Just before he comes to Vermont Karl is driving a taxicab in Detroit, a place where even really poor people have their own cars and only unsuccessful drug dealers and addicts need a ride to some dark alley where the cab has to wait while the passenger borrows money for the fare. Before that he lived in San Francisco and listened to Stephen Gaskin speak and almost followed him to Tennessee. Before that he was in the Army for two years stationed in Japan and was a sergeant in the military police with erect bearing and a very short haircut. Before that he was married to a beautiful Danish artist and was so mean to her that she threw a hamburger at the wall and then went back to Denmark and divorced him. Before that he went to school in Denmark where he met his future wife and took LSD and once got propositioned by Paul Goodman in a lavatory.
Karl meets Susie when she stops in Detroit on her way to Vermont and like everyone he is enchanted though he has reservations about starting a relationship with a woman as mentally disheveled as Susie. Part of him wants to be a zen monk and meditate all day anyway, but the other part just wants to fuck. After Susie leaves the wanting to fuck part wins.
When Karl discovers that Susie is over him and already onto the next stage of her life, he sits down heavily at our kitchen table. He looks blank. He says maybe he will head to a Zen center in New York state that somebody told him about. I say, why not hang around here for awhile and take your time to decide. He sips a cup of coffee. The kitchen bustles with cooking and people and music, and hums with friendliness. I smile at him. I have a really big smile.
He decides to stay a few days, I think inertia is a stronger force than my charms. Then I really go to work. First, I have to disentangle myself from Stephen, which turns out to be more complicated than I think. I can’t just tell Stephen that I am going out to buy cigarettes and disappear. Then I have to turn Karl’s thoughts away from the Zen center and monkhood. Then I have to get him to fall in love with me.