Rudimentary my dear Karma!
by Chris Quinlan 26th January 2001

z Karl Karma, musical private eye ....... another detective story ... go figure! (disclaimer: this story is fictional and not meant to represent the persons you think they might be)

It's a strange world we live in, I caught the train to Frankston station, my be-bop volkswagon was out of action with a well-blown head gasket and a few modifications; I walked down the platform avoiding the sneers from the tattooed teenage chicks with prams; classical music was being played over the announcement speakers to deter the drug pushers, for a while they tried fusion music, but that deterred everybody.

I waited outside the station to be picked up by Al Korg, our keyboard player, he was always late; last xmas I gave him a Melways because he couldn't remember his last route.

His car stopped with a jerk, the jerk got out and I got in, "Hey Al, what's happening?" ...."We got a gig" he replied, "But, we gotta hurry, we start playing in an hour, and we have to pick up Sol". Sol Bennet was our singer. we made it to his pad in quick time, Al hopped out and knocked on the door .... no answer .... I got out and Al and I knocked together, my knock sped up and Al's slowed down, it sounded like a Zappa Polyrhythm that would wake the dead, but it didn't. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't find any Sol.

Pissed off, we made our way to the gig, Bongo, our lead guitar player was already there setting up, "Where's Sol?" he asked "We don't know where he is, if he doesn't turn up you'll have to sing" ... Bongo's singing talents were famous from as far abroad as Broadmeadows to St. Albans; sounding like a drunk Mark Knopfler with a Werribee accent; If you took all the punters at the last gig Bongo sang at and laid them end to end, they would have slept more comfortably. Yep, we were in trouble.

The gig was the annual Cross-Dresser's picnic, I felt strangely out of step, as I was Flamming while they were Dragging, I couldn't help but wonder what happened to Sol; Our bass player, Dragovic Sonofabic, sneered and scowled all the way through the set, the only way I could get him to laugh on a Saturday was to tell him the joke on Friday. He hadn't been with the band long, and I hoped he wouldn't be for much longer; he bought a waterbed for his wife's birthday, two days later she was calling it "The Dead Sea".

As the cross dresser's gig finished with a flurry of mohair jumpers and pancake makeup, Al and I scurried back to Sol's pad to find the jazz police there dusting for prints ... "We're the band, what's going on?" A cop, Detective Coltrane came up to us and asked "Which one's Karma?" "I am" I replied "Are you the Private Dick?" he asked "Yeah, my dick used to be more public but now I don't get around much anymore." "Hmmm, a wise guy, well, your friend isn't going to be doing much more gigging .... he's dead" .... The silence was so loud you could hear an alto player's beat drop.

Ok, now we had work to do, Al and I walked into the bathroom; Sol was face down in the bath, his blue face had a smile, it seem he died happy .."Have you found a cause of death?" Al enquired; Detective Coltrane replied "Yeah, someone taped a mirror to the bottom of the bath and Mr Bennet drowned trying to kiss the reflection, a strange death for a drummer."

"Wait a minute, he's not the drummer, I am!" I said "Well, look in the back room, there's a drumkit and a bunch of cracked cymbals" Coltrane pointed to a storage room covered with egg-cartons, looks like Karl Karma and Al Korg had just been given their first clue, the secret past of Sol Bennet. Yep, the cymbals were cracked, they were all the same brand, Hula-Hoops Drum Co. .... now we had a place to visit.

Hula Hoops Drum Co. was a large bleak warehouse on the outskirts of town run by Morgana and Murgatroid Mudfinger, it was known that they had a had a hand in most musical things in town, but no-one was sure quite how deep; Al and I arrived and were ushered into the waiting room by Inga the beautiful secretary.... "Hmmm, what's that I smell on you" Al enquired, "Tommy" she casually replied "Great perfume" he said "Oh no, Tommy is my boyfriend" "Yoiks" Al quietly whispered.

"What can I do you for" Murgatroid Mudfinger asked with a puff of his havana-banana cigar ..... "Mr. Mudfinger, do you remember a drummer by the name of Sol Bennet?" I asked while non- chalantly turning green from the cigar smoke. "Hmmm, seems to ring a Bell Cymbal with me .... yes, that's right, about five years ago we had an endorsee by the name of Sol Bennet, we set him up with a deal and we were going to send him on some clinics."

"Which actual clinics did you set up for him?" Al asked. "Now that I think of it, I can't remember one, does it matter?" Mudfinger enquired "It might" I answered, "He's dead." "Oh dear", Mudfinger murmured with fake sentiment "What a pity, he was a nifty drummer as I recall." "Recall?, you set him up with a deal then left him in the lurch!" Al said in a marked tone; Mudfinger took a big cigar puff "Hmmm dear boy, please don't get emotional, drummers are a dime a dozen, endorsements are simply glorified discount sales used to keep volume flowing and turnover up." the cigar smoke choked ... Al glared at Mudfinger, he was as mad as a bass player out on bail, "Karma, I need to get out of here, something in this room stinks and it ain't the cigar."

As Al's VK Commodore gasped into life, the two pissed off occupants decided to pay a visit to Rock God of Thunder Inc. The other main distributor of what was fast seeming to be false hopes and promises in this nasty little town; as we entered the empty shop there was a sound from behind, suddenly I saw a blast of orange and yellow stars then blackness, I heard a thud, it sounded like an out of tune bass drum but realised fairly quickly it was actually me; as I went to sleep, I could remember that the carpet was as sticky as an ex-girlfriend, but she didn't taste like cigarette ash and stale beer.

It was dark when I opened my eyes, I don't know how long I was out, maybe as long as a tenor player's solo, that was long; Somebody who liked me a lot had put a cold towel on the back of my head, somebody who liked me less had smashed a guitar over my head, it could have been the same person, musicians have moods.

As my eyes tried to focus, I could make out Dragovic Sonofabic sitting back on a drum stool, there were two muscle men who I knew as lead guitarists on either side of him, Dragovic must have been the interpreter; He sipped at a martini with three olives, his drinks were as sour as he was; "You were getting too close Karma, now we have to rub you out" he said with cold black eyes and a look as hard as handcuffs.

"What's the deal Sonofabic, You knew Sol's past and had to rub him out to keep the status quo?" "Status Quo?" Sonofabic replied "I hate that band!, but yeah but .... he was ready to blow the whistle on me and Mudfinger's arrangement." I realised that Sonofabic thought I knew the whole scam, I played along trying to find out the whole deal. "Listen you Sonofabic, you didn't have to get Mudfinger to rub out Bennet, you two have been playing your little game for years without any Sol, why get Sol now? ... he was trying to make a new life for himself, he wasn't blowing any whistles."

"Bennet had an angle, he was good, real good, but he was showing up my boys and we had to keep the lid on, he wouldn't take the graft, that's why I made sure I got the gig with your band, to keep an eye on him; you know what happens to loose cannons Karma, you're about to find out!"

As Sonofabic trailed off I heard footsteps behind me, I knew whose footsteps they were, the left foot dragged ..... Murgatroid Mudfinger ..... failed drummer, now corporate retailer entered the room with his double breasted suit and his double breasted wife Morgana; There was a chill in the room, a chill so big Sonofabic had his hand in his own pockets. Morgana had that ball and chain look, she was gorgeous but she reminded me of a music course I once took, You had to work real hard to get in, then nine months later you wish you had never come; it was lucky that I never let a degree get in the way of my education.

I made my play, I had nothing to lose, this situation was nearly as bad as my last door-take gig, your supposed to go to hell "after" you die, but a gig in Altona seemed like advance notice, this gig at least was in a different time signature ....

"So the both of you are rubbing out the very people that used to help you out just to keep sales up, and your cronies are the same schmucks that think they're the ones that'll get a piece of the action and a leg up the corporate rock ladder"

"Yeah, sure Karma, go ahead, famous last words" Mudfinger continued .... "Sonofabic and I realised a long time ago that war between the families wasn't profitable, so we joined forces and everybody gets along just fine, everybody plays the same music and the same game and we play the divide and conquer game, everybody who goes along with it wins, especially us!"

Mudfinger couldn't conceal his laughter, with a big puff of his cigar he continued .... "All we had to do was put a lid on Bennet's cracked cymbals and we were in, we made a deal with Sonofabic and we're living happily ever after, especially after Karma! heh heh heh" ..... Mudfinger raised his hand with metal in it.

He was laughing and I was seething, Two big fish in one small pond, gobbling the life out of everything, music was now just fairy floss for the big picture .... SALES, nothing but the sell, nothing but the endorsement, nothing but the graft and who gave a rat's arse about the music, classical music is just a drug deterrent the same way aerogard is a mosquito repellent and you're only as good as the brand name you're wearing and playing .... is this the brave new world or just one big fuck up?

While I was wondering whether I was saying that or thinking it, there was a tremendous bang, I looked up and Sonofabic looked down, Mudfinger had a hole in his head where his ear used to be and the rest of the room raised their hands as if they were doing Leonard Bernstein impersonations.

Al Korg was cuddling a gun the same way he used to cuddle his Poly-61 ..."The rest of you get those hands up!" he yelled, the jazz police filed in behind him and Detective Coltrane barked orders to put the prison jewelry on them and cart them off to the slammer.

The ride up to my feet was a little dizzy but I could handle it; "Al, fill me in", I asked, Al Korg replied, "Well, Karma, as you got out of the car, I saw a shadow, I hung back, they didn't see me as they took you, I hightailed it to Coltrane's Jazz Police precinct; "I figured if you could hold out, I could get back here with backup; when we made it back, Mudfinger was busy singing like a bird, it was all the Jazz Police needed to make a new booking, a paid gig for all and not just the door-take."

"The only gig these guys have now is a booking with the slammer, their biggest fan will be that biker guy Doris in cell block B" "Rudimentary, my dear Karma" Al replied "Their first tune will be called "Don't drop the Soap!"

My head felt a bit better the next day as I went to pick up my Be-Bop Volkswagon, Fritz the mechanic threw the keys to me and off I went to pick up my girl, she was waiting for me, the most beautiful girl on the planet, blue-grey eyes and a heart of gold, the world was a better place with her in it, "Hey Bootifull, you've put a sun-roof in!" she said with the sexiest smile on the earth"I wanted to give you a bit more leg-room" I replied .... I slammed a Rammstein tape in the deck and with my girl cuddling into me, I revved the dinky Volkswagon motor and we drove off to a better part of the suburb.

The end .