You're on your own, Karma!!
by Chris Quinlan 8.02.01

z Melbourne's toughest musical private eye, Karl Karma, travels north to ye olde Sydney Towne .... Karl Karma, Gymea and a Newtown pub, an interesting mix, but who was taking the first toke?

(the budgie in this story is a real budgie!)

I was sitting on my favorite stool at the Newtown pub where the chicks are tougher than the men, cuddling a portagaff and listening to the local muffin-walloper at the next table talking like a Woolloomooloo frenchman. Listening to the strangled accent, I figured she was the local straw-chipper taking the gilt off somebody's gingerbread.

As she looked up between sucks of her gasper, she smiled in my direction, she had teeth like the ten commandments, all broken. She crackled in my direction "Hey, handsome, you're tall." "I don't try to be." I non-chalantly replied. "Wanna come back to my place and help me perm my poodle? Maybe Narelle here would like to bring up the rear as well, heh heh heh."

Narelle gave me a quick eyeball with her beautiful eye, so beautiful, the other one couldn't stop looking at. I was trying to find a way of politely refusing to be Lucky Pierre for the night when suddenly a figure I knew the cut of whisked through the bar into the back-room. "Hello Narelle, I must be going" I said as I jumped off the arse- warmer and followed.

As I walked through to the back of the bar I heard Poodle Permer hack out, "You Melbun pricks are all the same, get a good offer from two working girls who are willing to take their teeth out and you give us the blue-duck!" As I shot through the bar like a Bondi Tram, I saw the figure close a door behind him, Two heavies playing pool looked up and shot a nasty look in my general direction, nice girls they were, chilling out after their gig at rock n' roll wrestling, yep, they were big.

While the blonde started to say hello by swinging her pool cue towards my scone, her partner "Big-Red" dived forward to give me a short-arm inspection with the tip of her moccasin. Fortunately for me, I managed to shoot a quick arm out to take the cue and sidestep the looming mocco, as the cue smacked into my upper arm I swinged my boot at Big Red's chest, I missed her chest by about a size 10 and my boot landed where no man had gone before. "You bastard, you kicked my girl in the box!" the blonde screamed as Big Red keeled over being sick in fourteen languages "Sorry, Luv, I missed, I was aiming for her balls!" and with that I put Blondie to sleep with a love tap on the chin.

I raced through the back door, and started to follow the figure that was turning the corner on the next block. I put my feet into duty and managed to hustle into shadow mode without being made. The tip paid off, Al Korg told me he would hit The Bank Hotel sooner or later, I just had to be patient. Now my case was on its way.

As I made my way up King st. I was wondering just how many pubs were on this strip, A guy stumbled out of the Cooper's Arms Hotel, he was so drunk he would have had to open his shirt collar to piss. he bumped into my mark, he dropped the package he was carrying and it rolled into the gutter, "Get out my way, pissant!" he yelled "My name's not pissant, it's Henery, glad to meet ya, got a few coins for a ssscchhooona mate?"

The drunk had breath you could taste, the sort you find with old SM-58's; as my mark railed back against the metho and orange juice fumes, I made my move, I ran to the gutter and picked up the package as smooth as Mal Meninga on a good day, I had the package and hustled my way through the crowd like a roadie on heat.

This was the hard part, getting the package and me to a safe place, I whisked into a shadowy corner a few blocks further on, he was following but couldn't spot me, there was a cab on the corner, it was risky, I jumped in quicker than a mall rat at a Living End mosh pit, "Where too?" Johnny the cabbie rasped "Sylvania Waters via Redfern and take the corners quick!" I said quickly, "Hmmm Ok, Boss, You shooting marbles from all sides of the ring?" "No worries, Boss, I take you on the tour in top gear" Johnny got the picture and I was glad.

His cab took the corner at 100 k.p.h. ... a cop stopped us and told us to put it back, my "pianist in a brothel" routine got us off the hook, Johnnie drove through Redfern on the sidewalk because there was a sign there saying "Keep death off roads". Soon we were out in the suburbs, I knew this because we weren't hitting so many pedestrians. Sylvania Waters reared its ugly head, I remember this place like a bad dream, and the bad dream made it to TV! so I had to keep going, I told Johnny to make a couple of quick turns around a few streets I knew in Sutherland and as we made it into Gymea, I made a quick call on my be-bop mobile and found a drop.

"Thanks Johnny, I owe ya" I said as I threw a roll of notes into his lap. "No worries boss, me have fun like old days in Albania" I sauntered down Gymea Bay Rd as fast as my gams would let me, I knocked like a Gamelan orchestra at Phil and Jacque's funky pad, my Sydneyside connection.

"Karma! aren't you a sight for sore eyes, come in and park those dogs!" Phil said with a laugh, Jacque popped in and with a hug and kiss, poured me a schnapps that would knock the head off a polish priest.

I sat back and looked at the reason for all my commotion, "The Package"; it didn't look like much but it was as valuable as Nicole Kidman's pre-nuptial agreement.

I opened the package and there they were, the stolen master tapes of Melbourne's own megastar, "Fat Elvis, Live in St. Albans!" I remember being at the show when he was singing "Be-Bopapallooza" whilst get zapped by the dud connection on the microphone, a classic!

As I dropped the tapes on Phil's purple couch, I heard a creak from the downstair's door, thinking quick, I grabbed The St. Alban's tapes and stuffed them under the purple couch, then sat back and acted non-chalant with my schnapps.

"Karl Karma, as I live and breath" .... I knew the voice and I knew the figure, the same figure I was tailing in Newtown, Rance Muhumitz, Deputy Inspector of "I can't believe it's not an Arts Grant Inc." He was pointing metal at me, yet again.

"So it's even taxi drivers you have in your pocket now, Rance?" I asked as I was raising my hands in the upward global gesture of fuck you. "You bet, Karma, Johnny used to play bass for me in the bad ol' days, now he's my mook and led a merry dance that he told me the steps too." Rance laughed his laugh in general bad guy style, the prick.

"So you managed to mark my card, good work dickhead, fat lot of good now" I paused, I made my play and I knew it had to be good. "You need the Fat Elvis tapes to cover the grift with your bullshit arts grants, you need to give them to Mr. Perkmeister to cover Plugola at the last greet and meet, well, they're not here, they're ditched, Johnny didn't see me ditch 'em!"

"Give me Fat Elvis' St.Alban's Tapes, Karma!" Muhumitz's face was as red as Rammstein's roadie, he continued "Or I'll plug you so full of holes, you'll look like Courtney Love hanging out at Dandenong Station!"

Suddenly, there was a loud squawk behind Muhumitz's head, Phil and Jacque's manic budgie flew into Muhumitz's face and started pecking at his peepers, I made my move, as Muhumitz slapped at manic budgie, I threw the schnapps into Muhumitz's face, the scream sounded as painful as a Celine Dion cassette in my ex- wife's car. My mind wandered back to The Bank Hotel and the little tactic I used on Big Red, yep, I kicked Rance Muhumitz in the balls, as he doubled over clutching at his now well-sorted luggage, Phil and Jacque ran into the room with Detective Coltrane of the Victorian Jazz Police.

"Karma, it's you again" Coltrane said in a wry tone "Yes, Detective, you can't keep a good drummer playing fusion forever!" I smiled back. "How did you know about the Sydney connection to the Fat Elvis tapes?" Coltrane asked, As Jacque poured me another schnapps shottie I sat back and explained, "Well, I figured that once the tapes were lifted, the only place they could be fenced was up here, Melbourne was too hot, Commodores were crawling all over St.Albans looking for Fat ElvisTapes, I figured the only guy who had connections to fence Fat Elvis was Rance Muhumitz, the money then being laundered to be used to cut deeper into the Australian musical pie."

I continued on, "Because Muhumitz has the finger on the arts grants, Melbourne jazz musicians can't work unless they wear funny clothes and play in street parades, they need the Fat Elvis tapes back in St. Albans to survive. My keyboard guy Al Korg, got a tip that there was an "Elvis night for dykes" up here in Sydney and that was our best lead, and it paid off, Muhumitz showed."

"Karma, your phone may not ring but you've got a finger on the pulse." Detective Coltrane pulled out the big-house bracelets and slapped them on Rance Muhumitz, I got him this time but for how long? He had more connections than Telstra, and fingers in so many pies, he could have opened a pastry factory.

I shook Phil's hand, and kissed Jacque and her manic budgie on the cheek; as I made my way to Gymea station, I said to myself, "You're on your own now, Karma," I was wondering whether my girl was at the other end of the line, I couldn't get back to her fast enough, in the middle of the biggest troubles, she still had that golden smile just for me, even if she wasn't there this time, I would just make my way home and I would sit and wait until I wasn't on my own anymore. She was worth it. .