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CHAPTER SEVEN






Charlie drove all through the night. He felt tired and anxious. He needed to get back to Los Angeles to try and save his business. He was losing timethat he did not have.

The next evening they stopped at the hotel. Their room had a small bathroom. Charlie wen to have a bath. Raymond was cleaning his teeth, and his mouth was full of toothpaste.

Dont use so much toothpaste, Ray ! Charlie said.

But Raymond continued cleaning his teeth. Toothpaste came out of his mouth and dropped on to his shirt.

Will you stop that, Ray ! Charlie said. But Raymond did not stop. You like it , Charlie Babbit, he muttered.

Charlie shook his head. No, I do not like it ! he shouted.

You say, Funny Rain Man ... funny teeth.

Suddenly Charlie stopped shouting. Funny Rain Man. Rain Man ! That was the name of his secret friend when he was a child. What did you say? he asked.

You cant say Raymond, his brother said. Youre a baby. You say, Rain Man. Funny Rain Man.

Charlie sat down on the side of the bath. He didnt know what to think. He was finding it difficult to breathe. You ... youre the Rain Man? Charlie said finally.

Raymond put his hand in his pocket and pulled out an envelope. He opened an envelope and carefully took out a small photograph.

Charlie took the photograph and looked at it. A young man of about eighteen was looking at the camera, but not smiling. He was holding a baby in his arms. The baby was Charlie Babbit, and the young man was Raymond Babbit.

Daddy took the picture, Raymond said.

Charlie looked at the photograph for a long time. He was astinished. He and Raymond. Charlie and Raymond. Charlie and the Rain Man.

And you ... lived with us then ? When ... did you leave us ?

It was Thursday, Raymond said.

Which Thursday, Ray?

It was snowing outside. Maria stayed with you when Daddy took me to my home. January 21st, 1965. On a Thursday.

Thats when our mother died, Charlie breathed softly. Just after new Year.



And you had your coat. And you waved to me from the window. Goodbye, Rain Man. Goodbye, Rain Man. On a Thursday

Suddenly Charlie remembered deep into his past. He remembered the snow. And waving to rain Man. And later crying. Crying for Rain Man. He wanted Rain Man, but Rain Man didnt come. He never came again.

I sat with that coat, Charlie said. Now he remembered his brothers eighteen-year-old face. And you sang to me.

For a minute Raymond just looked at his brother. Then, very softly, he began to sing a song by The Beatles.

When Raymond finished singing, Charlie moved closer to him. Then he said, I remember I liked it. When you sang to me.

But Raymond was cleaning his teeth again. Charlie picked up the photograph and muttered something about how nice it was. Then he put it down on the side of the bath and turned onthe water.

Suddenly Raymond began to scream. No, no, no, no ! Charlie looked up and saw a terribleexpression on his brothers face. Raymond was looking down at the water. Its BURNING him! he screamed.

Quickly, Charlie turned offthe water. He remembered it all now. His brother was givinga two-year-old boy a baththat was too hot. Sanford Babbit screaming, Hes burning Charlie! Hes going to kill him !

That was why his father sent Raymond to Wallbrook. That was the end of the relationship between Charlie and Rain Man. And poor Raymond remembered it all.

Its OK, Ray, Charlie said softly to his brother. Its OK, man. I didnt burn. Im fine.

*

It was late. Raymond was sleeping on one of the beds in the hotel rooms. Charlie lay on the other bed, and smoked a cigarette. He felt very tired and very sad. He needed someone to love. Someone who loved him. He needed Susanna.

Charlie pulled the telephone towards him.

Hello ?

Hello, its me, Charlie, he said softly.

There was no answer.

I .... I just want to hear ... that our relationship is not ...

Charlie waited for Susanna to say something. When she still did not speak, he said, Im frightened that its finished between us.

Finally, Susanna spoke. Dont ask me today, Charlie. You wont like my answer. Give me some time.

Im going to get custody of Ray. Ive talked to my lawyer and he says that it is possible. Firstly, I have to take Ray to see a special doctor in Los Angeles.

Charlie, they wont give you custody of Ray, Susanna said. Dr. Bruner has looked after him for more than twenty years. Youve known him for four days.

She didnt understand. Nobody understood his relationship with Raymond. Can I phone you when I get back to Los Angeles ?

Susanna didnt say yes, but she didnt say no either.

 



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