in a porno booth the night before and was thinking of him while the guy screwed her. She sent him a selfie that she took of her in the porno booth with her legs spread exposing her full vagina. She had both hands pushing up against her tits. Arthur responded immediately telling Amy that that she was such a sexy and slutty bitch. All night long he had been tormented with the thought of Amy and to hear that while he was suffering she was having sex in a porno booth with some guy really turned him on. Why did this turn him on? He should be furious but instead was overwhelmed with lust. It must be the jealousy, which Arthur knew was the strongest aphrodisiac in the world. Arthur text Amy back that he couldn’t wait to fuck her and cum all over her bitch face. He sent her a dick pic. Amy loved it and replied that soon he would have the opportunity. She told Arthur that she missed him and couldn’t wait to be with him again.

On their final day in San Francisco Zev and Amy went by the gallery and finalized all the business dealings. The gallery gave Zev a check for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It felt like a strong chunk of change in his hands. They then went out to lunch and spent the afternoon roaming around the Mission district and Nob Hill. They went back to their hotel room and took a nap. Zev couldn’t sleep so he smoked a cigarette on the balcony and watched daytime television in bed while Amy slept. When Amy woke up she took a shower and got dressed for dinner and the sex club. Zev watched Amy walk around naked and thought about what a beautiful body she had. Why didn’t he desire her more? Why did he need to go with her to sex clubs in order to get off? Why couldn’t he just be satisfied with having regular sex with her and then fall asleep in bed together just like everyone else does? Zev showered and got dressed. He wore black jeans, black boots, a black sweatshirt and a black jean jacket with a Sisters Of Mercy and Germs pin on it. Zev smoked a lot of weed before they left the hotel room.

When Zev was stoned Amy enjoyed his company. He was actually a stupid and spacey pleasure to be around. He no longer talked about the misery of his life but instead talked about philosophical theories, ideas, sexual degeneracy and all sorts of other strange and eccentric stuff. He was kind of like the man she had first met him as. He laughed a lot and was a lot less mean to Amy. He didn’t criticize her and he even desired her more. Amy did all she could to convince Zev that it was good that he was stoned most of the time. She felt that some people just needed to be stoned every minute of every day to be less angry, critical and depressed. She thought Zev was one of them.

After an expensive and drunken dinner at one of the best Italian food restaurants in San Francisco, Zev and Amy went to a few bars. They drank vodka martinis and smoked cigarettes. Several times people came up to Zev and told him how much they appreciated his art. They looked like yuppies. Higher class people. The freaks never approached him. But when Zev was out having a good time he seemed to appreciate the appreciation others showed him. Once it was late enough Amy and Zev took a taxi to the sex club they had heard so much about.

The Power Exchange was located in a seedier section of the Tenderloin. The streets were dark and it looked as if zombies wondered aimlessly around. People slept in doorways and all kinds of junk littered the streets. The Power Exchange was a famous sex club. It was a pervert’s paradise. The club had originally opened as a BDSM club but gradually morphed into a degenerate hangout for sexual deviants, transsexuals, swingers and habitual masturbators of all kinds. You paid a fee in the front and then walked into a dark facility that had many different levels and themed rooms. There was a large stage with different colored lights flashing, a disco ball and several stripper poles. Bad deep house music played through the speakers. Transvestites hung around on the stage and seduced the men who masturbated down below. As soon as Zev and Amy walked into the club, Amy was drawn towards the stage. She loved the bizarre and exhibionistic nature of it all. She told Zev to hang onto her purse and she went on stage and danced around. Zev wondered around the club checking out the different rooms. There were dungeon rooms with naked people strapped into strange contraptions. In some rooms men were having sex with transvestites as a small audience of men hovered around the room and watched. In a few other rooms swingers were exchanging partners and having sex with one another. Wondering around the club, Zev felt as if he had walked into a kind of dream dimension. This place didn’t feel real. It was like a degenerate sexual fantasy come to life. A zone separate from reality where people acted out everything they would normally repress.

When Zev wondered back into the main room with the stage, Amy was completely nude. A large group of men had gathered around the stage and were watching her. Some masturbated. She made out with various transvestites and let them dance with her. Zev felt turned on but afraid at the same time. Things seemed like they could get out of hand. Amy was drawing a lot of attention to her and this made Zev feel uncomfortable. He sat down in a seat in the darkness and watched Amy as she danced around. Amy had no limitations. She would do whatever she wanted. When in these sorts of situations, she seized the opportunity to take advantage of it and become the exhibitionist she enjoyed being. There was one very attractive transvestite in particular who Amy seemed to be getting along with. They seemed very turned on by one another. Amy took off her clothes and played with her dick. They kissed and let each other rub against one another. This turned Zev on even though he didn’t want it to.

Amy came down from the stage with the transvestite. She was naked and holding the woman’s hand. Amy came up to Zev and introduced him to Mellay. Mellay was completely nude as well. She had large breasts and a big dick. Her hair was long and pink and she wore a lot of make-up. She stuck out her masculine hand and Zev shook it. Mellay told Zev that he was a lucky man. That Amy was very beautiful. Amy asked Zev if he wanted to come play with them in one of the rooms. Zev felt pissed off because he had just wanted to hang out in this environment with Amy for a little while. Zev preferred being a spectator at these events. He didn’t want to bring so much attention to himself. But Amy had quickly jumped into the action and now every pervert’s eye was on her. Zev told her to go have fun and maybe he would join them later. Amy smiled and then walked off with Mellay pulling her towards one of the rooms.

Zev went out front and smoked a cigarette. He observed the desolate and depraved streets. What poverty existed in the world. There were no other attractive women for him to mess around with. He thought about doing something sexual with a transvestite but just couldn’t stomach it. He was mad that once again Amy was having all the fun. When he walked back inside he went in search of the room Amy was in. He walked down several dark flights of stairs and then he heard her loud laugh in the distance. He could hear Amy screaming out in pleasure. She loved to put on a good show. He saw one of the rooms with massive amounts of men crowding around. Most of the men were masturbating and Zev found that repulsive. He was able to get close enough to where he could look into the room and he saw Amy lying flat out in what looked like a dentist’s chair. Mellay was vigorously pumping herself into Amy as Amy had another transvestites dick in her mouth. A few of the spectators touched Amy’s tits but Mellay would tell them to keep their hands off. Zev didn’t know Amy was interested in transvestites. He knew she was bisexual but didn’t imagine she could enjoy something like this. She had never discussed it. He felt betrayed and a bit humiliated. What was she doing? But at the same time knowing that Amy was his gave him a sense of ease. He tried to relax himself and get into watching the show. Several men asked him if he was with that girl and he felt slightly ashamed when he told them he was. But he also felt pride. Amy was the star of the deviant show and she was his. He admired her for her sexual courage.

They left the club an hour or so after getting there. On their way out Amy kept asking Zev if he wanted her to suck his dick before they left. Zev wanted it but he told her not to worry about it. He wasn’t a performer like Amy was and felt awkward doing sexual things while people watched him. He preferred being the one watching. But he was also upset that he didn’t get to have any sexual fun. In the taxi back to the hotel Zev was quiet. He felt uncomfortable around Amy. Like there were aspects of her he didn’t know. For the first time in his marriage to Amy he wondered if Amy could be an entirely different person than the one he thought he knew so well. Maybe that explained all the emotional distance. But Zev didn’t express these feelings to Amy. He knew it would only cause a fight. That night Zev and Amy fell asleep on opposite sides of the bed. Amy felt like Zev always got angry at her after they did sexual things together with other people. A kind of jealousy that she found immature and lame. She knew that by the next night the jealousy would turn to lust and Zev would want to have sex with her. She just had to deal with his bad mood until then.

Sell Out Man, Chapter Eleven

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Arthur was mad that Amy traveled with Zev to his opening in San Francisco. He felt a nervous tension in his chest that he never felt before. It followed him everywhere. Was this jealousy? He tried to forget about it. He read and wrote. And watched shows on Netflix. He attempted to go about his life as normally as he could. But he couldn’t stop thinking about Amy with Zev. He thought about them holding hands and having sex. He was angry that Zev was with her and he wasn’t. He felt rejected and shut out of something very important to him. He told himself that he was being irrational. Amy was married to Zev. What the hell was he expecting? He was just Amy’s lover and shouldn’t make any more demands on her than that. If he did he knew he could lose her.

Arthur told himself to keep his anger to himself. He had no right to feel the way he did. He knew what he was getting into. Maybe in time if he played it cool Amy would leave Zev for him. But if that was going to happen he had to play the game. He had to act like everything was fine even though he felt like he was in despair when he was away from Amy. Arthur felt gradually he would win Amy if he just kept on playing it cool. Let Zev keep being the miserable man that Amy had said he was. Let him keep being mean and unappreciative towards Amy. Gradually he would lose her. When Arthur texted Amy he acted like he wasn’t preoccupied with her. He kept his texts about sex and funny little comments. He didn’t ask Amy any personal questions. He would win Amy by being the more fun and easy going man.

While at the opening Amy received a text from Arthur. She checked her phone in the bathroom. Arthur told her that he couldn’t wait to make her cum and Amy told him that she wanted his dick in her mouth. This excited Amy and put her in an overly good mood that night. People were everywhere and more people had showed up to the opening than expected. There was a continual small line out the door to get in and see the new Zev Bauhaus paintings. She needed to be there for Zev. She needed to make sure he had the support and attention from her that he needed when in these sorts of uncomfortable situations. It wasn’t much fun for Amy to have to be so attentive to what Zev was needing.

Zev was anxious that entire night. He stood at the back of the gallery with a continual glass of red wine in his hand. He was wearing his standard black suit with black boots. His hair was dyed black and he looked like some kind of gothic hero. He could have been an obscure industrial musician. But he was Zev Bauhaus. An angry and miserable man. He was a man who didn’t like people although he smiled and was very nice whenever someone tried to talk with him. He answered questions about his paintings enthusiastically. He pretended like he cared. Zev Bauhaus was a sell out man.

Zev would go out the backdoor into the alley and smoke cigarettes. Sometimes people would join him and sometimes he would be fortunate to make it out alone. Amy would continue to talk to people about Zev’s work and Zev would get a break. When alone he would stand there and look around. He breathed cigarette smoke deep into his lungs. He looked up at the San Francisco skyline and could smell Chinatown in the distance. He thought about how much he hated being the center of attention and longed to be alone. He wanted to wander around the San Francisco streets with Amy. He wanted to get out of his current imposter role.

Several attractive women flirted with Zev that night. This was the only thing he enjoyed about these openings. That and the free wine and cheese. Even though Zev was a rich man he always enjoyed things for free. One woman in particular was very flirtatious with him. She wore a tight fitting, black dress that went down to her mid-thighs. Her thin legs were bare and she wore black boots. Her hair was long and brown and her nipples stuck out when she talked to Zev. She asked Zev if he saw anything that was turning him on and Zev looked at her breasts and told her he did. She told him that was good since it was her intention. She told him that she loved his work and would love to fuck him. These were the kind of girls Zev liked. Slutty and forward. Not ashamed about their strong desire to get off in strange ways. Zev told the young lady that he would love to fuck her. He told her he found her to be incredibly attractive. She whispered in his ear to meet him out back.

Amy didn’t think much about Zev’s absence. She figured he was smoking a cigarette and talking to people. She didn’t mind that he was gone. She could flirt with men and women and talk to whoever she wanted. This is what Zev assumed. Since Amy had been responsible for starting Zev’s career through her writings, people would ask her about Zev as if he was a subject matter she had exclusive information on. She didn’t find talking about Zev nearly as interesting as she once did. To her Zev was now just a sad and defeated man. He wasn’t anyone special anymore. Marriage and unhappiness had destroyed his mystique. Amy would try and change the subject to talk about other things. She would ask people questions about themselves. Amy felt a responsibility to be the life of the party and she wanted to make everyone in that gallery happy. An impossible task of course since the gallery was filled with an obscene amount of people.

She said her name was Aspen as she sucked Zev’s dick. They found a private doorway in the alley and Aspen started kissing Zev. Zev stuck his hand down Aspen’s shirt and felt her breasts. He pulled her shirt down so he could see her tits. Aspen squatted down and pulled out Zev’s erect dick. She sucked it with a similar enthusiasm that Amy did. Aspen then stood up and pulled her dress up. She wasn’t wearing any underwear and she turned her bare ass towards Zev. He thought about how nice it looked. She told Zev to fuck her right there and Zev thought that was strange. He wasn’t prepared to have sex in that dark doorway. But his pants and underwear were already around his knees. He felt like a fool standing there with his erect dick pointing right at her. He told her that he didn’t have a condom but she didn’t care. She told Zev to stick it in and Zev’s lust and desire caused his rational decision making abilities to go limp. Zev did something he had never done before and enjoyed it. He had sex with one of his fans at a gallery opening. He felt this was the kind of thing that should happen at his opening. Famous musicians and actors get a similar treatment so why shouldn’t he? This is what Zev thought about before his mind went blank and he disappeared in the dopamine burst of an orgasm. Aspen pulled down her dress and Zev pulled up his pants. She told him that was good and didn’t seem upset at all that Zev had orgasmed inside of her. They both smoked a cigarette while looking up at the San Francisco skyline. Aspen said goodbye and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Amy and the three gallery representatives had managed to sell all of Zev’s paintings during the first few hours of the opening. Mark Zuckerberg had bought a few and Tim Cook from Apple bought one over a FaceTime session with one of the gallery representatives. The guitar player from the pop heavy metal band Metallica stopped in at the gallery opening with an attractive young girl leaning on his shoulder. Zev and he talked for a little while and he told Zev how much he admired his work. He asked Zev if Metallica could possibly use one of his images on an upcoming album cover. Zev said sure even though he wasn’t sure about it. That wasn’t the direction he wanted his work to go. Zev wasn’t a fan of Metallica but he knew the guy (whose name he didn’t know) was a well-respected guitarist. Zev appreciate him for his skill and high level of accomplishment. He decided to buy one of Zev’s most expensive paintings because he liked how thick and black it was. Zev felt slightly excited that he had sold a painting to one of the most famous guitar players in the world.

Zev considered the opening a success. He sold all his work and got laid. He felt a bit bad about cheating on Amy but he felt like she wasn’t giving him the attention he wanted. He had been mad and sad about her distance and neglect for a long time. Fucking Aspen was fair compensation for the distance that existed between both of them. At around 10pm Zev convinced Amy to disappear from the opening with him. He told Amy to not say goodbye to anyone. They would just leave. Amy felt bad about doing that but Zev insisted. He was ready to go and Amy submitted. Zev grabbed Amy’s hand and they walked out the backdoor as if they were just going to have a cigarette. The gallery was still filled with people. He would miss Trent Reznor, who would come a bit latter. Zev didn’t care much about him anyways.

Zev and Amy took an Uber to North Beach. Zev wanted to show Amy around North Beach since she hadn’t spent much time there before. They went into City Lights Bookstore, the home of beatnik literature. He took Amy to the second floor and showed her the beat section. They bought a few books by Kerouac, Gregory Corso and Burroughs. The crazy ones. They then walked across the alley to a bar called Vesuvio Cafe. They sat on the second floor and looked out through stained glass windows. They looked at the exotic lights of Broadway. They both drank Irish Coffees and looked through their new books. Zev talked to Amy about the beats. He told her that Jack Kerouac had a drink at this bar before going off on his solo journey in Big Sur. They had bought the novel Big Sur that Kerouac had wrote about that period of his life. It was one of Zev’s favorite books. He told Amy about how Kerouac got in a fight on the sidewalk outside of the bar. They talked about beat culture and how it didn’t exist anymore. Beatniks were now just seen as losers and deviants. Solitary outcasts. Zev wanted to be a beatnik more than anything else.

San Francisco was cold that night. Just how it is almost every night of the year. But the liquor in their stomachs kept Amy and Zev warm. They walked along Broadway past all the strip joints. Zev told Amy about how in one of the strip joints they walked past a stripper had shot a cherry from her vagina right into Zev’s face. Zev told Amy that he was completely repulsed by it and almost threw up. Amy couldn’t stop laughing. Amy wanted to go inside a porn movie theatre that they passed but Zev wasn’t feeling horny anymore. Amy convinced him, telling him that he wouldn’t get many chances to be in a coin porno booth with her. Zev agreed.

They went inside the porn theatre which was dark and lit with red lights. A non-attentive man with a bald head filled with tattoos sat behind the counter reading a book. Zev got some quarters from the change machine and they walked towards a booth. As they walked down the long and dark hallway Zev and Amy heard the sex sounds of the porn movies playing behind the closed doors. You could hear the sound of men masturbating. Zev and Amy walked into one booth which was dark besides the shining light of the porno screen. The floor was sticky and Zev put a few coins into the machine. Amy sat down on the bench and unbuttoned Zev’s pants. She started angrily sucking his dick. He could feel her teeth scraping against his sensitive skin. But he liked the slight pain her teeth created. It caused him to become intensely erect. Something about pain and sex got him off. Zev looked at the porno film playing on the screen and Amy also watched it as she continued to work on Zev’s dick. She then stood up and pulled her pants down. She turned her ass to Zev and told him that she wanted him to fuck her just like he fucked that girl. She told him to do it now and Zev stood there a moment in surprise. How did she know? She told Zev she didn’t care. She thought it was hot and wanted him to give it to her just like he gave it to that slutty fan girl. Zev gave Amy what she wanted and fucked her till he orgasmed for a second time that night. He was living the sexually deviant life he wanted but in his ignorance, didn’t realize he should be careful about what he wished for.

Sell Out Man, Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

 

E.M. Cioran wrote about how weak men depend upon a woman’s love to prop them up. Zev felt a distance between him and Amy and gradually he grew weaker. He detected a perturbation when he put his arm around her and tried to pull her in closer. He could tell that she didn’t love him as much anymore by the way he noticed the hair on her arm standing up when he got close to her. When she would smile at him it felt forced. There was something that felt like acting when they were together. Zev would try and forget about it.

There was a time when Amy was very in love with Zev. When they first met nine years ago Amy and Zev fell in love. Possibly it was love at first sight. Zev left the relationship he was in and Amy left the relationship she was in and immediately they were together. They tore apart their entire lives to be with one another. Amy thought Zev was the greatest person she had ever met. A true artist who was handsome, sexually deviant and kind. Once she saw his work she became his biggest fan and started writing various essays about his work and submitted her essays to various art and literary magazines and websites. Up until that point in Zev’s art career he didn’t have too many fans. He was a struggling artist. But Amy was a successful writer with a popular blog. She had several books published and wrote about everything from art, fashion, contemporary literature and women’s sexual liberation. The essays she wrote about Zev’s work brought him a greater audience.

Amy’s essays about Zev’s work were fervent and filled with enthusiasm. It was hard not to become a fan of Zev’s work and personality when reading her essays. In one essay she talked about the person Zev Bauhaus was. She called him a Mark Rothko of our time. She described him as a mysterious and anarchistic character. A person who didn’t care about the norms and petty preoccupations of society. He lingered in the shadows and stood on the outside. He chain smoked and read existential literature. He wore all black all the time and walked like a man mindful of each step. He was slow and calculated. Deviant and obscure. He was just the kind of artist our uptight and conformist culture needed.

Gallery owners started to contact Zev. More people visited his website. He started getting emails from people telling him they were a fan of his work. People wanted to talk with him and ask him questions. Various magazines and websites requested interviews. People had never wanted to talk to Zev Bauhaus before. He was obscure and unimportant. Just another artist contributing to the self-centered mass of unwanted creative detritus. But now people wanted his perspectives. They wanted to hear him talk. They wanted to display his paintings. Gradually the mystique created by Amy grew. Amy was very in love with Zev and any man who has the love and admiration of a woman like Amy is seen as possessing something all the rest of us are missing. Amy’s love made Zev Bauhaus a stronger man.

Amy was young and beautiful. The first year they knew one another they had sex all the time. Zev thought Amy was beautiful and sexually gifted and he wanted to share her with the few friends he had. A woman as beautiful and skilled as Amy needed to be shared. Zev always considered himself a good friend. They had threesomes with several of Zev’s friends. They would have his friends over to their apartment in Downtown LA. They would drink and do psychedelic drugs and spend the evenings having sex and talking. It was a liberated time in Zev and Amy’s life. Zev didn’t realize then that the sexually liberated woman he was helping Amy to become one would day turn on him.

After six months together Amy and Zev were married. Zev and Amy moved into their Silverlake home. Now that Zev was a married man living in an expensive home he had no choice but to pursue making money. He had serious responsibilities now. He was no longer and itinerant artist. He now had the pressures of domestic living weighing down upon him. As much as he didn’t want to he started taking opportunities being offered to him. He showed his work in various gallery shows all over the world. He gave interviews and he pretended to be enthusiastic about his work and the modern art world. He sold himself by being the kind of artist he was not. Several corporations contacted him for paintings. Rich people started buying his work. Facebook asked him to do a mural at their headquarters. Before Zev knew it he was making a lot of money and was in high demand. The art world was in love with Zev Bauhaus. A painter like no other. Zev was on top of the world and this made him uncomfortable. For the first time in his life everything was going well. He had a beautiful and intelligent woman completely devoted to him. He lived in a beautiful home. He had a lot of money in his bank account. His work was in high demand. As a result, he started getting panic attacks. He would run out of movie theaters and restaurants feeling like he couldn’t breathe. His anxiety grew. He knew that now he had a lot more to lose and he was convinced he would eventually lose it all.

Zev suspected that Amy could be cheating on him but he didn’t think much about it. He would have the thought and then immediately dismiss it. There was no way Amy could deceive him. He trusted her more than any person in the world. But Zev was growing older. He was past 40 now. He had to dye the gray from his hair. He moved slower and gradually became more burned out. He was negative most of the time and his misery grew like a cancerous tumor. The more successful he became the more unhappy he grew. But he assumed that Amy accepted these things about him. She was committed to him for the rest of their life together he assumed. Amy would tell Zev how much she loved him. She would tell him he was the love of her life and Zev would believe her.

But he started to feel like something fundamental was missing. The hugs and kisses gradually went away. The closeness he felt when next to her became more distant. Amy became angry more often when Zev would put his arm around her. The sound of Zev chewing food would torment Amy. The sound of his voice frustrated her. His misery was something she couldn’t find attractive. The sex was less and less often. Zev needed to do more and more perverted things with Amy and that frustrated her. She wasn’t as interested in the sex shows, sex clubs and swinger experiences as Zev was. But she pretended to be more interested than she was. She wanted to please Zev so she went along with it. She knew that Zev couldn’t be turned on by ordinary bedroom sex. He needed to take things a lot further. Amy wanted to stay in bed and watch Netflix. She wanted to have sex and then relax. But Zev needed to do all of these perverted things. He was never happy on a Friday or Saturday night unless they went on a sexual adventure. The more domestic Zev became, the more he needed strange sexual experiences. Amy felt like she was no longer good enough for him and began to look for men who made her feel like a queen.

Zev slept more and more in the other room or in his studio. He would go to bed angry. Sometimes he would pitch a tent in his backyard and sleep outside. He was feeling more and more alone. Amy was gone more often. She worked more and went out with friends. Zev didn’t like it when Amy had friends over to their home and Amy resented this about Zev. She wished he would be more social. Amy’s lack of interested in Zev made him feel more isolated. He felt less loved even though he wasn’t aware of it. Love is like an ice cube. It melts away when the heat between two people gets high. The immense love Zev once had from Amy was now dwindling to next to nothing. Amy tried to maintain the image of loving Zev just as much as she always did but it is impossible to hide true feelings. Human beings communicate at a level beyond words and pretense. We also communicate through feelings. Zev felt the absence of Amy as time went on.

Why did this always happen to him? Why did he always end up feeling this way in relationships? Zev wondered about these things. Zev tolerated not being loved and abandoned emotionally. He tolerated being less loved because he assumed this was what he deserved. He assumed that he intentionally would cause a woman to fall out of love with him by being mean and critical towards her. He was fearful of the intensity of a woman’s love and would gradually chip away at it. Zev was only able to feel desire and intimacy with a woman when she no longer was interested in him. When she was cold and distant. Then he could really love a woman because he was receiving the kind of treatment he felt like he deserved. Anger, frustration, deception, distance, repulsion and resentment were the kind of feelings he needed to feel to get closer to a woman. He had grown up with a father who made him feel terrible about himself. His mother had emotionally neglected him and sided with Zev’s destructive and mentally ill father. Zev’s father was a proud Bauhaus who had made lots of money. He was sadistic and mad and had to make Zev the terrible son in order to feel like a righteous man. As well respected and financially successful as Zev’s father was, he was the worst kind of abusive deviant. From a young age Zev learned how not to be loved. Amy’s distance and lack of connection felt normal to him. His depression and isolation was what he deserved for being the worthless person he felt like he was and he wore this depression and isolation as if it were normal. Meanwhile Amy was having the time of her life. Arthur was what she now wanted in a man. She was now invested in helping to build Arthur up as she let Zev down.

Sell Out Man, Chapter Nine

Zev was sitting at a café during a break from working. He had just finished his final painting for his upcoming show at Hang Gallery and Marissa and the other intern were applying thick layers of mate gloss to it. Zev was smoking a hand rolled cigarette and pretending to read a book as he watched people walk by. He heard someone say his name and he looked to his left with a feeling of dread. Zev never liked being recognized in public by people who knew him. It was Sandy Goldstein, a head curator for the MOMA in downtown LA. Zev couldn’t stand Sandy but he stood up to give her a hug. He felt slightly ashamed for being seen smoking a cigarette since he knew that smoking had become so taboo. But he tried not to care. Sandy asked Zev how things were going and Zev pretended to be enthusiastic about work. Zev was on his best behavior when talking with people in the art world. He had to maintain a professional image and come off as someone who was very serious about his work. Selling art to rich people was serious business. Sandy and Zev spoke for a little bit and then said their goodbyes. Sandy told Zev she was looking forward to seeing his latest works and Zev told Sandy about an upcoming essay on his work being featured in BOMB Magazine next month.

When Zev returned to the studio Marissa and the other intern where still hard at work. Marissa looked at Zev who was organizing a bunch of papers at his desk. She wondered if she should tell Zev about what she had seen the night before. She wondered if Zev knew that Amy was dating other men. She knew that if Zev did not know about Amy’s deviant behavior she could mess things up for him. Maybe she would try and talk with Amy about it first. Marissa was that way. Always trying to be ethical. Her Christian guilt caused her to always want to do the right thing. It was a drag. She decided to keep her mouth shut about it for now.

Zev observed the painting once it was finished. He didn’t like to see any gloss stains on the painting. If the gloss wasn’t brushed in evenly enough it would create little white pustules. Marissa knew it would upset Zev to find any pustules on the painting so she slaved away making sure there were none. Zev told Marissa that everything looked good and when the paintings were all completely dried they would finish packaging and sending them. The show was in two weeks and Zev was already supposed to have the paintings there a week and a half ago. The gallery needed time to clean the paintings and to go over them looking for any damage that needed repair. It also took a considerable amount of time to hang the paintings. The gallery knew that they were dealing with Zev Bauhaus. They knew everything would not go according to plan when dealing with a painter like this so they took what they could get. They tried to remain friendly and told Zev to just get them all the paintings as soon as he could. The gallery would be rushed to get everything done in time for the show. Zev felt a sense of pressure that he didn’t like. This is why he hated doing one man shows, he told himself.

Zev left the studio early that day. He told Marissa that he would see her later that night at the party. On his drive home, Zev thought about living by the beach. He thought that Oxnard would be a great town to get away in. He and Amy had the money to buy a nice home on the beach. When he was there he noticed several for sale. They could live an hour or so outside of LA and live a more quiet and healthy life. But he knew Amy would never go for it. She liked city life. She liked living in Silverlake, surrounded by friends and culture. Her job would also prevent her from living too far away. She needed to be close to the WORD office in Downtown LA. Zev thought about possibly buying a beach house and just spending weekends there. Maybe she would want to do that. He also thought that he could stay there alone whenever he wanted, but decided he wouldn’t want to be away from Amy if he didn’t have to be. It was odd to Zev that he found Amy so frustrating as a human being but didn’t ever want to be away from her. What was wrong with him?

When Zev Bauhaus arrived home the front yard looked nice and tended to. This put Zev’s mind at ease. When he walked into the house the front door was open. Caterers were coming in and out. Amy was inside getting things ready for the party. When she saw Zev, she smiled and gave him a hug. She kissed him on the cheek. Zev asked her if there was anything he needed to do to prepare for the evening’s party and Amy told him that he should just go and relax and take his time preparing for the party. Zev felt like that was just what he wanted to hear. He had no desire to help.

Zev didn’t like having anyone over to his home, let alone a party. Amy was a highly social person so he had to let her have her parties once or twice a year. Amy would throw parties every weekend if it was up to her. Zev went in his home studio and turned on music. He listened to The Residents. Eskimo was one of his favorite albums by The Residents and he listened to it as he put his feet up and sat in his black leather Eames chair. He kicked off his black low top Doc Martins and looked up at the wood beamed ceiling. He looked around and the various paintings on the walls and at his massive collection of books and records. He was listening to The Residents through his Bluetooth speaker system. He felt upset that he didn’t listen to records as much as he wanted to because it took so much work and didn’t sound as clear. Bluetooth and iTunes had become a much lazier way to listen to his music.

Zev tried to clear his mind by taking a few deep breaths. His mind was always spinning. So many thoughts. Too many thoughts for one man. The thoughts never stopped coming. He was consumed by them and no matter how hard he tried he could not get out of his thoughts. He had heard people talking about discovering his true self. That he was pure consciousness and not his thoughts. That once he entered or discovered a state of pure consciousness he would no longer be afflicted by the burden of his thoughts. He tried meditating and doing whatever he could to discover this state of pure consciousness but he could never get there. There were always thoughts. A continual tornado of thoughts that were impossible to escape from. Zev liked thinking and didn’t have issues with being overly identified with his ego. He thought people who did not identify with their egos were drones. He had no desire to be an enlightened drone. He liked ego. He just wished his ego was not so hyperactive and filled with as many negative thoughts. Zev was a tormented man even though he looked very handsome and successful from the outside.

Zev smoked some marijuana and a cigarette simultaneously. He picked up his notebook which he would draw his cartoons in. He took a black felt tip pen and started drawing. His cartoons were ridiculous. They were sloppy. Looked like something a child would draw. He drew six boxes on the page and then he filled the boxes in with the same character profile and this character’s different thoughts. He had drawn this low-life character thousands of times and assumed it was his alter ego. Zev would express his deepest worries and preoccupations through the character. He wanted to create a character who was reclusive, sexually deviant, didn’t give a rat’s ass about the law and how he is perceived. He called this character The Toilet Ruminator and he wanted to make thousands of cartoons about this guy. This was the real work Zev wanted to do. Subversive, beautifully honest cartoons about the ridiculousness of life. He would call the eventual book Toilet Ruminations.

Zev drew and smoked cigarettes for an hour and then Amy came in and told him that he needed to get dressed for the party. The guests would start arriving in an hour or so. Zev took a shower and then shaved. As he was blow drying his long hair Amy came into the bathroom and asked him a question. She walked over to Zev with a hungry look in her eyes and reached through Zev’s towel and grabbed his cock. Zev let her and Amy took off Zev’s towel and got down on her knees. She started sucking Zev’s cock and Zev grabbed onto the counter to avoid falling over. The combination of being stoned, tired and receiving an expert blow job could make even the strongest of men fall over.

It took Amy about three or so minutes to bring Zev to climax. Zev was very turned on every time Amy gave him a blow job. He didn’t understand why he didn’t ask Amy to suck his dick more often since he knew she would love to do it whenever he asked. After Zev had orgasmed in Amy’s mouth she swallowed it down and said yum. Amy got up and kissed Zev on the check. She said that she hoped that would help him be more relaxed for the party and Zev laughed. He said that it certainly helped.

Zev was in charge of the music that night. There was a bartender and two cooks in the kitchen making different appetizers. Two servers dressed in all black brought the food around and also got people drinks. The house was filled with people. There was a valet in front, parking people’s cars. This is what people did in LA. Most of the people at the party were writers, editors and publishers. There were friends of Amy’s from the gym and yoga studio she went to. There were friends of Amy’s from high school who Zev could not stand. There were various artists and indie film makers. The lead singer from the band DIIV was there. Courtney Love dropped by for a little while and the great Los Angeles poet John Tottenham was also there. John was the only person there that Zev liked and admired. Marissa was also there and she brought Evan along. Amy thought it best that Arthur didn’t come.

Zev wanted to play music that people had never heard before. He wanted to turn them on to weird things. He played albums from Duster, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Dead C, David Toop, Russian Tsarlag, Jandek, Nudge Squidfish, Richard Pinhas, The Fall, Throbbing Gristle, Nurse With Wound, Boyd Rice, Einsturzende Neubauten  and Tangerine Dream. Many people commented that the music was weird and many more people came up to him to ask who he was playing. The more Zev drank and smoked the more social he became. He talked with John Tottenham about the music he was playing and different authors they were reading. They also talked about the brutality of the creative process. Zev ate and talked with lots of other people. People were excited to talk with Zev. It was not often they could socialize with a famous contemporary painter. Lots of people asked Zev about upcoming shows and what he was working on. Because Zev was drunk he had the courage to be more real. He talked about his cartoons and not about his paintings. People were surprised to hear that he was making cartoons. Why the hell would a famous painter be making cartoons? But Zev talked about his cartoons passionately and people thought they sounded interesting.

Zev didn’t talk much to Amy that night at the party. Amy was drunk and she had done some coke. She was drinking vodka martinis like they were going to become extinct the next day. Zev observed that she practically gulped them down. Amy socialized with everyone and everyone loved Amy. She was the life of the party with a large smile imprinted on her face. She laughed a lot and talked a lot. She wanted her guests to be happy and to have a good time and this energy was contagious. The party was lively and went on long after the caterers and bartender left. People swam naked in the pool and hung out by the fire pit. John Tottenham met a young woman who was a fan of his poetry and had sex with her in the back bathroom. Amy gave a blow job a young Asian video game designer that she had a crush on. He was high on LSD and weed and it was the greatest blow job he had ever received in his life. He would never be the same after that. She had sex with another woman in her bedroom, a woman she occasionally hooked up with. They snuck away quickly late in the evening and got each other off. She had told Zev she was going to do it and Zev didn’t care. He found it to be a turn on that Amy was such a sex machine.

Zev went to sleep around 2am. The high of being drunk was turning into the acidic sickness of not feeling so well. He drank a lot of water and smoked a cigarette. He avoided saying good night to everyone but told Amy he was going to bed. Amy felt happy to be able to spend the rest of her night with her friends and not worrying about what Zev would think of her behavior. She stayed up that night till 5am talking, laughing, showing people her tits, drinking and doing drugs. It was a great release for her. She was in her happy place. Zev fell asleep that night listening to Amy laughing and shouting out. He thought she was out of control and it annoyed Zev that Amy could be so reckless. Sometimes she had no limits. But it was also the thing he loved most about her.

The next morning Zev woke up early to let the cleaning crew in. He drank his coffee and smoked cigarettes in his studio while several people cleaned up the house. He felt terrible and remembered why he hated drinking so much. Amy was still asleep and would stay in bed till 12pm. This pissed Zev off but he smoked some marijuana to help him not say anything. To just be happy when she woke up. It was Saturday and they were going to spend the day together in LA.

 

Sell Out Man, Chapter Eight

Zev Bauhaus had a dream. He was having more of these dreams lately but didn’t pay much attention to them. Fits of unconscious paranoia he thought. Being a German Jew meant that Zev was prone to fits paranoia. It was the after effect of the persecution Jews experienced in Nazi Germany, Zev assumed. Zev was once told by a psychologist that he was a high functioning, full-fledged neurotic. In his dream Amy was having sex with several different men. She was naked and yelling at Zev that he needed to loosen up. As she was yelling at Zev one of her naked lovers hung out by her side. Zev was horrified. He couldn’t believe that Amy thought this sort of thing was ok. Amy laughed at Zev and then continued to suck off the naked guy sitting next to her. Zev woke up from the dream with a feeling of despair in his gut. He looked over at Amy who was sound asleep. Zev didn’t know that Amy had had sex with Arthur the night before.

Amy was thinking of Arthur more and more. She figured she was in some sort of relationship with Arthur now. They had not discussed this but Arthur had started telling Amy that he loved her. Amy loved the idea of love. She loved that Arthur was so in love with her and she decided to tell Arthur that she also loved him. She wasn’t sure if she loved Arthur but she let herself get caught up in the fantasy of it all. After years of being in what felt like a loveless marriage with Zev, it felt good to once again be intoxicated by the fantasy of being in love. She surrendered herself to the feeling and went along with it.

Amy and Zev had conversations about being polyamorous. Zev had told Amy that he wouldn’t mind if she had a boyfriend. But every time they did sexual things with other people, Zev seemed to get jealous. Even after their sex shows, Zev seemed to be upset with Amy the entire next day. He wouldn’t talk to her about what was wrong and he seemed to be carrying around a grudge. Amy wouldn’t mind if Zev had sexual experiences with another woman so she had difficulty understanding why Zev got so jealous. She assumed that if Zev ever found out about Arthur at least she knew that they had discussed being polyamorous in the past. Maybe Zev wouldn’t be that upset about things, Amy assumed. Maybe he would understand why she needed to keep her affair with Arthur a secret. I mean he would just get so jealous. Amy wasn’t dumb. Deep down she knew that what she was doing with Arthur was wrong but she assuaged her guilt by telling herself that at one time Zev said he wouldn’t mind if she had a boyfriend.

Amy went about her life without thinking too much about what she was doing. She just wanted to have fun and was enjoying the feeling of having someone like Arthur so in love with her. Arthur would send her sexy texts all throughout the day and this made her high-pressured life feel easier. The book of essays that she was helping Arthur edit was due for submission in a month and there was still a lot of work to be done. She also had two other novels she was editing that had deadlines not far away. In addition, Amy had to edit submissions that were accepted by WORD, so she had her hands full. She spent her mornings and afternoons sitting at the kitchen table working on her MacBook Air. Some afternoons Arthur would come to her house and they would work on the essays together. They would laugh a lot and Arthur would always try and play with Amy while they were working. He would grab her tit or try and kiss her. Amy would laugh and tell him that they needed to work. After an hour of trying to keep Arthur focused on the task at hand they would take a break and go fuck in the bedroom. Amy didn’t seem to feel too bad about fucking Arthur in the bed that Zev slept in. Sometimes the imprint of Zev’s head would still be on the pillow.

Zev had a one-man exhibition at Hang Gallery in San Francisco coming up. He was back at work painting every day to prepare for the show. The show would be up for a month at the gallery. Hang Gallery was one of the few galleries in America which specialized in showing the works of contemporary abstract painters. Zev felt excited about the upcoming show since Hang Gallery was a gallery he liked. He appreciated that they didn’t cater to the tastes of the rich or what was popular in the modern art market. Abstract paintings were less popular in the modern art world and few galleries stayed completely true to only showing modern abstract work. Galleries would give in and show more conceptual art, photography and realist paintings since this was the kind of stuff that sold. Hang Gallery attracted a more educated and countercultural thinking crowd and Zev was excited to have his work hanging in this kind of environment. He was excited to visit San Francisco, the home of beat writers, Richard Brautigan and other countercultural and subversive artists that he was a fan of. Even though the tech nerds were taking over the city, there was still a strong undercurrent of bohemian life present. He felt his work belonged in a city like this.

Zev had decided to smoke a lot of marijuana and listen to only The Dead C while he painted. This helped him to feel more in a creative mood. He was showing some paintings that he already had finished but he was also creating seven new paintings for the show. The paintings were on pre-stretched canvases that he bought from Blick art store. He was tired of stretching his own canvases so he had Marissa and the other intern go purchase a bunch of pre-stretched ones. Marissa and the intern would gesso the canvases with lots of white gesso, creating a kind of thick texture. Then Zev would come in and use different colors to create various shapes. All the paintings would be finished off with a shiny black acrylic color which he would use to highlight the amoeba like shapes. Zev used massive amounts of acrylic paint to achieve a kind of thick texture. He wanted his paintings to be almost too heavy to lift. It was the texture that made his abstraction come to life. Being stoned while painting helped Zev to be more interested in the process of creating strange shapes and colors.

When Zev was immersed in painting he noticed that he felt happier. He didn’t think about all the things he was unhappy about. The emotional distance he felt from Amy. All the responsibilities and obligations he had to tend to. The bills that needed to be paid. The people he had to talk with. The fake persona he had to create when talking with people in the art world. The sell out that he had become. He didn’t think of any of it. He lost himself in the process of painting and listening to music and his mood improved as a result. When Zev was in a better mood he was less critical of Amy. He didn’t give her a hard time for doing her work at the kitchen table. He didn’t feel agitated at her when she slept in or didn’t do enough work around the house. He felt better inside so things didn’t get to him. These periods of happiness with his work were transient and soon the drudgery of being a contemporary painter would return. Painting was only half his job. He had to plan things with the gallery, talk with potential buyers and package his paintings to be shipped off to whatever exhibition, show or private buyer was demanding his work. He despised all of this busy work but found that the marijuana helped him to handle it all better.

Marissa walked back home after a long work day in the studio. Zev had her working a lot helping with the new paintings. Her job was to gesso the canvases and then when Zev was finished with a painting, to apply the heavy gloss. She liked that she was working more but was slightly disappointed she didn’t have time to read. Zev seemed less miserable and more engaged with his work. Marissa was always relieved when this was the case. Zev would laugh and talk with her more. He would tell her more things about his life and she would talk with him about her life. She knew that Zev was smoking a lot of marijuana but she didn’t mind. Marijuana was legal now and she felt that it benefited certain people to be stoned all the time. Zev seemed more normal and functioning when high. He would tell her about books he was reading and weird things that he had done (like handing a teller at the bank his iPhone instead of his bank card). Zev talked to her about how he felt society was one big conspiracy to conform the human mind to a particular way of being. That we were all being continually indoctrinated by our lack of critical thinking and our desire for habit, routine and entertainment. Humans were already robotic and didn’t even know it. Free will was something that did not exist and convincing robots that they had free will was part of the conspiracy. Marissa found this view of society horrifying and she thought about it as she walked home through the city streets.

Marissa listened to Body/Head on her iPhone as she walked. A two-person band that Zev had turned her on to. She thought about what she would make for dinner and then she wondered if she would have the guy over she had been seeing for some pre-bedtime sex. After a long day of working at the studio having sex sounded good but she didn’t know if she liked this guy. He was very attractive and interesting but he still lived with his parents and had no real idea about what he was doing with his life. She felt like this was ok at the age of 27 but didn’t want to get in a serious relationship with someone like this. She would much rather be with someone like Zev but she needed to take love and affection wherever she could get it. She pressed pause on her music and called Evan to see if he was free that night. Evan said that he was and suggested that they go and have dinner at a new restaurant called Pot, which was inside The Line Hotel. The Line Hotel was in Koreatown and was one of the hipper specialty hotels in America. One of Zev Bauhaus’s paintings hung on the second floor so Marissa was familiar with the place. Marissa thought that it sounded like fun to go out to dinner to a new restaurant so she agreed. She would go home quickly, shower and shave and then Evan would come pick her up in about an hour. Evan just needed to make sure that he could borrow his parent’s car.

Evan was your typical Los Angeles hipster. His thick head of short hair was disheveled and he wore old t-shirts and jeans with white low top Chuck Taylors and a jean jacket with all sorts of music band buttons on it. He was interested in bands like Guided By Voices, Beach House, Beach Fossils, Sonic Youth and DIIV. He smoked cigarettes and read science fiction. Marissa enjoyed how interested in science fiction he was and she loved hearing about Phillip K Dick stories. Currently Evan was absorbed in a strange biography about Phillip K Dick and couldn’t stop talking about him as they drove to The Line Hotel. Evan finally found a parking spot and they walked through the busy streets of Koreatown. Asian people mixed in with white people everywhere. Banks, buildings and Korean restaurants littered the busy streets. The apartments were all smooshed together and there was a fishy smell in the air.

When they arrived at The Line Hotel the environment was festive. Thievery Corporation played on the stereo system. Lots of people were checking into the hotel. The bar was filled with all sorts of hipsters. Marissa looked forward to having a cocktail. As they walked through the bar and towards the restaurant Marissa noticed something surprising out of the corner of her eye. She saw Amy sitting in a booth pressed up close against some guy. Amy was dressed in all black, had her hair and make-up nicely done and looked very happy. She kept pressing herself into the guy that she was sitting with and the guy would try and kiss her. Marissa felt startled. What was going on? She had met Amy several times so she got on the other side of Evan so as not to be seen. She looked at the guy who she recognized as the author of “The Fantastic Life Of A Disappearing Man.” She had read the book and loved it. She had seen Arthur read at Skylight Books and thought he was very cute. She was shocked to see Arthur with Amy even though it made perfect sense. Amy was a successful literary editor after all. She must sleep with lots of guys. Marissa just thought she was very committed to Zev. When Evan asked Marissa if anything was wrong Marissa told him that everything was fine. That she was just taking in the environment. Marissa and Evan sat down at a table in the crowded restaurant and Marissa was laughing at her thought that Amy really was a slut. She admired Amy even more now.

 

 

Sell Out Man, Chapter Seven

 

Zev woke up at 7:10am. Amy was still sound asleep in bed besides him. She must have come to bed late the night before because Zev didn’t remember her coming to bed. Zev must have been sound asleep. Zev made coffee and then sat on the couch. He put on a Brian Eno record and drank his coffee. He stared out the large window and into the backyard. It was a nice morning. Blue sky and crystal clear sunlight. Birds, squirrels and a black cat played around in the garden. Zev watched and listened to Brian Eno as he drank his coffee. As the caffeine made its way into his blood system he gradually started to feel better. More awake and capable of doing things in the world. His morning coffee brought with it a brief escape from the depression he continually felt. When he drank coffee, he thought about things he wanted to do. He felt mildly excited about the day in front of him.

Zev didn’t want to go to work that day. It was Wednesday or Thursday, he wasn’t sure which. He had had enough of painting. Couldn’t bring himself to do anymore. The thought of working on a painting made him feel nauseous. He had to take care of some business and he didn’t want to do any of it. The idea of having to talk with gallery owners, curators, his accountant and a few payment collectors made him feel even more uncomfortable. He decided that he wouldn’t do that today. He wasn’t going to work or have anything to do with the responsible world. He would take the day off and maybe Amy and he could go do something together.

Zev was smoking a cigarette on the deck when Amy woke up a few hours later. It always annoyed Zev how Amy would sleep in. He felt waking up early was an important virtue. But he was feeling good about his decision to take the day off and didn’t let his agitation get to him. He finished his cigarette and the joined Amy where she sat on the couch drinking her coffee. Her long hair was disheveled and she was wearing one of Zev’s oversized t-shirts. The t-shirt was white and in bold writing said Cold Cave on the front. Amy said that she was cold. Zev looked at Amy’s bare legs and feet and asked her why she didn’t put on pants and socks. Amy said that she didn’t like socks or pants. The feel of most material was uncomfortable on her overly sensitive skin. Amy had a lot of strange sensitivities. She didn’t like to sweat. She didn’t like the feeling of being cold. Tight underwear and bras made her feel suffocated. The sound of someone chewing sent her into an inner rage. Maybe it was Asperger’s syndrome, Zev thought.

Zev told Amy that he wasn’t going to go into work that day. He asked her if she wanted to take a drive to Venice Beach and spend the day there. Amy told Zev that she couldn’t because she had to work. She had meetings at WORD all day and then had to finish editing an essay which was past deadline. She did have a meeting at WORD that day but she also had lunch plans with her friend Rae and she had several errands she wanted to run. Zev felt disappointed that Amy wasn’t able to hang out with him that day. He always enjoyed her company on outings. He felt like she was fun to hang out with and he didn’t have as much fun on his own. It was good for a man to be seen with an attractive younger lady and without her he felt just like everyone else- unextraordinary. Amy felt bad that she had disappointed him and asked Zev if she wanted her to make breakfast. She told Zev that she could make an egg sandwich with bacon. Zev felt hungry and said that sounded good. Amy went into the kitchen to cook breakfast and Zev went out on the deck to smoke another cigarette. The sun felt warm and Zev thought about what he would do that day.

Zev called Marissa and told her that he was taking the day off. He asked her to do organizing and clean-up work around the studio with the other intern. He also asked her to finish filling in the negative space on several of the larger paintings he was working on. A few paintings needed to be packaged and sent out as well. Marissa wondered if Zev was ok and she felt disappointed she wasn’t going to get to see him that day. Even though he was normally miserable, she always liked having him around. She thought of Zev as a great guy. Marissa told Zev that she would do the things he requested and that she hoped he was ok. He told her that he was fine, just needed some time away. Marissa told him she understood and that she would see him the following day.

Zev decided to take a drive out to the beach. He needed to get the hell out of hipster central and go someplace where there was less people and more space. Silverlake was so crowded with people that Zev wondered if it wasn’t part of the reason he was depressed. Maybe he was just the kind of person that needed more space and living inside this kind of overpopulated cement maze was taking its toll on him. City life isn’t all it is cracked up to be. He drove on Highway 101 out towards Ventura. He listened to the new album by Negativeland. He thought about the recent suicide of Simon Morris, one of his favorite contemporary writers and thinkers. Simon was found floating in the water. It must have been a suicide Zev thought even though the cause of death was yet to be declared. Zev felt that it made sense that Simon Morris would end his highly eccentric and deviant life by suicide. He thought about one day doing the same.

The Negativeland album made him laugh. We are all going to die, he thought. Zev smoked cigarettes as he drove. He also smoked pot which gradually changed his entire state of mind. Once he was stoned he was enjoying the drive which previously frustrated him. He enjoyed listening to Negativeland more and was less disappointed that Amy was not with him. He understood. He felt less angry and upset overall. His expectations seemed to disappear. He felt raised out of his depression and petty obsessions. He thought about more interesting things. Zev reminded himself to remain stoned all the time. It was good for him. When Zev saw a sign that said Oxnard/Channel Islands he decided to exit the freeway. Ventura was still many miles away so Zev decided to go check out some obscure beach town that he had never heard of.

Zev drove his black Audi into downtown Oxnard. He stopped and got a cup of shitty coffee. He smoked a cigarette outside the café. He walked around downtown for a little but was unimpressed. Downtown Oxnard is a town that is almost dead. Kind of like the rest of us, Zev thought as he watched a few Hispanic people walking down the street. Zev asked someone where the beach was and they gave him general directions to Channel Islands. When Zev asked the person what Channel Islands was they told him the most beautiful spot in Oxnard. It was at the tip of the ocean. Zev thanked the stranger and then found his way there. He put Channel Islands into his Maps and was there within fifteen minutes. He drove all the way to the end of the road where there was a very small boardwalk area, a bar and a small café. There was a row of cement benches facing the water and Zev sat down in one of them. He looked around and loved how clean the air smelled. Must be all the negative ions Zev thought. Zev lit a cigarette and watched the birds and boats go by.

There weren’t too many people out by the beach that day. A few younger people sat smoking joints and cigarettes and congregating around a cement table. Some locals were out riding their bikes or on a walk. Fishing boats stocked with crew members and fishing poles went out into the sea. A few midafternoon drinkers wondered into the bar. The place was quiet and serene. You could hear seals, seagulls and the sound of sails flapping in the wind. Zev noticed that he felt more at peace as he walked around. He felt more settled within himself than he had felt in a long time. He smoked cigarettes and walked through the residential streets. He looked at the various beach houses and thought about how he and Amy could live this kind of life. He walked out onto the beach and stopped at the foot of the ocean. A sense of exhilaration and awe came over him standing in front of something so powerful that it could annihilate him and everyone else in seconds. The massive horizon stretching out in front of him made all his troubles seem so irrelevant.

Zev walked around for hours. He looked at the boats and noticed that several people lived on their boats. He thought about what a great experience living on a boat must be. A part of him had always wanted to live on a boat. Zev loved being around water and the idea of living on a boat seemed ideal to him. A painter who he was friendly with lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam and he always envied him for it. But he didn’t think living on a boat would ever be a possibility for him. He didn’t know how to drive a boat and didn’t know the first thing about boats. So, he didn’t think about it much. Zev walked on a long pathway lined with succulent plants, grass and trees. People were out walking their dogs or riding bikes. When he would pass by people they would say hello and Zev forced himself to say hello back. He found it strange. No one said hello to strangers in Silverlake or anywhere in LA. But here everyone seemed to say hello when they passed by Zev.

Zev stopped at a bench and sat down. He noticed that Marissa, his mother and a few other people had texted him. But there was nothing from Amy. He thought this was odd. It was almost 5pm and she didn’t text him to see how he was doing or if he was having a nice time? Zev felt slightly hurt by Amy’s lack of interest but assumed she was having a busy day. He decided to text Amy and told her that he had discovered this beautiful place called Channel Islands in Oxnard. A kind of isolated and village like beach town. He told her that he hoped work was not stressful and that her day was good and that he would se her at home in a few hours. He didn’t know that Amy was out getting her vagina waxed and preparing to see Arthur for a quick visit that evening. They would go grab dinner and then have sex quickly at his place in Koreatown. Amy didn’t want to be home after Zev.

On his way back to Silverlake Zev decided to return his mother’s phone call. It was always easier for him to talk with her when he wasn’t feeling miserable. Being out at the ocean had helped him to feel more social. He felt good about discovering a new place rather than just spending his day at home as he normally would do if he took a day off from work. His mother asked him disinterestedly about how he was doing and he told her he was fine. He told her about what he did that day and she said that that sounded nice. Zev’s mother then took the opportunity to talk about herself. She didn’t have many people besides her miserable husband to talk with so she enjoyed talking about herself with Zev. She told him about art shows she had gone to and books that she had read. She told him about how much she enjoyed where she lived and about her upcoming trip to Vietnam. Zev pretended to be interested in her but found her life incredibly boring and bourgeoisie. Zev’s mother then asked him about how the painting was going but he didn’t want to talk about it. He felt like she always judged his work. When he got off the phone with her he felt disturbed. Like he had just spoken with someone who didn’t really care about him. It felt strange that this someone happened to be his mother.

Sell Out Man, Chapter Six

 

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.