Just before Susie arrives Joanne goes back to California, I think her husband was looking better the longer she stayed with Peter. She leaves Loopie with us and says she will make arrangements to get him later. So as things turn out, when Susie gets to Randolph Peter is at loose ends in the romance department and makes an all-out effort to woo her. It works, I know so well how it works.
Susie falls in love with Peter, I can’t say I didn’t expect it. She looks at him adoringly with her laughing crazy eyes, he is her guru to lead her through the karmic labyrinth and give her lots of babies. Douglas is still around but too shy to compete with Peter, so instead he just pretends to be happy for Susie and she ignores him. And I am really happy for Susie because if Peter doesn’t find another girlfriend quickly he will start being a nuisance to me.
Pretty soon, Jack arrives from Detroit. Jack is gay and heard all about the commune from Susie. Peter’s sister from Boston comes to live with us. She is pregnant, on the run from the police in Cambridge because her boyfriend was arrested for plotting to blow up a bank. They found the trunk of his car full of gunpowder scraped off cap gun ammunition strips. I am ashamed to say that I laugh when she tells us that. Then Peter’s little brother moves in. He ran away from boarding school, changed his name and went underground.
Judy finds a local boyfriend who is on disability, one of those tall rangy psychotics with a prominent Adam’s apple and funny chromosomes still having nightmares about Vietnam.
Then Karl arrives, do you hear the brass band? I am sitting barefoot on the front steps of the red house in the sun, wearing an ankle length cotton skirt and embroidered folky blouse. The road that runs in front of the house is dusty but I can see quite a distance in both directions. A few cars drive by. Toward my right is a field, an apple orchard, and then the landlord’s big brick house, to my left more trees and a meadow. Fall is in the air. I watch Karl walk down the road toward me, he looks like a biblical prophet with a beard and long hair, tall.
Does a girl named Susie live here, he asks as he gets close. I am nervous but I say sure, want to come in? We go inside and he is radiant, he is so happy to see Susie, he sold all his possessions and quit his job in Detroit to follow her, and now here he is, he is ready to pick up where they left off, ready to cherish her again, this time forever.
I run depressing scenarios in my head, Karl comes to see Susie, Susie dumps Peter, Peter is back on my hands. I cannot imagine that anyone would turn down this man for Peter.
But I lack imagination. Susie says to Karl, I am with Peter now, sorry but you missed your chance when you wouldn’t come to Vermont with me in the first place. It doesn’t matter that he regretted his decision almost immediately, put a pack on his back, and hitchhiked to Randolph. It doesn’t matter that he understands what a mistake he made and wants to rectify it now. It doesn’t matter at all.
If you ever want to see a man who has the rug pulled out from under him and has no idea what to do next, I give you Karl.