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.