Monday, August 24, 2009

Bernie Madoff's Prison Blues

News services reported today that Bernie Madoff is claiming he has cancer, although federal officials deny that there has been any cancer diagnosis. News services also report that Bernie’s participating in Native American purification ceremonies, taking about 20 pills a day, and getting other prisoners to cook sandwich wraps for him. Supposedly, various gangs in the prison—the federal medium security facility in Butner, NC—are trying to recruit Bernie. He reportedly was assigned to the engraving section at the prison when he first arrived, but is now painting fences. The following is a work of fiction.

“Here’s your chicken fajita, Bernie.”

“Oh, hi, Doug. Did you use less vinegar like I told you?”

“Yeah. Less vinegar and a dash of paprika, like you said.”


“You how hard it is to get paprika in this place, Bernie?”

“Come on, Doug. All you had to do was talk to that reporter, and tell him that I was taking 20 pills a day and not feeling so good.”

“I think he thought it was funny, giving me some spice for information.”

“It was probably the cheapest tip the guy ever got.”

“Okay, well, Bernie, you got my ten bucks?”

“Oh, yeah. Ten bucks. Here it is.”

“This a good bill?”

“It’s as good as anything out there.”

“Bernie, I know you were assigned to the engraving section first. Then, they moved you to fence painting real fast. What were you doing in engraving?”

“Nothing that the Federal Reserve isn’t doing.”

“What the hell does that mean, Bernie?”

“It means take the ten and have a good time spending it. Now, look it, here comes Ray Ray. I gotta talk to him. “

“Okay, Bernie. Let me know when you want another sandwich.”

"All right, Doug. See you around."

“Bernie, my man.”

“Hello, Ray Ray.”

“I got the thing you wanted.”

“You mean the bagel with cream cheese and lox?”

“That’s right, Bernie. Here it is.”

“Ray Ray, you’re a genius.”

“It was easy. It was like you said. That reporter, he gave it to me ‘cuz I told him we was trying to recruit you.”

“Good. Even in this place, life is sometimes a bowl of cherries.”

“Say what?”

“I was just making an observation.”

“So, Bernie, you gonna join up with us?”

“I don’t know, Ray Ray. Why do you want an old guy like me in your gang?”

“Bernie, my man. You the biggest hustler of all time. I seen a lot of hustle and jive. But I ain’t never seen no one take $65 billion. All the blow that goes through LA, it ain’t worth nothing like $65 billion. You the man. You the main man. We can learn from you. You gotta tell us how you did it. You gotta teach us.”

“It’s nice of you to say that, Ray Ray. I’ll think about it.”

“There’s a lot more bagel, lox and cream cheese if you join up with us.”

“I'll keep that in mind. Look, the Chief is coming. If you’ll excuse me, I need to speak with him.”

“Okay, Bernie. Keep on talking to me.”

“Okay, Ray Ray.”

“Hello, Bernie.”

“Hello, Chief Running Bear. Everything ready?”

“The lodge is ready and the stones are hot.”

“Good. I’ll just take my shirt off and we can get started.”

“This is your third purification ceremony this month, Bernie. I think we’re getting you in pretty good shape.”

“I do enjoy the ceremonies, Chief. I feel better afterwards.”

“That’s good, Bernie. Maybe, before we get started this time, you could tell what you’ve been seeing.”

“You sure you want to know, Chief?”

“Bernie, I’m full-blooded Native American. I can’t stay cooped up here. It’s bad enough being on the reservation. This place will kill me.”

“Okay, Chief. I’ll tell you what I saw while I was painting. The fence in the northeast corner of the perimeter looks kind of loose at the bottom. Maybe, if you scraped away enough of the dirt, you might be able to slip underneath. And you know the manhole cover near the fence along the south side of the perimeter, for the storm water drainage?”

“I know what you mean.”

“When I was painting there, I overheard a couple of maintenance guys talking while they were inspecting the drainage pipe. They said the bars in the pipe are getting rusty, and that it might not be that hard to push through them. You’re a big, strong guy, Chief. Maybe you could lift up the manhole cover, get into the drainage pipe--it's big--and push through the bars.”

“Thanks, Bernie. That’s good to know. Let’s get the ceremony going. We’ll have you in great shape soon.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“By the way, Bernie. Do you mind if I ask a personal question?”

“No, not at all. Fire away, Chief.”

“You look pretty healthy to me. Do you really have cancer?”

“Chief, what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

“Bernie, no disrespect intended, but a lot of your investors would argue with that.”

“Chief, like you, I don’t want to stay here forever. The cancer story worked out well for that Libyan guy in Scotland. I might as well give it a try.”

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