It is a sign of the times. Cashwasher's Money Laundry and Dry Cleaning is closing. Yes, after seventy years at its just-off-the-beaten-track location, the son of its founder and current owner/proprietor Murray Cashwasher is calling it quits.
"I know my dear, departed dad is probably spinning in his grave," Cashwasher said, "but I just can't keep up. Between telephone banking and electronic funds transfers on the Internet, not to mention major criminal enterprises buying banks in places like Russia, there's just no room for the little guy anymore."
Murray Cashwasher: contemplating his retirement.
Asked if he couldn't maintain his operation with proper technological upgrades, Cashwasher replied, "I can't even remember my pin number to use my ATM card."
Cashwater's closing has sent shockwaves through this working class neighborhood.
"I knowed I was never gonna be a Dillinger or Capone an' so'd Murray," said Louis "Lefty" Lobotomo, "so I ain't never had no call t' set up no account with that guy, what's'isname? The Kay Man? I never knowed the guy but I unnerstand 'is bank's somewheres else. Not even in the good ol' USA. Not like Ol' Murray, right here in the neighborhood. I come in with a few hunnert here, maybe a grand there, he'd handle it. Turn it out clean as a whistle. Didn't hafta be no $9,999. Better still, he's the best I ever seen, yuh get blood on yer best shirt or somethin'. Turn it over t' Murray, he'd have it back next day, not a hint a blood."
Lefty Lobotomo strikes a familiar pose.
"Actually," Cashwasher corrected, "that was thanks to Mabel. She's been beside me the whole time, just like my mom worked right alongside my dad from the time he started the business."
Mrs. Cashwasher refused comment on the closing except to say, "I suppose Murray will be underfoot more now."
Mrs. Cashwasher: Not much to say
Cashwasher's originated with Casper "No Cap" Cashwasher in 1931, originally as a pawn shop, before young Murray entered the business.
"It took some doing," Murray Cashwasher allowed, "but I finally managed to talk Dad into laundering money. Nothing big. We were never more than a mom and pop operation. Never tried to be. I guess maybe it's lucky for us Mabel and I never had kids to pass the business on to. But Bart's been here now for years and he's the one I'm real sorry for."
Bartholomew 'BugEye' Bimsley in happier times
Said long-time employee, Bartholomew "Bug Eye" Bimsley, "yeah, old Murray's been like a dad to me. Made me Employee of the Year which I thought was nice, although I'm the only employee. But business was good. Used to get real busy sometimes. Now, I don't know what I'm gonna do for sure, but it ain't gonna be money laund'ring. Why, those big fellahs nowadays, they got no use for a guy ain't got one a them Ivory League degrees from a country like Colombia or whatever."
With the passing of Cashwasher's, money laundering will henceforth fall to the likes of Sherwood, "Speedy" Schmerdlap. Schmerdlap quite possibly personifies the new breed of money launderers with his three-piece suit, cell phone, briefcase, and laptop computer. Reached at his offices in a high rise purportedly owned by one of his corporations, Schmerdlap said,
"it's a fast-paced, dog eat dog business these days. Money laundering is just like anything else. If you can't run with the big dogs, you'd best stay under the porch. And we won't even mess with dry cleaning. You can forget that. You've got to have one of these babies here,(he patted his laptop computer) if you want to move around all the government regulations coming down. If you ask me, it was government forced Murray out, not us big dealers."
Schmerdlap: The new breed of launderer?
"I suppose Speedy has a point," Cashwasher allowed when told of Schmerdlap's comments. "You'd no sooner figure out a way around a regulation and here'd come the government with three or four more. I'll bet a handful of my old business acquaintances went under after the feds came up with the RICO statutes. Didn't used to be a man'd have to move his money off-shore to launder it. He could come right here. Never leave the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, we always tried to keep the money right here in the old neighborhood. Now, who knows where it winds up?"
Lefty Lobotomo and Bug Eye Bimsley though summed up neighborhood sentiments when they said, "it's just not gonna be the same without the laundering machine running at Cashwasher's."
So it seems that in money laundering, just as in other business enterprises, the themes are foreign competition, modern technology, and bigger is better.