They left Las Vegas the next morning, and drove back to Los Angeles. Susanna sat next to Charlie in the front of the Buick. Raymond sat in the back of the car and watched another film on his TV. Sometimes he looked out at the desert they were driving through.
Once Raymond drove the car for a few minutes. The road was empty so there was no danger.
‘I’m a… very good… driver,’ Raymond said.
Susanna got out at her flat in Santa Monica. Charlie and Raymond drove on to Charlie’s house in Los Angeles.
There was a letter waiting for Charlie. It was from Dr Bruner. ‘I’m staying here in Los Angeles, at the Hotel California,’ the letter said. ‘Please come and see me. I think we need to talk.’ That night Charlie went to see Dr Bruner at his hotel.
‘Mr Babbitt, I want to stop playing games,’ Dr Bruner said. ‘My lawyer is talking to your lawyer. He is explaining to him… the facts. Raymond will see a special doctor on
Friday. This doctor will decide who gets custody of Raymond. And you are going to lose.’
‘I think that is for the doctor to decide,’ Charlie said. ‘But I have helped Raymond more in one week than you have in twenty years.’
‘You think you have helped Raymond!’ Dr Bruner said. ‘But Raymond is still autistic. He will always be autistic! Neither you nor I can change that fact.’
Charlie turned to go. ‘I’ll see you on Friday, Dr Bruner.’
‘Don’t you understand, Charlie?’ Dr Bruner called. ‘Even if they give you custody of Raymond, you will not get your father’s money. I don’t have to pay you anything.’
‘Goodbye, Dr Bruner,’ Charlie said, walking away.
Dr Bruner called after him. ‘I’ll give you two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to have Raymond back now.’
Charlie stopped walking and turned round to face the doctor. He shook his head. ‘I don’t want your money, Dr Bruner,’ he said, ‘I want my brother.’
Friday came. Dr Marston sat at his desk. Next to him was Dr Bruner. In front of him were Charlie and Raymond. The two brothers were both wearing suits.
‘There’s no easy way to say this, Mr Babbitt,’ Dr Marston began.
He did not need to continue. Charlie understood. ‘You’re sending Raymond back to Wallbrook,’ he said.
‘They can look after him there,’ Dr Marston said. ‘They understand Raymond’s problems.’
‘But Raymond has changed,’ Charlie said angrily. ‘He has only been seven days with me and already he is getting better. And you don’t like that.’
Dr Marston and Dr Bruner sat silently for a minute. Then Dr Bruner turned to Raymond.
‘How was your holiday, Raymond? Tell me what you did.’
Raymond held his little TV to his heart. ‘I played cards,’ he said. ‘With Charlie Babbitt. And I drove Daddy’s car.’
Dr Bruner laughed. ‘You drove a car, Raymond?’
‘It was on a quiet road,’ Charlie said.
‘And I danced with Susanna,’ Raymond said.
Even Charlie was surprised at this.
Dr Bruner took a pen from his pocket and wrote something down in a notebook. Then he turned to Raymond. ‘Do you want to stay with Charlie, Raymond?’ he asked.
‘I want to stay with Charlie Babbitt,’ Raymond said.
‘You see,’ Charlie said. ‘Raymond wants to stay with me.’
But Dr Bruner did not look at Charlie. He looked at Raymond. ‘Do you want to go back to Wallbrook, Raymond?’
‘I want to go back to Wallbrook.’
Dr Bruner wrote again in his notebook. Dr Marston also wrote something down.
‘But what do you want to do, Raymond?’ Dr Bruner asked again. ‘Do you want to stay with Charlie? Or do you want to go back to Wallbrook?’
Raymond was now breathing very deeply. He shook his head from side to side, and moved uncomfortably in his chair. ‘Wallbrook… Charlie Babbitt… Wallbrook… Charlie Babbitt,’ he muttered.
Charlie jumped out of his chair. ‘Stop asking him all these questions,’ he shouted. ‘You’re upsetting him.’
Now Dr Bruner looked at Charlie. ‘I’m showing you that Raymond is still autistic, Charlie,’ he said calmly.
Charlie sat down and put his head in his hands. He saw that they would never give him custody of Raymond. Perhaps they were right. Perhaps they did know how to look after Raymond at Wallbrook.
But Charlie gave Raymond something they could not give him at Wallbrook. Charlie gave Raymond love. And Raymond, in his way, gave Charlie love.
All Charlie wanted was the best for Raymond. Charlie wasn’t the loser, Raymond was the winner.
‘Ray, they want you to go back to Wallbrook,’ Charlie said slowly to his brother. He looked up at the two doctors. ‘Can I visit him?’
Dr Marston turned to Dr Bruner for an answer. ‘Of course,’ Dr Bruner answered. ‘We would like you to.’
Raymond took out his photograph. It was a lovely picture of the eighteen-year-old Raymond and the two-year-old
Charlie. Rain Man and Charlie. Brothers. Raymond handed the photograph to Charlie.
Charlie began to cry softly.
‘Are you all right, son?’ Dr Bruner asked.
Charlie looked up and smiled. Then he turned to his brother. ‘I’ll come to see you, Ray,’ he said. ‘And you can drive Dad’s car when I visit.’
‘I’m a very good driver,’ Raymond said.
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