It makes little sense why the things that I long to do, desperately want to do, are the very things I do so little or not at all. It is my own personal quandary. I just do not get this about myself. Is it ADHD? Is it laziness? I don’t understand how it is already 1:30pm and I have not done the things I want to do yet. I have taken a shower. I have gone for a walk. I have cleaned my home. I have messed around on Facebook. I have written this blog post. I have texted with my girlfriend. I have listened to some music. I have listened to some news on the radio. I have gone to the liquor store and bought some kombuchas and potato salads. I have stared out at the water. But I have not yet read, made art but at least now I am writing something.
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.
Chapter Twenty Six
Zev Bauhaus made a conscious decision to destroy what he built. It wasn’t so much destruction as it was letting things fall apart. He didn’t want to be a painter anymore and he didn’t want to continue to live the life he was living. He felt stuck and he needed to make a change. One can only resist change long enough until the body starts to collapse under the pressure of resistance. He had not been returning Marissa’s phone calls and he didn’t fulfill obligations to the galleries he was supposed to have shown at. Zev Bauhaus completely disappeared from the art world at a time when his career was in its greatest stage. Zev Bauhaus had become a famous contemporary painter and now he wasn’t fulfilling his responsibilities towards that career. No one could get in touch with him. Several people who had commissioned him for paintings were leaving angry messages. Marissa’s only communication with Zev was through text.
Zev didn’t care. He had become apathetic about almost everything. He didn’t want to do any of it anymore. He had enough of that life. Now that Amy was with another man and didn’t want to be married anymore, what was the point of anything? Most of what he did he did to support their lifestyle. The marriage gave him a reason to keep doing the things he was doing. But he hated being a successful painter. He hated what he had become even though he could now afford nice things. The thing about selling out is that you have to talk to people you would never want to talk with if you didn’t have to. You have to behave in ways that you wouldn’t if you didn’t have to. When a man sell out he agrees to pretend. He agrees to become a fake because he is not able to make it as the man he wants to be. Zev hated this about his job. He hated having to talk enthusiastically on the phone with various curators, gallery owners and private buyers. He hated the hands he had to shake and the smile he had to wear on his face. It caused Zev to loath himself. Now he had the opportunity to get out. There wasn’t much point in going on. But he was afraid. He was afraid of being unstable and alone.
Zev texted with Marissa telling her to keep the studio going as long as she could. He would pay her to send out the final commissions and wrap things up. But he wanted the studio completely shut down within two months. He wasn’t going to paint anymore. He didn’t know what he was going to do but he wasn’t going to paint. He was just trying to stay alive at this point. His body was already beginning to reject him. The stress had caused his rash to be reoccurring. He had developed a buzzing sensation all over his body, which refused to go away. He was tired all the time and there were shooting pains in his stomach more. Zev had been suffering for a long time but this elevation in his suffering was wearing him down. He could only cope with so much. He tried to lift his mood by going to see a Godspeed You! Black Emperor concert. But it only depressed him further. It was strange to be there alone. He didn’t like not having Amy to share the experience with. He cried. What a pathetic man Zev Bauhaus had become.
Zev decided to take a drive to Oxnard. Amy was gone. She didn’t work at home as much anymore. She was out a lot more. He felt like she was intentionally trying to avoid him. That it was unpleasant to be around him. The house was a mess but Zev didn’t care. He didn’t see his house as his house anymore. It was Amy’s house now. There was a strange detachment between himself and the place he used to call home. He walked through the home like a ghost. None of it felt real. On his way to Oxnard he stopped at a café and got a double cappuccino. When he used the bathroom to take a piss he noticed he looked like a bum. His hair was a mess and he hadn’t shaved in months. It was his new grunge style. An I don’t care but still care kind of style. He wore all black and his sixty-dollar t-shirt had a hole in it. He picked up his cappuccino and walked through a crowd of bumbling idiots to get to his car. This was the advantage to being a famous contemporary painter- no one knew who you were when out in public.
When Zev got out to his car he noticed that he left his door unlocked and forgot to take the keys out of the ignition. He called himself an idiot as he backed his car out of the parking lot. He drove and smoked a cigarette as he drank his cappuccino. It was sunny but he didn’t have sunglasses on. He loved how the mixture of coffee and cigarettes tasted. He listened to Outside The Dream Syndicate as he drove and he thought about all the ways that Amy could be deceiving him. What didn’t he know about? How was it that she didn’t want to be with him anymore? It just didn’t make any sense. They had such a good life together. How could she want to be with this guy Arthur? He was a literary nerd. It didn’t make any sense. Zev checked his phone to see if Amy had texted him. This depressed him since Amy didn’t text him. He didn’t know it then but this would become a regular part of his life. Waiting for texts from Amy. Getting depressed when a day would go by without any texts from her. Zev Bauhaus didn’t have any friends. He surrendered all his friendships for his career and for his marriage. He didn’t get many texts now that Amy had slowed down on texting him. His phone was becoming an hourly reminder of his isolation.
It was sunny in Oxnard. Zev wasn’t sure why he had come. It was a quiet town. People loafing around and fishing boats slowly moving out to sea. Zev liked the tranquility of the place. There was the smell of fish and salt water in the air. Zev walked around looking at boats and birds and everything else that made its way into his field of vision. He walked down to the beach and stood in front of the ocean. The expansiveness of the ocean made him feel better. His problems seemed irrelevant in comparison. Nothing mattered except the present moment when standing in front of the sea. Oxnard felt like a strange place to Zev. The kind of place where David Lynch could film a movie. It was a quiet beach town where you could go to be forgotten. And it was only an hour or so drive from downtown LA where everyone was trying to be known. Zev sat on a bench and smoked. He looked out over an inlet with various people fishing from the rocks. It was a bit chilly out but the sky was devoid of almost all clouds. Zev Bauhaus thought about what he was going to do with his life. He didn’t want to do anything. He couldn’t believe that he and Amy were over. They had died. He felt sick inside.
As Zev walked along one of the marinas he noticed an old wood yacht for sale. The yacht looked like it was from the fifties or sixties. Old and worn down by time and salt water. The white paint was chipping away and some of the wood seemed to be rotting. Zev walked as close to the yacht as he could but he couldn’t get into the area where the boats were parked because of a locked gate. Inside the yacht it looked like there was a lot of mahogany or redwood. The yacht looked like it refused to lose its dignity and it floated with grace and class. It could be the perfect place for him to live. He knew that people lived on boats. Why couldn’t he do that? He had never lived on a boat before. He didn’t know the first thing about boats. But he thought that an old yacht would be a good enough place for him to restart. How much could it possibly cost to live on a boat? He had a good enough amount of money in his bank. Zev took a close look at the For Sale sign. It said the yacht was $20,000. That wasn’t bad. Less then he would have thought. Zev wrote down the phone number.
On his way back to Silverlake he thought about living on the old yacht. He saw himself as a kind of old man living on the sea. He could retreat from the world and live off the grid. He could start a new life while living on a boat. Draw his cartoons, make the paintings he wanted to make, read, listen to music and maybe write a novel. It would become a good way for him to hide out from the world. No one would be able to find him. He could disappear from his current life. Being by the ocean calmed him. He had always envied people who lived close to the ocean. He felt like he breathed better in the salt water air. It didn’t relieve his depression but it was nice breathing fresher air. Zev hadn’t called anyone in months but he called the number that was on the For Sale sign. He made an appointment to see the old yacht with the man who currently owned it. The man had owned the boat since it was brand new. It was a 1959 Chris Craft. Zev assumed the man was very old.
Zev was stuck in traffic. But he didn’t care this time. He smoked weed and thought about the yacht. Amy texted Zev asking if he wanted to have dinner. She would make something. He was happy to hear from her. It was strange to Zev that Amy still wanted to cook him dinner, would still have sex with him if he wanted to and was still generally friendly towards him. It gave Zev the impression that she was unsure about not wanting to be with him. Maybe he still had a chance to get her back. But when a woman makes up her mind it is like a name written into dried concrete. The decision is there for good. A woman rarely decides to retract her rejection of a man. She is nice only because of her guilt. She feels bad for what she is putting the heartbroken man through and gives her body and favors in a futile attempt to compensate for the pain she has caused. Women are by nature nurturers they say. This must mean that they feel responsible when they see someone they love in pain. Amy still did things for Zev not because she was interested in him or indecisive about her decision to separate but because she felt bad about the man Zev had become as a result of her not wanting to be with him anymore.
Amy was going away for three nights. To New York for the publication party of The Fantastic Nobody Life Of A Disappearing Man. Arthur and her had finished their work together and now the book was ready for readers. During the last stage of their editing work, Arthur would have his hand on Amy’s tit or he would try and reach down her pants and get a finger in her cunt. Sometimes Amy would purposefully lean over the table so that Arthur could grab her ass with his hand. They worked and played. Worked and played. Amy would reach for Arthur’s cock as they read through the manuscript. She would gently jack him off without unbuttoning his pants. Her nipples would be erect and his dick hard during most of the time they worked together. Sexual pleasure relieves the pain and boredom of work. It felt like they were back in high school.
There would be a party at the Ritz Carlton. There would be a lecture at NYU and at The New School. There would be a few independent bookstore readings which ended up having small lines out the door. Arthur’s career was looking up and he was making his way towards the pinnacle of popularity with younger intellectual and liberal readers. It was an exciting time for him. He was discovering a kind of confidence he hadn’t felt before. He seemed to be receiving a good amount of recognition as a writer and a very attractive and prominent editor was in love with him. He assumed he must be doing something right. Amy felt better than she felt in a long time. The stress of her and Zev felt gone. She was elated that she could contribute to Arthur’s success. It was a high to watch him prevail as a writer. This is what Amy loved most about love. She loved receiving the adoration, devotion and control that came from helping the object of her love to become a better person. This is what she did best. It’s how she won over a person without them ever seeing the cruelty and selfishness that lived inside of her.
Amy didn’t tell Zev exactly why she was going to New York. She said it was for work and that she had to attend to publication parties. It wasn’t an absolute lie. When Zev asked her if the publication parties were for Arthur’s book she told him that one of them was. She could tell that Zev was furious about this and she assured him that it was not a romantic vacation. She was not sharing a room with Arthur. She didn’t even know if she would see him. They would be working most of the time and Arthur was going to be very busy. Zev hated Arthur. Arthur was getting in his way. He hated what he was becoming because of Arthur. He considered asking Amy to swear on her life that she wasn’t going to be sharing a room with Arthur but he decided not to. He was certain that Amy would be with Arthur more than she was telling him. Amy would lie about anything to avoid conflict. She liked to have her own secrets. Her secrets turned her on. They turned Zev on as well. Before Amy left, Zev turned her around and pulled down her pants and underwear. He forced her onto their bed because he could. Amy rested her arms on her suitcase, which was open on the bed. Zev was fully erect before he could get his pants off. When he stuck his dick inside Amy she was already wet. He didn’t have to try. The resentment and bitterness between them was enough to make her horny. Zev fucked Amy from behind for a few minutes. He called her a slut. A little lying slut, is what he said. Amy agreed with him. She told him that she was a little whore. She couldn’t help it. She stuck out her tongue and Zev caught a glimpse of it from the side. She kept calling herself a whore and a little slut. She loved being penetrated. Zev orgasmed deep inside of her. All his seminal fluid was emptied out into the deepest parts of her. Zev fell back into the chair and Amy fell flat on the suitcase. Zev didn’t care if Amy had orgasmed or not. He never really did.
Zev pulled up his pants and Amy turned around. He asked her if she wanted a towel and she said no thanks. She said she liked the idea of traveling to New York with cum in her. Zev told her to do as she wished. He had fucked her not because he loved her but because he was completely turned on by how slutty she was. She was the whore he always wanted. Amy tried to hug Zev before she left but Zev pulled back. He knew she was going to New York with Arthur. That bitch. He told her that he would be gone when she got back. He would find some other place to stay. It was not right what she was doing with Arthur. It was cruel and unfair. How could she think it was ok to go to New York with Arthur? How could she think that doing so would not end their marriage? Amy wasn’t happy that Zev would be gone when she came back but she understood. She knew this was the risk she was taking. She would figure out the financial aspects of things later. Amy told Zev that she wanted him to do whatever he needed to do to take care of himself. Zev turned around and walked away before Amy was out the door and he felt bad about it. What if she died in a plane crash? Their final moment together would be him turning away from her as she left. So much love in the beginning and so much despair at the ending. The thought pained him. Amy took an Uber to Arthur’s apartment and Arthur and Amy travelled to New York together.
Random House was trying to attract a younger and more intellectual consumer base. They were publishing more hip, young writers. Intellectual and nerdy types. Writers obsessed with gender terms, race relations, sexual equality and pretending to be weirder than they were. Arthur’s book of essays was expected to be a big seller for Random House. He was going to be the new Bret Easton Ellis. They had high hopes for Arthur’s book so they paid him quit a lot for the rights to his book. They also paid for two first class tickets to New York and a five night stay at The Ritz Carleton. Amy and Arthur felt like they made it in the literary world. This was it. On the plane ride, they slept covered in soft wool blankets and they drank top shelf liquor. Arthur wasn’t a big drinker but he couldn’t resist the Hendrick’s Gin Amy kept ordering. They watched episodes of The Office, laughed and Amy kept her hand on Arthur’s cock for a lot of the way. It made them both less nervous.
Arthur and Amy shared the same room at The Ritz Carlton. They did almost everything together. It was as if they were attached by a string. Amy wanted to be there with Arthur and Arthur wanted Amy there. They went to investigate areas were Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground hung out. They went by the spot were CBGB used to be. They walked around Greenwich Village. They walked around Times Square and went into one of the last remaining sex shops with a porn movie theatre inside. They ate in seedy Asian restaurants and ate fast food. Amy went to Arthurs various readings and lectures. She went to cocktail parties with him. She went to the publication party at the Ritz and was by Arthur’s side the entire time. Everyone assumed that Arthur and Amy were together and many wondered about what had happened with Zev Bauhaus. But nobody asked her and Amy had forgotten that she was even married. Zev wasn’t texting her and she wasn’t about to text him. She removed her ring in the Uber before getting to Arthur’s apartment. This was time for Arthur and Amy to be together. Zev Bauhaus spent most of his time home alone. He didn’t go anywhere.
I have paid someone to come and point a gun at me. I am paying him $60.00 a session to keep the gun pointed at me until I finish a chapter. I have instructed this gun pointer that I must write one chapter while he is here. This means I must write it, edit it and then post it on my blog. If I am not able to do all of this for any reason, I have instructed the gun owner to shoot me. I have also instructed him to come shoot me if he does not hear from me in seven days in a row because that means I quit writing the novel (I had to pay him an advance for this). It’s the only way I will write this novel.
Every time I want the gun pointer to come and point his gun at me, I just need to send him a text and give him about an hour or so. When he does get here I have a chair prepared for him. He likes where I have placed the chair because it gets a lot of sun as he sits pointing his gun at me. The chair is a comfortable chair, which I have placed right besides my desk. I have no idea what kind of gun he points at me. It seems to be a different one each week. Today he had a shotgun but I don’t know the make. So far I have spent over two thousand dollars on this project. I presume I will spend at least a thousand more. It’s the only way I will write this novel.
The gun pointer asked me if it bothered me that he was just sitting there pointing a gun at me as I typed. I told him that it didn’t bother me much. By chapter eleven I had gotten used to his presence. The gun pointer does smoke and so do I, so that works out well. The gun pointer keeps asking me how much longer I will need him for. I tell him I don’t know. I need his presence for however long it takes. He needs to be here when I text. It’s the only way I will write this novel.
I’ve explained to the gun pointer that writing a novel is very challenging work for me. It exhausts me and takes just about everything I have. Even writing and editing three or four pages. I assume this is because of the subject matter of Sell Out Man. It is a difficult novel to write. I tell the gun pointer that if he is not here I will do everything I can to avoid writing this novel. I will kayak around. I will organize. I will go for walks. I will look at naked photos of women on Twitter. I will read. I will sleep. I will give in to my resistance and that is why I need him here. I have a story to tell that I don’t really want to tell but need to tell. It’s the only way I will write this novel.
I think the gun pointer thinks I am nuts. Maybe I am. Maybe I have lost my mind. I don’t really know. Maybe a writer needs to lose their mind to write a decent novel. I don’t even know if my novel is any good but I continue to write. I have a story to tell and if I don’t tell it now I never will. This is the essence of all good literature, I tell the gun pointer. He tells me that he is a simple man. He lives on his boat with his dog. He doesn’t get involved in these kind of affairs. I tell him that is ok. He is probably better off and I appreciate his presence. I need him to want to be here. It’s the only way I will write this novel.
He’s doing it for the money, he tells me. He could care less about me. I am already a has been. I mean nothing to this world. Who care about novels like Sell Out Man. What a waste of time. Why not do something more productive and useful? Sometimes I think he dislikes me enough to shoot me. I get slightly concerned but that is ok. It’s the only way I will write this novel.
Chapter Twenty Three
A famous contemporary painter who suddenly disappears from the art scene can’t escape the scrutiny of the public for long. People were taking notice of Zev Bauhaus’s absence. In the quarterly art journal Art Texta brief article was written about how Zev Bauhaus no longer had the prestige he once did. The article exposed the cancellation of several of Zev’s upcoming shows. This article brought more attention to Zev. Not the kind of attention anyone would want. In The Sokal Hoax, a literary and art magazine, the prominent cultural critic Dorothy Niken wrote a scathing article about how Zev Bauhaus had been partly responsible for shaping the work of so many contemporary abstract painters but that he no longer held that elevated position anymore. She wrote about how the quality of Zev’s work had been in steep decline over the years and now with his disappearance from the art world he had exposed himself as the burnout he had become. The article was called A Fall From Abstract Grace.
There was an article written in Higher Superstition, a very hip cultural magazine, which suggested that Zev Bauhaus was a scapegoat being used to divert attention away from the sad state of contemporary abstract art. Marissa read these various articles but Zev did not. He didn’t care and he didn’t want to know. Why would he care about such things when his life was falling apart? Zev didn’t understand then, and he wouldn’t understand for a long time, that his life was falling apart because he could not stop obsessing about Amy and what she had done to him. Zev had forgotten about himself. He had ceased all forms of exercise and didn’t care about what he ate. His quality of dress greatly declined. He no longer cared if he wore the same black jeans for days in a row and didn’t take much time combing his hair. He often neglected shaving. The times that Zev did come into the studio, Marissa noticed how shitty he looked. He had lost weight and looked like a skeleton of his former self. Marissa couldn’t help feeling responsible for this. Something in her knew that Zev Bauhaus was on the verge of closing the studio. He would retreat into some other world and it was her fault. But Zev would be free and she couldn’t help but see this as an opportunity.
Marissa was masturbating more frequently. Work at the studio had become more languorous and dull. Zev wasn’t working much anymore and there was nothing to do. Unfinished paintings stood around like forgotten relics. She would come home at night, make herself dinner and read while on her couch. It happened every time. As she read she would gradually start to pleasure herself. She couldn’t read for more than ten minutes without putting her fingers on her wet pussy. She had been feeling unusually horny but assumed it was because she was not getting laid. It was better that she was pleasuring herself than dealing with some guy. Guys were so much work. As she ran her fingers through her pussy she would visualize Zev. Why Zev? He looked terrible. In her mind she would see him in his disheveled and degenerate state and this turned her on. She liked guys who looked beaten up and grungy. It was a cool nineties look. She would imagine Zev on top, vigorously penetrating her as she looked up at him. Or she would visualize herself giving Zev oral sex and this imagine almost always made her cum. She was certain he had a nice penis. Why was she so obsessed with Zev? Especially now in his miserable state. Was something wrong with her? After Marissa orgasmed she would brush her teeth and fall asleep alone in bed. Sometimes she thought she might die this way.
Zev and Amy spent Saturday together. They drove into the industrial section of the Arts District in Downtown LA and tried out a new outdoor bar. There were cactuses and fire pits everywhere. People could smoke there. Zev ordered an IPA and Amy ordered a cocktail. They sat under an umbrella, listened to the music being played and didn’t talk much to each other. There was a palpable tension between them but they were trying to do something fun together. They both smoked cigarettes and drank their first drinks quickly. Amy got up and bought them another round. The alcohol buzz was gradually loosening them up and they started to talk. Not about anything in particular. Just about bullshit. But Zev was angry. It was hard for him to casually talk with Amy. He felt like she should be making more of an effort to be affectionate with him considering what she was putting him through. She wasn’t holding his hand. She wasn’t rubbing his back. She wasn’t giving him a kiss. There was a real distance between them that he didn’t like. He was sure she wasn’t like this with Arthur.
When Zev was angry at Amy she had no desire to be affectionate with him. She was repelled by him. Amy knew that if she made more of an effort to be affectionate with Zev he would gradually loosen up. But she didn’t want to make the effort. She wasn’t that concerned with Zev anymore. She wasn’t going to try and alleviate his anger by doing things she didn’t want to do. It was up to Zev to be more loving with her. Zev assumed that Amy’s lack of affection was the result of it all going towards Arthur. Zev bought the next round of drinks and they ordered food from a food truck that was parked outside the bar. They ate in silence. Amy was disgusted by the chewing sounds that Zev made. It made her feel rage inside. Amy couldn’t wait to go home. She went to the bathroom for an unusually long time. Zev was convinced she was texting with Arthur and felt insulted that she would do this while out with him.
In the car ride home, they were both on the verge of drunkenness. Zev blew smoke out of the driver’s side window and played Tony Conrad’s Ten Years Alive On the Infinite Plain. Amy couldn’t stand this kind of long-durational, minimalistic music. What was the point? Zev would tell her that it was therapeutic. It put the brain in a contemplative state. But Amy was always too much on the go. She was a quick girl, racing through life. She needed more melody and tempo. Zev smoked marijuana as he drove on the highway back to their Silverlake home. He was upset that Amy still wasn’t paying much attention to him. She didn’t even talk to him about his dwindling career. She didn’t seem to show much concern about his declining health. She didn’t show much interest in him at all. Thoughts like these ran through Zev’s head and he couldn’t help but tell Amy once again that he knew she was in love with Arthur. He knew that she was in that bathroom for a long time because she was texting with her dishrag boyfriend. Zev was wrong. She had been taking naked selfies in the hip bathroom to send to Arthur at a later time.
Once they arrived back at the house, while standing in the living room, Amy told Zev that she couldn’t take it anymore. She wanted out of the marriage. They needed to separate. Something needed to change. Zev Bauhaus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was shocked that Amy wanted to leave him. He stayed with her after her transgressions. Her lack of loyalty infuriated him. The one woman he was certain he would grow old with was telling him she wanted a divorce. How could this be? He knew it was because she was leaving him to be with Arthur. Amy was leaving him for another man. This was a thought that was impossible for Zev to comprehend. It caused cracks to form in his bones. It caused restrictions in his arteries. Most oxygen left his body and he flew into a rage. He called Amy a fucking bitch and a whore. He told her that he hoped she died. He would be better off if she was just dead. He kicked the living room coffee table piled with art books into the air. He was throwing a temper tantrum. Amy was mortified to hear that Zev wanted her dead. Was her life at risk? Zev walked quickly into his home studio and slammed the door. Things fell off the walls. Amy broke down in tears in the living room. Of course Zev didn’t want her dead. He was just very hurt and said things he didn’t mean. How else could he hurt her back?
Zev’s heart was beating fast and deliberately. What was he going to do? Amy was leaving him for a younger man. That bitch. He sat down in his Eames recliner and lit a cigarette. He smoked it quickly and lit another one. His mind was racing and he couldn’t focus. He was worried that he might have a panic attack. His eye site was pixelating and Zev did the only thing he knew how to do to calm himself when on the verge of a panic attack. He took out his cock and started masturbating. Thankfully he was alone.
Chapter Twenty Two
Zev didn’t care about anything anymore. He was wearing socks that didn’t match. He put on the same pants every day. He stopped paying bills and avoided all phone calls, even more than he had before. He didn’t talk to anyone other than Amy and Marissa. He dragged his weighted and anxious body around. He neglected his life. Maybe some would say he had fallen apart. Others might say he was ruined. Galleries and art dealers were calling. Marissa was pressuring him. He didn’t care. He was losing a lot of weight and was in a state of continual distress. He had been looking on-line about various ways to kill himself. He didn’t realize there were so many different ways to do it. But he wasn’t ready to kill himself. He would take his time. Wait for the slight feeling of hope in his gut to disappear. Then he would shoot or asphyxiate himself. For now, fear kept him stuck in the situation he was in. He was too afraid to change anything.
Zev needed some sort of consolation. He retreated into making his minimalistic cartoons. He put his thoughts and feelings in there. He was drawing his comics in cheap, black and white composition books. He used a black felt pen and bought ten composition books at a time at the dollar store. He would fill his composition books quickly. There are few things that inspire brutally honest creativity like emotional pain. Zev started to journal more. He would write about everything he was feeling and he was never convinced that journaling was a good idea. Too much self-indulgence isn’t always a good thing. He wrote a lot about Amy and what she had done. He expressed his hatred and despair through the written word. He would coach himself. He would tell himself to just be cool. Don’t be a fool. Stay strong. Emotional pain could care less about clichés. He would tell himself to accept things as they were and have his fun with Amy. He didn’t know how long his marriage would last but he wanted to find a way to stay with Amy and not be so angry all the time. They were fighting a lot and the stress was taking a toll. His chest was continually tight and his stomach in a continual state of nauseous agitation.
Zev had been in a similar position many times before. Unresolved feelings were surfacing. Every woman he had been in a serious relationship with had betrayed him. There had been three. Cari, his long-term girlfriend in his twenties, who loved it when he fucked her in the ass. She was the first girl he had penetrated from behind. She had cheated on him several times during their fifth and sixth year together. Zev spent many hours in the bushes outside of their apartment waiting to discover what was going on. Cari wasn’t dumb. She never fucked her lovers in their apartment. Liz, who he was with for four years, had fallen in love with another man and ended up marrying him shortly after leaving Zev. Kathleen, who he had been helplessly in love with, had been sleeping with both men and women even during their first week together. Zev hadn’t been lucky in love. But he never doubted that with Amy it would be different. Finally, he had found someone who would never do that to him.
Now that Amy had cheated, he was in despair. It’s what happens when the unexpected happens. He had never thought beyond this point. He had never assumed he and Amy would not be together. He didn’t have to imagine Amy with someone else. Amy understood how traumatized he had been by women in the past but she also understood how it could happen. Amy imagined that Zev was just as neglectful, mad and unpleasant to all of them as he was with her and finally they got tired of it. But of course she refrained from telling him this. She couldn’t help but wonder if what she was doing with Arthur was a kind of revenge. She didn’t like to think of herself as a vengeful woman but maybe she was. Maybe betraying Zev was how she asserted her power and got him back. Women know how to destroy men who they have had enough of.
Zev contemplated leaving Amy. He could just leave. He had enough cash in the bank. He could start over. Be free of Amy and her mess. This was his way out. He could be liberated from all the frustration she caused him. If he stayed with her things would only get worse. He would be suspicions and disdainful all the time. He would go to bed angry every night. Zev asked Amy if she was going to end things with Arthur but she could never give him a solid answer. Amy didn’t want Zev telling her what to do. Zev continually probed Amy about Arthur. Was she in love with him? Was she in love with him? Was she in love with him? Was she in love with him? Zev asked her this again and again. It didn’t stop coming because deep down Zev believed it was true. But Amy never gave him the answer he was looking for. She would tell Zev that she felt no feelings of love for Arthur. She liked fucking him. She had a good time with him. Zev kept digging. It was almost as if he wanted Amy to tell him that she was in love with Arthur and was going to be with him. This would give Zev no choice. He would have to split. But he was too afraid to do it on his own. As long as he had a choice, he sold himself out. Zev had proven this to himself by now.
If being filled with despair and hurt wasn’t enough, Zev also felt the pain of gashes in his chest created by jealousy. He was filled with jealousy. Every time Amy was out, he assumed she was with Arthur. When Amy was on her phone, he was convinced she was texting with Arthur. She was in love with another man. Another man was fucking her. He had been betrayed. Zev was in a continual low-level sweat from the high levels of cortisol being released into his body. But for some reason the jealousy turned him on. It made him want to rip Amy apart with his dick. It freed him up to treat Amy like the slut and horrible person that he thought she was. This turned him on. Zev was continually coming on to Amy. It was a new dynamic in their relationship. He was actually asking her if she wanted to fuck. He made her lick his asshole. He urinated and orgasmed in her face. He called her terrible names, pulled her hair and made her do all the work. Occasionally he would slap her in the face. Zev couldn’t help it. He liked slapping her when she was nude. Amy never liked it. It would make her angry. But Zev would tell her to shut up and to keep doing what she was doing. Amy obliged only because she knew she had to try and make up for her transgressions. Maybe Zev wouldn’t hate her as much.
Amy was now having sex with two guys. Sometimes three. There were also girls. Zev couldn’t know everything. But Amy didn’t mind things this way. She liked having sex. It was her stress relief and she could do it every day. It was the best way she had found to get away from the drudgery of her work. It made sense to her. If Zev wanted to have sex with her she wasn’t going to tell him it was a bad idea. That he should take some space. He was an adult. Zev would tell Amy that she had to stop seeing Arthur. She needed to put an end to things. But a few days would go by and Zev would change his mind. He would realize how much it turned him on that she was in love with another guy. It made him feel pathetic and for some reason this pathetic feeling stimulated his libido. He would tell Amy that he didn’t care if she kept seeing Arthur and he would try and be alright with things. Amy didn’t care either way. She was going to keep seeing Arthur whether Zev agreed or not. No man was going to tell her what she could do with her pussy.
The conflict between Zev and Amy got in the way of everything. There was continual fighting punctuated by fucking. Furniture was thrown. Yelling filled the hallways. Bills went unpaid. Zev would accuse Amy of being a psychopath and Amy would accuse Zev of having Borderline Personality Disorder. Zev was certain she had cheated with other men. Amy wasn’t going to reveal all her secrets. She told him some things. She told him about the guy’s dick that she sucked at their party. She told him about a girl she had made out with but really fucked. Amy was exhausted by Zev. She was falling behind on her work and drinking more at night. She even started smoking cigarettes. Zev wasn’t showing up much to work. Several galleries shows had to be cancelled. No one cared that they were falling apart.
Months passed in an unraveled state. Amy would tell Arthur all about it. Arthur hoped he never crossed paths with Zev even though he would fight him if he had to. He was younger and would probably win but Zev had rage on his side. If Amy spent too much time in the bathroom, Zev would become angry. If she wasn’t home at an early hour, Zev would become angry. If she didn’t spend as much time on the house, Zev would become angry. It was a continual uprising of the worst parts of Zev. He was being made crazed by all of this. Amy did what she could to control the anger outbreaks but she wasn’t going to stop seeing Arthur. Now she had to go over to Arthur’s apartment. Sometimes she wanted to spend longer periods of time with Arthur and would not come home till late. This would make Zev rage and Amy would get very stressed out. Her hair was falling out. But it wasn’t enough stress to make her stop doing what she wanted to be doing. Arthur’s hard working dick and adoration drew her back every time.
The stress of the relationship was gradually making Zev and Amy sick. Zev lost weight and Amy put some weight on. They were both neglecting their financial situation. And their work. Their thoughts were dark. They contracted a bacterial rash which saw an opportunity to take hold because of their lowered immunity. The rash was all over Zev’s back and it was on Amy’s face and chest. Sometimes they looked diseased. Zev’s hair had turned grayer. They were both depressed and tired most of the time. Amy was drinking more and Zev was smoking a lot of marijuana to alleviate his pain. He coughed a lot but didn’t care. His cigarette expense doubled. Amy never knew when Zev would get angry and this unpredictability gave her anxiety. But most tension between people is sexual tension. Zev and Amy needed a release. They kept fucking even though they should have stopped. Something had to change or else someone was going to eventually get killed. Fate had to take over sooner or later.
Amy and Zev decided to have another home sex show. It’s what they liked to do when boredom creeped into their lives. They drank gin, ate dinner and flipped through Tinder together looking for some stray and horny guy to invite over. They referred to the guy as bait. None of the men Amy made contact with seemed willing to take the risk of coming to her home to have sex. Amy felt like it was too much work to get a young man to come over to their house. At least this is what she told Zev. She took a shower and told Zev that she would keep looking for someone. But she really wanted to have Arthur come over. These home sex shows were just another opportunity for Amy to be with Arthur and she wanted to take every opportunity she could get. Amy texted Arthur asking him if he was free to come over and have sex quickly. She told him Zev would not be home for a few more hours. Even though Arthur was nervous about being in Amy’s house close to a time that Zev was expected home, he told her he would be right over. He had been masturbating anyways.
When Amy got out of the shower she decided to not put any close on. They would soon be coming off anyways. She would answer the door naked when Arthur arrived. Amy understood that she had about an hour to do her sex show because Zev didn’t want to wait out in the cold for much longer than that. In the summer time the shows were longer but in the winter things needed to happen quickly. Amy applied make-up to cover the ravaged zits on her body. She plucked a few hairs down by her vagina and covered the reddish swelling with make-up. She dried her hair and made it nice and curly. She also applied a thick layer of red lipstick. She enjoyed these sex shows. She knew it turned Zev on. But in her mind, it wasn’t really for Zev. It was a way for her to have permissible sex with other men without feeling like she was cheating.
Zev grabbed his binoculars from his home studio. He had been using them to look out his windows at the various birds which would comingle in the trees. He would also spy into the windows of some of his neighbors. He would watch them for a while and think about how we all had our own private hells to contend with. Zev put on a thick parka to protect him from the cold. He gathered his marijuana and cigarettes and stuck them in the pocket of his coat. He then walked out into the front room where Amy was getting things ready. She was straightening pillows and lighting candles. She turned on the fireplace. Zev put a Suicide record on the turn table, which Amy had requested. Zev looked at Amy walking around nude. He thought about what a nice body she had. Her belly button piercing. Her polished toe nails and round ass. Her breasts which had yet to be defeated by gravity. She looked nearly perfect in the nude but if he looked closely he could see all the signs of aging.
Before going into the backyard Zev put on gloves. He told Amy to have sex on a part of the couch that allowed him to see better from outside. Amy wanted to put on a good show and was more than happy to do anything that he liked. She asked him if he wanted her to do anything else. Zev told Amy that he wanted her to gag on the guy’s dick and give him a good sucking. He also told Amy that he wanted to see her have anal sex without a condom. Zev knew that this was risky but the extreme perversity of it turned him on. Amy pretended to be cautious about having sex without a condom. She didn’t know if it was a good idea. But this was all an act. It was one of the reasons why she preferred having Arthur come over for these sex shows. She knew Zev liked watching her have sex without a condom and she had already been having sex with Arthur without a condom for a long while. It was the safest bet.
Zev kissed Amy goodbye and smacked her on the ass. He also grabbed one of her breasts. He felt turned on. He told Amy to slut it up and he walked out into the backyard a few minutes before Arthur was expected to arrive. Zev situated himself by the garden box and made sure he had a good view of the couch from where he stood. Then he took a few puffs of marijuana and smoked a cigarette. He always enjoyed the combination of the two. Zev pulled over a garden chair and sat in it for a moment. He knew that what he was doing was nuts but that is why he enjoyed it. He heard dogs barking in the distance and he checked his phone for the time. It was almost 11pm.
Arthur and Amy immediately started having sex on the couch. When Amy answered the door in the nude Arthur threw himself at her. He forced her down onto the couch and started kissing her. They kissed deeply and this concerned Zev. Amy didn’t normally kiss guys like that and they certainly didn’t kiss that way. Arthur then went down on Amy and buried his face in her vagina. He rubbed his lips around her clit and stuck his tongue inside of her. Amy stretched out her arms, curled her spine and screamed out in pleasure. Zev didn’t like this as well. As he watched through his binoculars he noticed that he started to feel very pissed off. He wanted to kill Arthur as Arthur continued to pleasure his wife. Zev noticed that the more angered he became the more erect his dick became. Even though he didn’t want to, he had no choice but to pull his dick out and start masturbating. Amy was on top of Arthur. Zev could hear Suicide playing inside. He could hear their pleasure screams. Amy wasn’t using a condom and this turned him on. He hoped she would let Arthur cum inside of him even though he knew it was a reckless idea.
Amy managed to turn herself around and have anal sex with Arthur right in the spot Zev had asked her to. As Arthur forcefully pumped himself into Amy, Zev felt incredibly turned on. He masturbated in the darkness of his backyard garden. Kale and lettuce grew right under his dick and he didn’t care if he orgasmed on them. He figured semen was good for the soil. He masturbated and masturbated until he realized that Arthur and Amy were orgasming at the same time. Amy and Arthur both yelled out and screamed various profanities as their bodies wiggled in orgasmic pleasure. She had let Arthur cum inside of her! This angered Zev so much that when he orgasmed his semen flew several feet over to where the beets and radishes were growing. Zev also screamed out in pleasure, exploding his semen all over the vegetables he and Amy were growing. Arthur and Amy collapsed into one another and Zev sat down in the garden chair with his pants still down. He was breathing heavy as he lit a cigarette. It was one of the best orgasms he had had in a long time. But once the high of the orgasm faded the anger started to creep back in. Something was not right between Arthur and Amy. The amount of jealousy that he felt was telling him something. But he tried to ignore it.
Zev walked back inside just after Arthur left. He watched Arthur and Amy kiss goodbye and didn’t like it at all. Amy was still sitting on the couch naked and she asked Zev if he orgasmed. He told her that he came on the vegetables. Amy laughed. She asked Zev for a cigarette and Zev sat down beside her. Zev told her that it was a great show. Completely hot even though he knew it was a terrible idea to have Arthur orgasm inside of her anal cavity. Even though there was no risk of pregnancy, Zev knew the risks of disease. But his carnal perversions always got the best of his better judgement.
Zev felt suspicious of Amy as she sat there stroking her clit on the couch. Questions began to take shape in his mind. She asked Zev if he wanted to have sex but he told her he was worn out. Zev asked Amy if she liked the guy she had just had sex with. He told Amy that he noticed she kept having the same guy back to their house and wondered if there was anything going on. Amy thought the suggestion was ridiculous. Just some boy toy that she liked to fuck, is what she told Zev. How stupid of him for even suggesting that idea. Amy didn’t tell Zev that she was having Arthur over to their house several times a week. She didn’t tell him that she was editing his book of essays. She didn’t tell him that they were in love. She couldn’t do that because she had too much to lose. And Zev didn’t notice Arthur was the same guy who he had seen walking out of their front gate a few months ago.
` Zev knew that something didn’t feel right but he tried to let it go. When Amy got in bed next to him he felt this urge to ask her if she was in love with that guy. The way they were sexual together, the way their bodies interacted, the pleasure in her face- it all suggested signs of two people in love. Zev kept his question to himself. He knew that it was a ridiculous thing to ask even though it felt right. It was as if there was a part of Zev’s brain which was now convinced that Amy was in love with that guy. He couldn’t get rid of the feeling. He knew that if he asked Amy she would only become defensive. She was about to fall asleep anyways. Zev turned out his bedside light and then gradually fell asleep as the fire in his head subsided. That night Amy and Zev fell asleep on opposite sides of the bed. They didn’t tell each other that they loved each other before falling away into the dark void of sleep.
Amy was sitting at the kitchen table. She was working on editing a short story that would be published in WORD. You could see the lines in her forehead created by aging and an overabundance of concentration. When Zev walked into the room she didn’t look up. She didn’t even really hear him. Zev placed the deodorant container and the empty package of razors on the counter. He stood there looking down on Amy. Amy looked up at Zev and could immediately tell that something was wrong. His look was indignant and afraid. In a tone that exposed underlying anxiety, Zev asked her why these things were in the trash. Amy played dumb and acted like she knew nothing about it. When Zev told Amy that he had never used these low-life men’s product and didn’t understand how they got in the bathroom trash, she said that there was no way she could know.
Amy had to think fast. Her anxiety and heart rate increased. She was close to the point of being caught and if she was caught her entire life would come crumbling down. Zev would leave her and seek revenge. He would reveal her sexual secrets and be socially humiliated by the man who was once her husband. Her career would be irrevocably damaged, if not destroyed. This is what she feared at least. It was only when Amy was up against deadlines that she would really get the job done. She was not a self-motivator. Her genius needed to be shifted into high gear by circumstances or someone else. Amy worked best when under pressure. She had a mind that worked faster than Zev’s mind. She knew she could out smart him when she needed.
Amy told Zev that some of the writers who came to the house for meetings would use the bathroom before they left. This was not uncommon. Maybe one of them had used the razors and deodorant and then placed it in the trash? This was a reasonable explanation in Zev’s mind. It was a scenario that could believably occur. Zev asked why she didn’t notice that when one of the writers came out of the bathroom with a cleanly shaved face, that he obviously must have just shaved in the bathroom. How could she not know that someone was shaving in their bathroom? Amy told Zev that she didn’t notice that sort of thing. She told Zev that she wasn’t interested in what the writers she worked with looked like. She was too busy for that sort of thing. Work was work. Zev had a hard time believing it. Zev told her that it all seemed a little strange and Amy asked him in a rude tone if he thought she was fucking someone. Zev told her that sometimes it seemed like that but that he didn’t know. Amy felt enraged that Zev would question her integrity even though her integrity was not one of her stronger points. She yelled at Zev for even suggesting that she would be fucking one of the writers she worked with. That would never happen, she told him. How dare he. Amy had enough vitriol in her face to convince a charging army to turn the other way.
Amy was convincing enough in her defense. Zev picked up the package and empty deodorant container and stuck it in the trash. He told her to please not let the people she worked with in their home shave in their bathroom. He found that revolting and disgusting. Zev was not a fan of anyone else’s presence in his house. He was repulsed by the mere suggestion that one of those pathetic and trendy contemporary writers was sitting on his toilet. Amy agreed to be more stringent about her guidelines for using the bathroom and Zev was satisfied with that. Zev told Amy that he was sorry for the misunderstanding and Amy told him that it was ok. Zev left the room with an odd feeling in the pit of his stomach. It was the kind of gnawing feeling a person gets when they can’t seem to find resolution within themselves, no matter how much they want it.
Amy sat at the kitchen table looking dumbly into her computer. She texted Arthur that she couldn’t meet with him that night. Something came up and she needed to lay low for a bit. Arthur responded concerned and upset. Amy told Arthur to never leave any of his shit in her garbage ever again. When Arthur asked her what she meant she told him about what Zev had found. It was then that Arthur remembered putting those things in the trash. He felt a wave of fear come over him. Had he blown it? He asked Amy if everything was alright and Amy told him that he was getting too comfortable at her house and he needed to stay on his game. Arthur told her that he would and that he felt like an idiot. Amy said that it was ok. It wasn’t his fault. She would see him in two days. They already had their next date made. She told Arthur that she had just averted catastrophe. She didn’t bother telling him that she had just deceived and pathologically lied to her husband. Arthur would not have minded that.
The essay about Zev Bauhaus came out in the most recent issue of BOMB Magazine. The essay was written by the well-established contemporary art critic and essayist Hanna Hartman. She had written several long essays on feminism, Jungian analysis and contemporary thought in art and popular culture which had attracted much critical attention. In the essay on Zev Bauhaus Hanna focused on the ideas behind Zev’s paintings. Hanna lived in Buenos Aires and interviewed Zev several times over the phone. Zev was stoned when he talked to her and he talked about his art in a way that he would not have if he was not stoned. When not stoned he had little to say about his art because he wasn’t sure what it all meant. He was just making pretty paintings for rich people to buy, is what he thought.
Zev told Hanna that the ideas for his paintings came from a place that light does not reach. When she asked him about this he told her that it was from the realm of the unconscious that his ideas came. In her essay, Hanna tied together Jungian ideas about the unconscious with the ideas behind Zev’s images. She wrote about how a major transformation is continually happening in the abstract paintings of Zev Bauhaus. It was a continual and perpetual transformation occurring before the viewer’s eyes. The abstracted images offered transformative ideas about oneself in relation to the blank space of our inner universe. A new way of envisioning our personal experience as human beings was expressed through the paintings. Once Zev’s ideas reach the surface, they set off a series of reactions that eventually take form where we can experience it with our own minds. Hanna eloquently and in a postmodern vernacular wrote about how she was no artist but as a non-artist she could still grasp the ideas behind the process. The best ideas that appear are the ones that come out from the dark and this why Zev Bauhaus’s paintings were of important inherent value as a modern object. We need these ideas to keep us human in inhuman capitalistic times, Hanna concluded.
Zev liked the essay. Amy had read it first. She always read essays and articles about Zev’s work first to make sure that there was nothing in it that would upset Zev. When Zev first came to be known as a painter he read many negative reviews and essays about his work. They upset him because Zev was sensitive towards what others thought of his work. He would become depressed and angry for extended periods of time, so Amy had gotten into the habit of checking the articles and essays first. Zev didn’t even bother with watching the numerous YouTube videos about his work. Amy thought the essay was flattering and she respected Hanna Hartman as a writer and contemporary thinker. She would write Hanna an email complementing her on her essay about Zev. Hanna and Amy would begin a correspondence with Amy eventually editing some of her essays. When Zev had finished reading the essay, he felt relieved. He always anticipated that people were going to write negative things about his work. Hanna didn’t do this.
A day or so after the BOMB essay came out, Zev started receiving a tidal wave of emails and phone calls. People wrote to tell him how much they appreciated his work. Others wanted to interview him. Galleries wanted him to have a one man show. A few modern art museums contacted him, interested in buying and archiving his work. Zev didn’t have a manager or agent to do his busy work. Marissa helped him with some of it but he was the one who had to return phone calls and send emails. He hated this part of his job and neglected a large chunk of it. Zev was an opportunist so he took advantage of the increase in opportunities coming his way. He agreed to sell one of his paintings to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He was going to have a one man show at a very prestigious modern art gallery in Buenos Aires. He was also going to have another one at a New York City modern art gallery. The essay had certainly put a kick in Zev’s career. He was unwillingly moving to the next level. But Zev went along with the momentum. He was getting older now and felt he should do what he needed to do to keep the money coming in.
When I make my paintings, I must have faith in time. I must believe that time is on my side, Zev told one interviewer as he toured him around his studio space. These images take time to appear. I have to give them this space to grow in. I always want to paint what I want to paint, the way I want to paint it. I think about the next steps later on. As Zev told the interviewer this, he didn’t believe himself. He felt like an imposter. He wondered if he was really painting what he wanted to paint or if that was just a lie he was telling himself and others. Was he painting what he wanted to paint or just doing what was safe?
Zev started working a lot more at his studio. He would be there from early in the morning till late at night, six days a week. Sometimes he would sleep in the bedroom at the studio. Zev wasn’t particularly happy about this increase in work but he was getting into it. When he was home he would always be angry at Amy. He felt like she was neglecting things. Dinners didn’t taste as good and the house wasn’t as clean as it was in the past. Since Amy was the one home most of the time it was Zev’s expectation that she keep their home looking nice. He wanted to come home and find everything in its right place. He wanted scented candles to be lit and nice music playing. Fresh flowers would help. But none of this was happening anymore. Amy straightened up around the house as much as she could but she didn’t care as much anymore. Her mind was on Arthur and work. Most of her energy was going into these places and this caused her to be more neglectful in her life with Zev. Zev’s anger pushed her further away.
Amy was happy that Zev was working more. She felt better when he was not around. She could be herself more and do the things she needed to do. When Zev was around he took up so much space. He was such a drag most of the time, especially recently. Amy was sick of Zev’s behavior and resented him. She resented him for not coming on to her more. She resented him for not taking control of her and giving her the pleasure she deserved. She resented him for not making her feel beautiful. She resented him for his desire to possess her like a wet sponge or something. She resented him for always being angry and unhappy despite all the wealth around him. She could hardly stand to be around the guy anymore and was happy that he was gone more now.
Amy decided to take more risks in Zev’s absence. She would have Arthur over for lunch or early dinners. When Zev told Amy that he was staying the night at the studio she would have Arthur come over and spend the night. This started to happen more and more. Arthur and Amy talked about their plans to be together. They talked about living in an apartment closer to the beach or maybe someday Arthur would live in the Silverlake house. Amy didn’t mean these things when she said them. She knew Arthur would never live in the Silverlake house. She couldn’t imagine that but she got caught up in the fantasy of her love affair and let all hesitation go. She was living in the dream that lovers live in.
Arthur knew that he would have to wait patiently. He told himself that he would just keep waiting things out. Eventually Amy would be with him. But she couldn’t be with him now. She was married to Zev Bauhaus and Arthur didn’t make the kind of money he would need to contribute to the lifestyle she was accustomed to. She couldn’t completely leave Zev for Arthur. Not now at least. But she told Arthur that one day they would be together. She talked to Arthur about her problems with Zev and used him as a sounding board. She would tell Arthur about how critical Zev was of her and how he didn’t want to have sex with her much of the time. She would tell him about how miserable it can be to be around Zev and Arthur did his best to listen and support her. But he was also trying get as much information from Amy about Zev because someday he thought he might write about him. She never told Arthur about the sex shows she had used him as a prop in. She felt this would give her away as the deceitful woman she was.
Arthur took shits in the same toilet that Zev shit in. He was sleeping in the bed right were Zev slept. He shaved in the sink that Zev shaved in. He showered in the shower that Zev showered in. He ate at the table that Zev ate at. He washed dishes in the sink that Zev washed dishes in. He sat on the couch were Zev sat. He was even allowed to wonder around in Zev’s studio and he sat in the lounge chair that Zev would sit in. Zev was being gradually replaced by the opposite version of himself. And he could feel this gradual erasure of himself whenever he was home. Amy almost seemed to not see him sometimes and he couldn’t resist the feeling that something was up. It was this feeling that caused him to think about checking the trash as he was shaving one morning. Evidence always appeared in the trash. That’s where people would forget. Zev finished shaving, dried his face and bent over to go through the small trash can that sat by the toilet. Zev found a wrapper for men’s Gillette razors. Zev never used Gillette razors before and he knew this MAGAPACK wasn’t for Amy because just under the razors was a discarded Old Spice deodorant container. Old Spice? He and Amy never used that crap. Who would think a discarded package of razors and a deodorant container could forever change a man’s life.