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 E.P.Dixon

I am an elder and a seeker. Many years ago I was given the honorary name, Sings Many Songs by a lifelong friend and leader of Creek, Shawnee, Cherokee, Métis descent. The name was a gift to honor my interest and prayers for his people and my work to help him restore and keep alive the rightful place of the Creek Peoples in the history and cultural fabric of the Southeastern homeland. I’m an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, just trying to make sense of the world. Being an outsider can be lonely sometimes, but oh, what treasures can be found in most unexpected places. The name “Sings” began to take on a its purest meaning as I reached out for understanding and came to know some remarkable Native warriors hidden in a world of their own. As a writer and editor of sorts, my goal with Journeys of the Spirit is to give voice to two who have so enriched my life and my journey. My hope is more and more people will come to know, love, and understand these two kind and generous Native elders through their own stories, art, wisdom, knowledge, humor and insights into worlds few of us can even imagine as we follow their personal “Journeys of the Spirit.” I may also have a few worthwhile things to say from time to time, and I might even invite some other writers to share stories about their spiritual journeys.

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