Charlie Babbitt walked away from his father’s funeral without looking back. Getting into the car beside Susanna, he said, ‘We’re going to stay in Cincinnati another night, OK? There’s something I have to do before we go.’ Charlie started the car.

‘Where are we going now?’ Susanna asked.

‘East Walnut Hills.’

Walnut Hills is the richest part of Cincinnati. All the houses are big and very expensive.

Charlie parked the car in front of one of the largest, most expensive houses in Walnut Hills — Sanford Babbitt’s house. ‘This is my father’s place,’ he said.

Susanna got out of the car. ‘Is this where you lived when you were a boy?’ she asked, her eyes wide, full of questions.

‘Yeah, but I left when I was sixteen,’ Charlie said. He picked up the suitcases and carried them towards the house.

‘I had no idea… you came… from all this,’ Susanna said. This was a Charlie Babbitt that she didn’t know.

But Charlie wasn’t listening. He put the suitcases down and walked towards a car that was in front of the garage.

It was a 1949 Buick Roadmaster. It was light blue and everything about it was perfect.

‘I’ve always known this car,’ Charlie said in a quiet voice, ‘but I only drove it once.’

Near the garage was a flower garden with some wonderful roses.

‘Someone must water those roses,’ said Susanna, who loved flowers. ‘They’re all dying.’

‘I hate those roses!’ Charlie said suddenly.

Susanna looked at him in surprise, but Charlie was already opening the front door.

Later that afternoon, Charlie and Susanna were looking round Charlie’s old bedroom.

‘You know that car in front of the garage?’ Charlie asked suddenly.

‘It’s beautiful.’

‘My father loved that car. The car and the roses. The Buick was his car and I could never drive it. But one day I borrowed it to drive my friends round town.’

‘What happened?’

‘My father telephoned the police. He knew I had the car, but he telephoned the police and said, «Someone has stolen my car». The police stopped us and took us to the police station.’ Charlie’s face was angry now. ‘My friends’ parents came for them after an hour. My father left me there for two days.’

‘Two days!’ Susanna said. ‘And you were only sixteen. Poor Charlie!’

But now Charlie was picking up an old coat from a box in the corner of the room.

‘Is that yours, Charlie?’ Susanna asked.

Charlie didn’t answer. He was looking carefully at the little coat. ‘It’s like a map…’ he said, in a strange voice. ‘A map of my past.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘What?’ Charlie looked over at Susanna and then back at the coat. ‘Oh, I was just thinking… Susanna, when you were a child, did you have… secret friends?’

‘Yes, I think everyone does.’

‘What was the name of my secret friend?’ Charlie asked himself. He tried to remember. ‘Rain Man. That’s it. The Rain Man. When I was frightened I held this coat and listened to the Rain Man sing.’ He smiled. ‘That was a long time ago.’

Susanna laughed and touched Charlie’s arm. ‘What happened to your friend?’

‘I don’t know,’ Charlie said. ‘I just… grew up, I think.’ He turned the coat around in his hands for a few seconds longer. Then he threw it back into the box.

‘Let’s go and eat.’

Charlie Babbitt and his father’s lawyer, John Mooney, met in the dining-room that evening.

Mr Mooney put on his glasses and took some papers from his case. ‘Before I read the will,’ he said, ‘your father has asked me to read you a letter that he wrote to you. Is that all right?’

Charlie did not want to listen to his father’s letter. But he did want his father’s money. ‘Of course,’ he said.

Mooney opened an envelope and took out two pieces of expensive paper.

‘»To my son, Charles Babbitt. Dear Charles,»‘ the lawyer began. ‘»Today is my seventieth birthday. I am an old man, but I well remember the day that we brought you home from the hospital. You were the perfect child…»‘

‘He wrote it,’ Charlie said, with a very small smile. ‘I hear his voice.’

‘»And I remember too,»‘ Mooney continued reading, ‘»the day you left home. You were so angry, and you had all these big ideas…»‘

The lawyer stopped reading. He looked up at Charlie, but there was no change in the young man’s expression.

Mooney did not look up from the letter again. ‘»You did not write, or telephone, or come back into my life in any way. For all these years I have not had a son. But I want for you now what I always wanted for you. I want you to have the best life possible.»‘

John Mooney stopped reading and put the letter back into its envelope. The old lawyer seemed sad. Charlie did not say anything. He just sat there waiting for Mooney to read the will.

Now Mooney picked up the will. Without looking at Charlie, he began to read.

‘»To Charles Sanford Babbitt, I give my 1949 Buick. I also give him my roses.»‘

Charlie moved anxiously in his chair. He did not like what he was hearing.

‘»I am leaving my home and all my money to someone who is very important to me. Because this person cannot use the money, a friend will look after the money for him.»‘

Mooney stopped reading and looked up.

‘I don’t understand,’ Charlie said.

‘Your father’s money, around three million dollars, will go to someone who cannot use it,’ Mooney explained. ‘Another person will look after the money.’

So Charlie Babbitt was not getting his father’s house, or his father’s money.

‘What’s the name of the person who is going to get the money?’ he asked.

John Mooney put the will back into his bag. ‘The will says that I cannot tell you.’

Charlie was beginning to get angry. ‘Who is this person who’s going to look after the money? You?’

‘No, it isn’t me,’ Mooney said. The old lawyer stood up and picked up his hat.

‘Who is it then?’

‘I’m sorry, Charles,’ Mooney said. ‘I’m your father’s lawyer. I can’t tell you.’ He walked towards the door and then turned to face Charlie. ‘I’m sorry, son. I can see that you’re upset, but -‘

‘Upset?’ Charlie jumped out of his chair. ‘I get an old car and some roses. Wonderful! And this man without a name -‘

‘Charles -‘

‘This secret person gets three million dollars!’

‘Charles -‘

‘Sanford Babbitt. You want to be his son for five minutes?’ Charlie shouted. ‘Did you hear that letter? Were you listening?’ Charlie was so angry, he could not continue speaking.

‘Yes, sir, I was,’ John Mooney replied, looking at Charlie straight in the eye. ‘Were you?’


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