It's the year 2159. It's New York. Mike Bloomberg is in his 39th term as mayor. A pack of cigarettes costs $119.45 on 42nd St., but only $116.10 on Queens Boulevard. Bernie Madoff has served his sentence and is about to get out of jail. He's been behind bars for 150 years, or 54, 750 hours, of which he has worked 18,250 in the prison laundry at 75 cents an hour. He leaves the clink with $13,687.50 in untaxed wages, ready to start a new life as a free man.
Bernie just marked his 221st birthday. Mike is a mere 217 and speculation is running high that he's going to seek a 40th term, "just so it comes out even." Mike's been working out and so has Bernie. But Bernie didn't have a personal trainer like Mike. He had to rely on help from his homies in the lockup.
No Club Fed for Bernie. Not exactly hard time, either. But no Club Fed. So for a guy that old, he's in pretty good shape. So, don't you go messin' with "The B-Man." He's learned to take care of himself. The New York Times wanted to interview him on his release, but it went out of business back in 2012. Generations of kids have asked their grownups "Why do they call that place 'Times Square?'" Only history buffs remember.
There was a "Welcome Home Bernie" celebration scheduled for this day, but no one lived long enough to show up. Just as well. There probably would have been a bunch of protesters on hand with their hands out.
His lawyer, Ira Sorkin, has put his court bills into collection. But with only about 14 grand in his pocket, they're going to have a hard time getting much. Plus the collection agency doesn't have much chance of calling Ira's client, who plans to live in the Barry Manilow Home for Men somewhere downtown. No phones.
The street scene seems strange to Bernie. The buildings look familiar, some of them. But no cars. Mike banned motorized private transit at street level back in his 28th. Now, there are hydrogen powered buses for what remains of the population, down to about 8,000 from the 2,000,000 when he first set foot in the Big House. But the air is as pure as a snowfall at David Souter's house.
Some things haven't changed. You still need to speak decent Korean to find out whether the stuff on the salad bar has been sitting there for more than three days (Mike eliminated the Board of Health in his 31st term. Budget cuts, don'tcha know.)
Macy's is still having a 20% off sale. When Bernie passes one of Macy's windows, he notes there's a computer screen on display with an Internet news website showing. The top story is about some guy running a Ponzi scheme. He shakes his head in disbelief. "Who would do such a thing?" he asks.
Bernie has been rehabilitated.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®