Our cover story this week, "Charles Ramsey Has a Goal," looks at Ramsey on the brink of his book's publication and what he hopes to achieve with it.
Gray & Co. Publishers was good enough to provide an excerpt from the book itself: Dead Giveaway © 2014 by Charles Ramsey with Randy Nyerges. Reprinted with permission of Gray & Co., Publishers. Available at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. Autographed copies available at CharlesRamseyWorld.com.
In his new book, Dead Giveaway (softcover; $14.95; 165 pages) Charles Ramsey gives an account of his life before, during, and after the dramatic rescue of three kidnapped women in Cleveland on May 6, 2013. After seeing Child’s Play, the horror movie about an evil doll named Chucky, Charles Ramsey’s mother commented that she’d given him the perfect nickname. “I can’t begin to estimate the number of times Mom got a call from school about my behavior,” he writes. “She’d just shake her head and hang up the phone and then beat the shit out of me.” His relationship with his father was worse. “Life between Dad and me was a constant chess match. Dad tried to anticipate my moves, finding ways to cut me off at the pass. I always found ways to work around his defenses.” For example:
The GED class was held at Cleveland Heights High School, from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, for a month. Each week we were to take on a different subject. Most of the students were in their 30s through their 50s. At 15, I was the youngest one there. And the cleverest. Mom would drop me off at the school just before 5 p.m.
“I’m so proud of you, Chucky,” she would say.
Yeah, right, thanks for the lift, you dumb bitch, I thought to myself. Instead of going to the class, I took a 5:45 bus to Severance Center and headed to the bowling alley and pool hall. There, I would trim one sucka for $200 playing 9 ball, another sucka for $100 playing 8 ball. I would then catch the 8:45 bus back to the school and poke my head in the class for a few minutes, always having some creative excuse for my nearly four-hour tardiness. Mom would pick me up at 10, none the wiser. Since this wasn’t real school, I wasn’t really truant, and no one called my parents to rat me out.
I continued this pattern almost every day, until one day while at the pool hall I fired home the winning 8 ball shot in a side pocket, turned around to accept the congrats from the boys, and saw Dad standing there, arms folded, face scowling.
Someone had tipped him off.
“Is this some kind of field trip, you dumb nigga?”
Punishment was, as usual, swift and severe. I learned my lesson for a few days. I kept Dad convinced that I was sitting through class, while all along I kept heading back to the pool hall whenever I could. Finally, the day of the final exam arrived. I took the test, not sure of how well I did. A week or so later, a large brown envelope arrived in the mail. I opened it carefully. There in my hands was my GED certificate. I had passed that damn test with an 88 fuckin’ percent! I was no dumb nigga. I was smooth and smart—smarter than everyone else. I could spend three quarters of my time hustlin’ at the pool hall and still pass that fuckin’ test. The real idiots, it was clear to me, were those dumbshits who were wasting their time at that dumbass high school.
My parents were in a state of disbelief. Real disbelief. Mom burned up the phone line to Columbus, calling around to find out just how I pulled off this latest shenanigan.
“There’s no way in hell this little fucker could have passed that test,” Mom kept yelling into the phone at whatever unfortunate soul would take the call. “He couldn’t even handle the seventh grade. This is obviously a sick joke, or whoever graded that test doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing.” But every time she called, she kept getting the same answer: My score was legit. Eventually Mom took that certificate and had it laminated.
At Central State University, Ramsey got caught trying to steal computers:
By 7 a.m., Dad was there at the security office, once again hauling my ass back to the car. “Now what? Just what in hell am I going to do with you now? I knew you were going to get your Ph.D. degree. I knew it. You finally got that Ph.D., muthafucka.”
“Ph.D.? Whaddaya talkin’ ’bout?” I asked.
“Post-hole digger. That’s all you’ve got the brains for, you dumbshit. You’ll never be more than a goddamn post-hole
digger. You’ll always be Chucky, the post-hole digger nigger.”
While made a living as a crack dealer in Glenville, Ramsey tried to burglarize his parents’ house in Richmond Heights. After a comically misguided attempt to escape custody …
I was sent down to the county jail at the Justice Center downtown. There, I got to mingle with first-rate assholes, rapists, and murders. Burglarizing my parents’ home didn’t exactly measure up to who’s-the-baddest-muthafucka-in-the-house standards.
Things got a bit worse not long after I arrived. Remember, I had left my car—my $50, no-questions-asked car—in the Arby’s parking lot before I tried to break into the house. Eventually the car was towed. And I had left my driver’s license in the fucking car. So in addition to being charged with burglary, I was now charged with receiving stolen property. Another case of fucking up while fucking up.
I was let out of jail pending my sentencing hearing. While waiting for that hearing, I got busted again, this time for selling drugs. When I finally got my day in court, Dad was there.
“Mr. Ramsey,” the judge said, “your father is here to speak on your behalf.”
What a lucky break. If anyone had the connections to get me out of this mess, it was the old man. I smiled as he stood up to give his speech.
“Your honor,” Dad said, “I want you to give this nigger the maximum. I’m sick and tired of his shit, and I don’t want to see him around Richmond Heights again. I’ve tried everything I could to set him straight, but he’s just too much of a dumbshit. He needs prison time, lots of it.”
“Well, um, Mr. Ramsey, the most I can give your son is 18 months.”
“Not fuckin’ enough,” the old man ranted on. “I’ll pay to have him kept longer. He needs at least five years.”