Stir Crazy

Along the Way. . .

Experiences, Insights & Humor on the “Long Road Home”

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

Well hello there and welcome to “Where the hell did that come from!” I’m your host, Walks On The Grass and for the next however long it takes I will be introducing you to a very special and very clever dog, invisible tho he may be. (please forgive the bad language; it goes with the territory.)

I first met Booger in United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, PA in 1990. I had stirred the pot with the prison administration in the wrong way, as I was often to do, and this particular stir landed me in just that, “Stir.”

See there are actually levels of “pissed at you” that the cops can entertain, and this one was a doozy. I found myself in the “tombs,” a section of the hole down in the basement at the far end of a terribly dark and dank corridor, like the hole that time forgot, and that was mostly what it was.  

Now I had been in there for more than a month, no human contact, food slid under the door like a dog, no phone, no mail. There were no books, no pens or paper or anything, and I was the only one in this hell hole. A nurse came every 3rd day to take my vitals thru a bean slot in the door. Other than that, there was no one anywhere around and with a steel door and the long hall I heard nothing from the outside 24/7.

The situation was really bad, in fact, it took “Booger” to keep me sane, or at least in the semblance of sanity I am currently still enjoying. I’m not the most stable of all, but I’m not drooling on myself and or babbling incoherently either. Well, mostly not. Smile.

So here I was, sitting in my cell. The floor is a slab of concrete, there’s a super thin rubberized mat in the middle of the floor and a lightbulb in the ceiling about 12 feet above me and that’s it. Oh, yeah, they gave me a paper blanket too, the type they use for suicidal inmates when they are watching them. I guess it was more to say they gave me something to keep warm than anything else, because it was like November and that would explain Booger’s winter coat.

Anyway, Booger is about 11 inches tall at the shoulder, but when he is “playin’ it cool” and walking upright he’s almost 2 feet tall in his bare paws. He’s as black as a devil’s heart and twice as smart as Albert Einstein; he has figured out how to become invisible, also how to talk and do all sorts of amazing things. Booger is definitely a crafty little mutt, and as bad and mischievous as the work week is long, (and that’s pretty darn long).

So let me tell you, as I was sitting there wrapped in paper like the crappiest of Christmas gifts. I happened to look up and “poof” there he was, standing up on his hind feet, leaning against the cell wall by the door, looking at me looking at him.

“Dude,” he said, “What the hell did you do to get stuck like this?!?”

Now imagine my surprise as I was sitting there doing the stir, just thinking and tripping on all the “how longs and what ifs” that were so firmly and obviously a part of my circumstances to come. I just shook my head thinking, “Damn, now I’m seeing things.”

“Walks,” he says, “You’re in a f-ed up position here! I mean, you know you can’t beat these people and I don’t know what it is about you that makes you think even for a second you can. But Dude, I’m a friggin’ invisible damn dog.”

Then he like turns into this vapory clear mist that settles in the spot he was in and then rematerialized and said, “My name’s Booger, and I’m your dog, but I ain’t nobody’s pet and I’m gonna keep you safe and help ya out on the old noggin side.” (Meaning help me keep what little at the time was left of my sanity.)

Now I’m thinkin, what the f***? An invisible dog?

So he goes on to say, “Check this out,” and he pulls out a chess board, and pieces from his seemingly endless invisible pocket, and starts setting the board up.

“Care for a game or two? This ought to help, ain’t no one ever not been restored without a good ole ass kickin, and I am definitely the dog to plant my little chess boot in your behind.”

Then he swipes the board off the bed, all the pieces go flying all over the cell and he screams, “Checkmate fool! I win,” and vanishes into thin air.

I’m floored thinking, oh no, I’m done for, I’ve finally snapped, my lord I’m seeing dogs that talk and act like humans and oh no… Well I tried to resist as long as I could, then out of the same thin air he had vanished into he re-appears.

“Don’t worry Walks, I’ll be back to hang out when I feel like it, but don’t forget, I’m your dog bro.”

So there it is, the story of how I met Booger.

But you ain’t seen nothing yet; I’ve been cool with Booger for 30 plus years and he has sure as heck gotten us into some spots and pulled more than his share of antics. I can’t count the times he has given me a fit or gotten me into trouble. Smile…

One time I refused to attend a disciplinary hearing because the cop told me no pets allowed when I told him I needed to bring my dog or he would tear my pillow up if I left him alone. So needless to say they came in and shook my cell down looking for a pet, then breathalyzed me and then urine tested me thinking I was either drunk or on drugs.

Booger has also gone thru transit with me, peed on the legs of U.S. Marshals on the tarmac while I was waiting to board CONAIR, and even more wonderful moments of mischief. Smile…

I sent Booger to obedience school and now they want to send him back, seems he started a dog-food insurrection, demanding pop tarts and cheese puffs and chicken bites and crackers. Got all his other furry felonious friends involved as well.

Yes, Booger has all sorts of adventures, in fact he is almost a super hero, note strong emphasis on “almost” but he has a bad boy streak, a spoiled little brat. smile!  Now he is almost famous! Again, emphasis on “almost.” Smile…

So take your time, go get a cup of coffee, we will be back later, Booger and me…

© Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher, 2021

Booger appears in Long Road Home (Ch. 17, 20, 21)

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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