My God I'm Nervous - Give That Kid Another Pill!

My God I'm Nervous - Give That Kid Another Pill!

A Story by Ricky Charles Dodson

A true story by Ricky Charles Dodson.


“MY God I’m Nervous - Give That Kid Another Pill!”

By: Ricky Charles Dodson

                      CHAPTER ONE:
                The kid in the book store

It was one of those wow, ah ha, moments that we all have, but not often, that we never forget and remember on an emotional level rather, than a rational one. I was in town waiting for my new glasses to get made, I look damn sexy in them by the way, anyway, with a few hours to kill I found myself in a small used book store. A few folks were leaving and the place was empty except for the store keep, I thought.

She was a sweet, yet stern looking woman a little older than myself. I glanced around the store for about three seconds and saw all the books and it hit me, a sense of being overwhelmed. See, I’d been wanting to read my next book for some time, sort of a big deal for me. So I acted on my sudden burst of insight and spoke to the book lady. I told her I had only read four books in my 55 years and wanted to change that, but was overwhelmed by all the books and asked her if she could suggest a good book for me. Just as she began to search for words, another lady and a child about 12 came from behind an aisle. The book lady smiled with relief and referred me to her, a teacher. They had heard what I'd said. The teacher said, "before I pick a book for you, may I ask why you have only read four books?"

I told her about my childhood experience being misdiagnosed as learning impaired and put in "special school” and put on mind-altering drugs for seven years. When they declared me cured and mainstreamed me back into public school no one tried to teach me to read, instead they just pushed me through with barely passing grades, so I didn’t really learn to read until I was in my twenties. I could read a little, but it was extremely hard for me. So hard that the task itself was frustrating, slow, exhausting and my retention was almost non-existent.
My Grand-pa had a saying: "I said all that to say this" It applies now.

The little boy was totally silent, head down looking at the floor, a tiny bit fidgety, but hardly noticeable, he looked totally normal in all respects to me. Teacher said the kid's name, I can’t remember, "Did you hear the man?"  He sort of nodded, but kept his eyes fixed on the floor. He had his head down since I first saw him.

She said, "Do you have anything you want to say to the man?" She put a spiral book in front of him and put a pen in his hand. She placed her hand on the back of the boys forearm and put it on the paper. The boy began to write, extremely shaky, big letters, all she did was apply pressure on his forearm to slow the shaking.

He wrote, "I do not speak, I read, I understand."

Then she pulled out one of the ten or so books she had bought for him, opened it and said, "can you show the man how you read?" His little arm shook as he put his hand on the page. Instantly he began to flow down the page with his finger, jittery with uneven movements, but very quickly and on to the next page and next in seconds. Teacher said, "He never forgets anything he reads." I was blown away. I knew it was real because it felt real. I kneeled and said to the boy, "Thank you so much for showing me."

He looked up for the first time and with his eyes fixed in the top of his sockets, looked right into my eyes and said clear as a bell, "thank you." The teacher and book lady were both visibly, well, surprised and the teacher silently mouthed to me, "He never speaks." I said, "no, thank you," and he said, "you’re welcome." No expression on his little face at all. A feeling moved through me that’s hard, if not impossible to put into words and I know I’m not capturing the full flavor in this re-tell, but it was big, it was real and it was moving.

The teacher said, "You look like the kind of guy who would like this," as she handed me a huge book with about a million pages …“Sahara”. They left and the book lady said this kid was a genius who has a photographic memory and never forgets anything he reads and has read thousands of books and the lady was his personal teacher.


Sitting in the parking lot I closely examined my new task. Big, thick, tiny letters with what had to be a trillion words. I sighed out loud, "Oh yea I can read this, I will read this," but the words running through my mind was more like, "Oh my God, now I have to read this monster."

I remembered when I was younger I would say that "hell" would be being forced to read every word of "War and Peace" because it was the biggest book I knew of and I thought it would take forever to complete. I began to slowly read the first page of my new project and my mind quickly wandered and took me back to when I was seven years old, probably my first memory from school.

Standing in my first grade class looking up at my parents, my teacher Ms. Ladd, standing behind me with her hands affectionately resting on my shoulders. It was the end of the school year, I was so proud, she was going to tell my parents what a good child I was, how hard I worked and that they should be proud of me. I thought she was going to give me an award.  Something like, "Your child was the smartest in the whole class, maybe the whole school."

Then the sky fell on my little head and reality kicked me in the teeth. "I’m afraid I’m going to have to hold Ricky back, it’s for the best." My parent’s faces went from happy and proud to confusion. I had no idea what she meant by her statement, or why my parents faces were becoming more and more concerned as she spoke. I could see the blood draining from my mother's face. She continued to explain that I had a problem and needed special help, medical help. I didn’t understand what she was saying, but I understood it was not good for me. I didn’t know what "hold back" meant. No one was proud; they were worried like when you hear a family member has cancer. I mean, who fails first grade?

Ms. Ladd said, "It’s your son’s brain, it’s not working correctly." My parent’s faces went from concerned to horrified. I was young, but I knew something was really wrong, my mother began to cry and even my father, who was not an empathetic man and never showed emotions looked totally devastated. She told my parents she was sending me to a doctor in Dallas who was an expert in this area and would know exactly how to help me.

I remember the ride home like it was this morning. My father looking a blend of mad and embarrassed, after all he just learned his only child was not normal, failed first grade and his brain was broke. The only other time I ever saw my dad look like that was when he let my uncle Ossy drive his cherished Indian Chief motorcycle and he totaled it out a block from the house. 

Mom looked a cross between numb and frightened. She resorted to the only thing she knew to do, pray. Mom was the classic church lady of a small Pentecostal church and her solution for everything bad in life was prayer. It was absolutely surreal, up until this happened I was the little man, the cute, bright future of my family. Mom believed I was going to become the biggest TV evangelist in the world and go to Israel and save all the Jews by convincing them Christ was their Lord and savior, no pressure there. Grandma thought I’d be president for sure.

When we got home Mom called the family and gathered them together to tell them the news. My family was a little vaster than most kids I knew. I was the youngest of five living generations. I lived with my mom and dad, next door to mom’s parents. Great Grand Mom and her mom lived about a mile away. We were all about twenty years apart in age.

Having a huge family had its perks. For me it was telling the story in school when the teacher would have us relate something about ourselves to the class. I would always start, "Well, I live with my mom, her mom and her mom," then I’d pause for dramatic effect and end with, "and mom’s mom's, mom’s, mom." The kid’s eyes would get big with amazement and disbelief as I would began a story. Invariably the teacher would always stop me. "Now Ricky, this is not a fiction assignment," or some such line. I had set the hook, so I’d toy with the teacher until she was ready to make me sit down, then I’d whip out my picture, proof in glorious black and white, all five generations sitting together on a couch. I loved it. It was really like being in the Walton’s family. I was the only kid I knew who had six living grandmothers, four on mom’s side and two on dad's.

Once all five generations were assembled, my parents tried their best to explain why I had failed first grade and that there was something wrong with my brain. Grandma and great grandma all but laughed it off and said it was the silliest thing they ever heard. Great, great granny just sat in her wheel chair and stared at me, but the fact was I had failed first grade and had an appointment with a brain doctor.

Within a week I was in Dallas at the office of Dr. Levins, an absolute ancient man, who I remember thinking looked funny and was fat. The waiting room was full, packed in fact with kids about my age. Some seemed totally normal, others had obvious problems such as deformed features, kids in wheelchairs, and kids with abnormal shaped heads to name just a few. Some were acting out by yelling, some running uncontrollably and some sitting watching the spectacle like I was.

My turn came and they escorted me alone to the back room. Not really a doctor’s office, but a big building with no separation walls filled with jumbled sounds of a few dozen kids and technicians. There were lines of devices against the walls with kids moving from one to the next in order. These devices were rather archaic even for the 60s, most made of raw unpainted plywood and nailed together. Each “box” was a little different, but most of them had eye holes and some had arm holes. You would look into the eye holes and try to manipulate things inside the box with your hands, or read numbers and letters. One device I remember was a box in which they ask me to stack simple blocks, the box was built in a way that each eye was separated so you would see something different with each eye because of a mirror. One “test” had me walking on the edge of a 2X4 a foot off the ground while reading words on a poster in front of me. I remember clearly thinking how easy these "tests" were.

While some of the kids were having trouble accomplishing these task I sailed through them like a breeze. In all there were probably a dozen of these devices and as I progressed from one to the next, Dr. Levins walked along with a clipboard writing notes and muttering unrecognizable sounds of disapproval, which made no sense to me at all, I was good at this stuff. My balance was great; I could have walked across the two by four on my hands at eight, for real. I remember so clearly thinking after this they will know they were mistaken and apologize to me and my parents for their stupid mistake.

From there they put me in a bed and shaved about twenty little, round spots on my head and with a gum-type substance hooked wires all over my head and gave me a pill to knock me out while they watched whatever they watched on a black and white screen. This process took about six hours and made me look very silly with my burr haircut covered in shaved polka-dots of skin. Then I was put in a small room with a strange little man who asked me the most stupid questions and wrote down the answers in a little black notebook.

The only question I remember is "Does a cow give coffee, tea, or milk?" I remember thinking how stupid the question was and laughing at the little man.  I answered 'coffee' because I thought it was a joke. Dr. Levins then met with my folks and me. He had a serious look and tone, my parents sank further and further into a visibly depressed state as he explained his findings.

"Your son is ambidextrous, he can write and draw with both hands the same. He can throw and kick with either side as well. This is not normal," he explained, "and must be addressed."  He held out both hands palms up as if to yell, "MY GOD PEOPLE, YOUR SON IS AMBIDEXTROUS!" It was like he was telling them I had two heads and a tail.

He also told them I had too much energy, which was causing me to act out. I guess he didn’t know that every morning before school mom made me five pieces of white toast covered with butter and a big bowl of honey to sop it in. Mom always said "Honey and sugar, now that’s brain food."

Some things you just never forget, what the Doctor said next was such a thing and is permanently sand blasted into my brain.

"Essentially your son’s brain is wired backwards."

All I heard was "brain in backwards." That’s what my parents heard too, their only kid’s brain was in backwards. I remember it so clearly the feeling of fear that surged through me when he said that. I think that’s when it really sank in for me that I was different from other kids, and not in a good way. I remember visualizing in my mind's eye, them cutting my head open to turn my brain around, silly I know, but remember I was a silly seven year old boy.

I looked at my folks and their expressions confirmed it, everything was wrong, not only was my world changing, theirs was too. My mother asked desperately, "what can we do?" Doctor Levins' response was twofold. “Well Mrs. Dodson, first he will need to be medicated for the hyperactivity." As he spoke he wrote a prescription for Ritalin and handed it to her. Then he said, "and of course he will need to be put in a special school. They will help him with his problems and teach him to cope in the world."

As a father I can only imagine how devastated my parents were after that meeting. The ride home was somber, almost no words were spoken on the hour long trip. Mom fought back tears as best she could and Dad looked a cross between mad and shocked. I don’t think he ever really bought any of it, but mom did. He had no choice except to go along with it. Dr. Levins was a brain doctor, and dad built houses, and if he had of said what he was thinking, Mom would have reminded him of that.

Mom told me it was going to be OK and not to worry. It was obvious, even to a silly kid, she was not at all sure of what she was saying, it was not going to be OK. It was a traumatic day for me and all involved. I can still remember how frightened I was of the unknown. I did not know what was happening, but I knew my life was changing fast. I had no idea what they were going to do to me, but it couldn’t be good. My young mind was generating horrible images that have stuck with me for almost fifty years.

My Spells
It was the beginning of summer break and for the most part everything returned to normal for me, everything except I was now taking an extremely strong mind-altering drug numerous times a day. Only I was aware of the bizarre effects it was having on me. We knew nothing about this new medicine. Ritalin was a relatively new drug on the market at that time and I suppose no one knew much about it. It was without a doubt the favorite flavor of the time though, because looking back it seemed like everyone I knew was on it.

Within a few weeks everyone in my family called them, "Ricky’s nerve pills." We got the pills in a big white bottle with a metal screw on cap. If I remember correctly there were one thousand pills in each bottle. Mom kept them in the refrigerator and told me to take one when I felt like I needed it. In my mind, the pills were supposed to fix whatever was wrong with me, so I took a lot of them.

What I did not know then, none of us did, was that Ritalin was a speed. Years after I took them I learned it is the only other drug from cocaine that the monkey would choose over food until it starved to death. The government classifies it now with morphine and cocaine because of its extremely addictive quality. Supposedly it’s a speed to people after puberty, but before puberty it acts as a sedative. They still give kids Ritalin for hyperactivity and ADHD, but I guess they closely monitor it now, I sure hope so.

No one monitored it in my house. I ate them like candy. If Mom got mad at me for tracking mud in the house I’d take a pill. If Mom and Dad were not getting along I’d take a pill. I remember my dog ran away, I took several over that. Within a month it seemed like every time I walked near the kitchen I’d think of a reason to need a pill. My entire mom’s started saying "My God I’m nervous, give that kid another pill!"

This book is now available in e-book and paperback from Xlibris and most places books are sold. You may also order them from me.  512-8475191

© 2014 Ricky Charles Dodson

Author's Note

Ricky Charles Dodson
This is my first book. I would love to know what you think.

My Review

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Featured Review


I sat at my computer to read a few chapters of this book and did not get up until I had finished it. What an insightful adventure! He certainly comes by his storytelling talents naturally. I thoroughly enjoyed the "highs" and even the lows, if I'm to be honest. I recommend this book to everyone, but especially to anyone who thinks they cannot overcome (much less THRIVE), broken parts of their past. Thank you Rick for sharing. Mona Mellon

Posted 10 Years Ago

This is one wild story and it held my attention. I hope this author writes more. FB

Posted 11 Years Ago

Rick makes you feel like you are sitting around a campfire telling tales. He has a knack of pulling you into his story and making you want more. I laughed and cried, sometimes in the same paragraph!! Thank you for sharing your book Rick. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more in the future. Marsha Whitley

Posted 11 Years Ago

Rick Dodson's book is at once intimately personal and universally accessible. A powerful story of the triumph of self over the crushing forces of ignorance and the state. Bravo!
Sean Poole

Posted 11 Years Ago

When I was writing this my intentions was to publish it. When I finished it I just wanted it to be read. I would imagine there are others out there with similar stories, but I have never met one. I hope this story opens some eyes to the fact that at least then this was an experiment and us kids were nothing more than test subjects. I just got caught up in it. I also hope that any parents with kids on Ritalin get an idea of what this drug can do to their kids. I also hope that any young people who read this will understand that no matter what hand they were dealt they can be anything they want to be.

Posted 11 Years Ago

"I was so honored, and more than a bit curious, when Rick asked me to be his "first reader." He said "these stories'll kinda make you see what made me, me." Well, if you know Rick, and what a wonderfully unique and creative person he is, then you'll understand why I couldn't wait to dive in! Some people are handed the world on a silver platter, and still manage to waste their lives. Others, like Ricky Charles Dodson, get handed a pile of poop -- and use it to create an amazing garden. Read this book, and find out what made this guy one-of-a-kind!" Becky Thomas Lane

Posted 11 Years Ago

I was a little bit reluctant to start reading this book but once I started, I didn't want to quit until I'd finished it. This is an excellent read and I'd recommend it to anyone.
Donald Heller

Posted 11 Years Ago

I really found Rick's stories amazing, he's a true survivor, with style. The insights into another world, for me having grown up in a big city, were elaborated in such a living way, like the reader gets to tag-along by his side. I cheered at the successes gained against all odds, and welled-up with emotion at the poignant points, trying to be in his shoes through all of that stuff. I highly recommend this book for its honest and intimacy, a bird-eye view of a life well-lived. JF

Posted 11 Years Ago

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10 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on June 23, 2012
Last Updated on March 12, 2014
Tags: free e-book, public school system, pentacostal church, bigfoot, story, artist, flamework, lampwork, RCD, Ricky Charles Dodson, bad school, special ed, funny story, sad story, Norbu Chen, faith healers


Ricky Charles Dodson
Ricky Charles Dodson

Wimberley, TX

Ricky Charles Dodson's new book FREE on line here. " My God I'm Nervous Give That Kid Another Pill" A true story. My sculptures - You Tube - "THERCDSHOW" more..