Jim’s Books Now Available

Get Jailbreak! and see Jim's other books at Barnes and Noble. Also available at iTunes, Kobo, and Scribd.

Oklahoma Dreaming

If you ain’t got no brain, you can’t get bored! -James Bauhaus

When they throw people into their prisons to rot until they decide to open the gate again, most of the victims simply waste our time playing repetitious games. We slap cards or dominoes and tell each other grand stories about how great we are and how rich and loved we once were. We watch the same thing on TV, and mindlessly shake and jerk to endless repeats of top-40 tunes. For every one of us who crack a book and tries to better ourselves, there are scores who merely crawl up into their fart sacks and lay there daydreaming of past events in our lives.

This phenomenon is particularly evident in states where the politicians have learned that their graft and corruption goals are more easily accomplished by maintaining a dumbed-down electorate. You can detect such states by observing how their legislators starve schools and feed their prisons. Inside the sterile environments of these prisons, I observe many of the state’s products and have written extensively about it in my “Bred for Crime:” series on my netsite, jamesbauhaus.com. Most recently, in “Brother!” (Page 54 of my book “More Bread, Less Circus”), I describe a person who daydreams almost constantly. When he does rouse for necessary functions such as to be fed and to defecate, he tends to watch me, same as any animal’s eyes are attracted to movement. Also, he tends to do what I do; inconsequential acts such as stretching by hanging from the doorjam, apeing a very abbreviated form of my exercise routine. He even decided to mark on the wall because he saw me do it, even though he has no eraser or intention of repairing the damage. He is like a dog that pisses where he detects other dogs have pissed. It is his instinctual drive to obtain validation.

Psychologists have proved that spouses of disparate intellect tend to shed their differences. To put it crassly, the smart ones get stupid and the stupid ones get smarter. This same phenomenon occurs in prisons among persons forced to share toilet-sized cages, except more so. I try not to be dragged down by Oklahoma’s newest crop of weeds, but it was inevitable. My curiosity at what possible benefit may be obtained by lying in a nearly comatose state for hours led me to try it myself, briefly…

It was a sunny day, at a rural home we inhabited as kids. There was a huge, shady tree with a rope swing, a hay barn down a short path across a field, Shetland horses, dairy cows and a pond full of catfish. Across the loop of a driveway was the home of our landlord and her extended family; a sour-looking old half-sister of my father’s. His half-brothers ran the dairy and complained about us kids. All of them seemed to take turns staring at us out of their big picture window. They had one dog; a German Shepard named “Bullet” who was king of a pack of strays that numbered about half a dozen members year round. We never knew where they came from, but supposed that they were dumped by their owners. All of them were males. None of them got fed except Bullet. We would play with them, and pull fat clusters of ticks off of their ears. It seemed that they kept fairly healthy by catching rabbits. None of them were malnourished or starving, but they were always hungry. One even managed to snag a loaf of bread as I carried grocery sacks from the car to the house. I shrugged and said, “That bird dog got it.” My mother made me chase down the dog and get it back. Money must have been pretty tight for us to eat after the dog, I thought, but he had really only despoiled the middle few slices. The main occupation of these dogs was to chase cars, particularly the slower ones pulling into or out of our parking lot. (The place had been a beer joint for a time.) The highway excited them too. After a car or truck sped out of the driveway and eluded them on the highway, the pack of them would chase the much faster traffic here. About once a month, one of them would get himself killed doing this, but never Bullet. The old lady in the picture window would notice and come and get me to bury the corpse in our garden. If I wasn’t handy, she would drag it to a place where she could pile limbs and sticks on it to burn it. Each time one of the pack managed to get himself killed, it would only be a few days before a replacement would show up to fill the gap.

Another of their primary pastimes was to notice no one around and sneak around back to tump over our trash cans, which they dug through for edible garbage and strung all over the yard. It was my job to prevent this from occurring and to clean the stuff up when it did. These dogs were either very clever or I was a bit lax in my duty, but one day I got some very welcome help from my little sister. She had noticed one of the newer members of the pack nosing around the barrel, trying to get in or push it over despite my crudely erected defense to this tactic.

Instead of chasing it away herself, which always resulted in a renewed assault later, she came to get me. I got my B-B gun, and together we sneaked to the bedroom window facing the barrels and eased the screen off. While leveling the gun at the unsuspecting pooch who was about to learn a quick lesson, my sister got squeamish. “Don’t shoot him!” she said. “You’ll kill him!”

“This is just a B-B gun,” I explained. She already knew this, so I added, “He’s ‘way over there: at that far away, it won’t even break his skin.” It was a good hundred feet of distance.

“No,” she insisted, but with some doubt. “You’ll hurt him.”

“This won’t hurt him very badly; just a bruise,” I assured her. She still objected, so I added, “I’ll bounce it off the trashcan first, and he’ll only feel the ricochet. How’s that? He’ll be fine.”

“Well,” she replied doubtfully, “if you’re sure…”

This compromise accepted, I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. The gun made its snapping sound. The B-B hit the trashcan with a loud “Tink!” Then the dog yelped in pain and surprise, flinched sideways and ran away, never to offend the trashcan gods again.

“You shot him!” my sister accused.

“You heard it tink off the trashcan first.”

“You did!”

“It’s not going to bounce off the dog and then tink on the can,” I explained. “You heard the tink before the yelp!”

She would not be convinced. Of course, we were very young, and, as with all other people, our expectations affect our observations. I expected to miss the dog entirely with this tricky shot and was excited to have succeeded in my first try in front of a witness. My sister had expected the dog to be mortally wounded and its yelp had confirmed that it had.

Remembering this small part of the past brought me a nice little chuckle and a righteous amount of mild entertainment. Nice as it was, I would not want to spend a large amount of my life rotting in prison, reliving the past, merely waiting to see if the gate would open again. In Asian countries, where prisons are not big business for the political–elite to harvest fat taxpayer-profits from, this type of wasted time requires its victims to smoke opium. To paraphrase Lenin, we might say that, in America; Prisons are the opiate of the masses.”

This is particularly true of Oklahoma, where the density of politicians and bureaucrats per capita far exceeds the national average, while the services we citizens obtain from this over-bloat of governance are far less. Our Oklahoma politicians are expert at draining taxes out of their citizens and singularly skilled at sucking the most subsidies from the federal trough. Most recently, our politicians cunningly agreed to accept federal school standards (“common core”), but only for long enough to get the money. It is their Oklahoma dream to keep their citizens as ignorant, misled and distracted as possible as they loot, pollute and exploit to the best of their ability, even to the point of ripping off the federal gov’t by repealing Common Core standards.