(Note: The fictional essay, or as I dubbed it the "fessay," is my literary invention. It is a grandchild of the O. Henry stories highlighting grim labor conditions and a cousin of Art Buchwald’s comedy sketches where two characters discuss the news.)
[NEWS ITEM: Senator Hillary Clinton says she would like to "take" the 39 billion dollar profit made by Exxon and develop alternative fuels.]
Finch and I were splitting a hot million from the big bank heist at First Federal. The disposition of funds, I thought, should be fun for the disposition.
"Swiss accounts," he was saying. "That’s what we need. Those things work like well-oiled watches."
"No Swiss accounts,” I said. "Those things have more holes than that smoked cheese."
"How about the Cayman Islands? That should keep the sharks away."
"Sure, but you still have to fight off the crocodiles."
"I guess you’re right. But if we keep our money in the States, it will take a lot of laundering."
"Open a laundry, now there’s an idea. Cash business. You can appreciate your customers and depreciate the heavy machinery on your tax return."
"That could iron things out to where we are never pressed for cash again."
"Nah, won’t work. Only people you can get to work in a laundry these days are illegals. The Feds will throw us in jail for the wrong reason."
"Yeah. They’ll put a ring around our collar. I suppose you and I were not born to be suits, much less clean them."
"How about a pizzeria? Put down 2 grand a week extra in income, pay the taxes, and we each take our piece of the pie."
"Right. And once you’re showing inflated numbers, you sell the place later for much more than it’s worth."
"So which one of us is volunteering to oversee the operation?"
"Not for me, that’s for sure. I overlook but I do not oversee."
"Trying to put the work on me? You’ve got some crust. That’s my yellow brick road? You can plant me in your penthouse, but you can’t anchor me in your anchovies."
"So you eliminate any form of legitimate enterprise?"
"Absolutely. If you can get me to enter one, you deserve a prize. The life of crime crooked its finger at me as a young man and I have been fingered as crooked ever since. I may prefer to spend my time in front of bars rather than behind them, but I’m a lifer. I did it my way, and my way is the highway."
"Well, that leaves only one surefire method for cleaning the money without getting our hands too clean in the process. Philanthropy."
"You’re right. Finally, a plan with a foundation. There’s nothing more profitable than a non-profit."
"Sure. First we create an organization, say the Committee to Bring Coals to Newcastle and Clothes to Milan. Then we write ourselves executive salaries of 100G each. You only have to actually distribute 5% a year, which we anyway would have to unload on our various loser and malcontent relatives."
"Yes, and every time the foundation is short on funds, anonymous cash donations show up on our doorstep. What would we do without those angels who like to spread their wings and a little joy?"
"And when our stash runs low, we can receive transfusions of blood money from some of our… er, colleagues. We could wind up running a big laundry after all."
"You think we’ll start getting invited to some of those big charity banquets? Nothing wrong with that, other than having to meet Paris Hilton."
"I can definitely see you as a man about town, as soon as you learn to give your five o’clock shadow the slip."
"What if a newspaper sends a human interest writer around to interview us and survey our operation?"
"We have nothing to hide. All our operations will be above board, beyond reproach and over the counter."
We sat back feeling good about ourselves. The First Federal job was our biggest score ever. It was designed to hit the bank just as a big payroll arrived. Every move was prearranged, choreographed in great detail. We may have looked like a couple of bozos from Little Rock, but we were really masterminds. It was widely believed the First Federal was impenetrable, that the first guys who tried to tackle it would be thrown for a big loss.
"Well, Finch," I said. "Now that we know how we are going to invest the money afterwards, let’s pick up the gloves and the submachine guns. The time has come to actually do the robbery."
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