Notes from the Heart Healer (2012) Script

MAN 1 ON RADIO: ...Pan Transit 848. See you next time.

MAN 2 ON RADIO: Happy holidays, 848.

PILOT ON RADIO: Middleborough Approach, Pan Transit 848 descending through 12,000.

PT 848, Middleborough Approach, radio contact 60 miles north of the airport.

Reduce speed to 210 knots.

You're cleared at 10,000, squawk 6371.

PT 848 copy, cleared to 10,000.

Maintain 210, squawking 6301.

Morning, Jim.

Hey, Peyton. How's the column going?

You been reading it?

Occasionally.

And?

And your picture looks great!

PILOT ON RADIO: Middleborough Approach, PT 848, we're experiencing a little electrical problem.

848, are you declaring an emergency?

Not at this time, Middleborough.

We'd just like to expedite our landing.

He liked my picture. The writing stinks, but he liked my picture.

Morning, Chief.

Don't call me "Chief," this is not the Daily Planet.

And don't ever ask anyone what they think of your column.

I don't have a column.

Yeah, well, I'm beginning to wish I didn't, either.

Speaking of which, Nora wants to see you, and I quote, "the second she drags her butt in here."

Perfect. She probably wants to comment on my picture, too.

What?

What have you got on your face?

(EXCLAIMS)

It's part of the look.

Just so you know, most people pay to have stuff like that removed.

PILOT ON RADIO: Middleborough Approach, PT 848, we got a generator issue here. We're losing altitude.

848, say again.

I say again, we're losing power to avionics.

We're going to declare an emergency at this time.

Stand by, 848. KB Air, 114, Middleborough...

Fire Control, we have an emergency on final approach, runway 21 right.

(BELL RINGING)

MAN: MacGruder.

How goes the struggle "to uplift and inform"?

Impressive, Kingston. You are probably the only one at the Times who not only knows what it says on our masthead, but actually quotes it.

This paper's my life, Peyton. Thought you knew that.

Hey, hey, hey. What's your hurry?

Why don't you pull up a step? Chat for a minute?

I can't. I've been called to the principal's office.

What are you doing out here, anyway?

Smoking a cigar.

A cigar?

It's virtual.

What?

I would if I could.

PT 848, Middleborough. We got you at 20 miles, straight in.

Descend to 5,000.

PILOT ON RADIO: We seem to be getting fumes in the cockpit.

Could be an electrical fire.

848, you're cleared to land on runway 21 right.

Winds are variable, three knots. Altimeter two niner niner one.

Got your message.

Good. Sit down.

Sounded kind of urgent.

Results are in from the last reader survey, and the corporate bean-counters have made some recommendations.

Such as?

Such as dumping your column.

They can't do that!

Please. Of course they can.

Look at these numbers!

Out of our four regular features, your column ranks the lowest.

How many e-mails do you get a week?

Dozens.

When Emma Duncan wrote the column, she got 1,000.

In the last 10 months since she died and you took over "The Heart Healer," your readership has steadily declined.

My column is filled with good, practical information.

Which is fine for the Style Section.

During your time there, your writing was excellent.

But when you asked for your own column and this became available, I told you you'd have to do more. You'd have to give it your all.

I am! You're not!

You're not giving it that part of you it needs to attract a following.

"The Heart Healer" has no heart!

You're not touching your readers.

PT 848, Middleborough. We have you at six miles on final.

Do you have visual contact?

PILOT ON RADIO: Maintain stable flight level.

PT 848, say again.

Get everybody in lifejackets, now.

MAN: We've got fire on board! I repeat, fire in the...

Emergency equipment is deployed and standing by.

We have you at four miles. Maintain descent.

Pan Transit 848, Middleborough.

PT 848, Middleborough. Acknowledge.

PT 848, Middleborough. Acknowledge!

Christmas is in three weeks.

If you can't hook your readers during the holidays, you never will.

Excuse me, Nora, a Pan Transit jet just crashed off the coast.

Oh, my gosh.

Improve these numbers by Christmas, or you're out.

(SIGHS)

MAN ON RADIO: Pan Transit flight 848 en route from New York's JFK experienced a catastrophic electrical failure and crashed into the ocean just off Middleborough, North Carolina, this morning.

You okay?

A Pan Transit spokesman reported one hundred and...

The airline just released the passenger list.

I knew a couple people on that flight.

Oh, gosh. King, I'm sorry.

Tom Harold and his wife. He was the pitching coach at State when I played for them about a hundred years ago.

And I thought I was having a bad day.

You want to grab a coffee? Have that chat now?

Chat, yes. Coffee, no.

KING: He was the best coach and teacher I ever had.

And here you go.

Oh, thank you.

Cool wife, too.

Adrienne.

She insisted that he take her to no less than two Broadway shows every year.

That's probably why they were in New York.

I guess you never know.

I wonder...

If they did know. What?

Your friends, the other people on the plane, I wonder if they knew they were gonna die.

MacGruder, morbid much?

I'm sorry.

I just can't stop thinking about it. You know, was it sudden?

Did they all die instantly?

Or did they have some time to say goodbye?

To say, "I love you."

To hold each other and know it was the last time.

Sounds like a "Heart Healer" column to me.

You know something, we work on the same floor for four years.

We finally go out and have a real conversation, and you make fun of me. Nice.

Who's making fun? I'm just saying there's likely to be some serious mail coming your way.

I hope not. I couldn't handle that responsibility.

Which is why I probably should never have asked for this column in the first place.

Does this have anything to do with you having had a bad day?

Nora is giving me until Christmas to improve my readership, or...

That's harsh.

Still, nothing like a plane crash to lend a little perspective to your problems.

TRUMAN: ...to retrieve the wreckage from the downed aircraft.

Now there's little or no hope of finding any alive of the 137 passengers on board the flight which originated in New York.

Officials say it could take up to weeks, perhaps a month, before any final list or picture emerges of what exactly happened in the final moments of flight 848.

REVEREND: Lord of the universe, Lord of the sea and sky, send us your guidance and grace at this moment of great loss.

Comfort our families and friends and strengthen our faith in spite of our fears.

Help us to support one another with the assurance that our loved ones are indeed at peace with you, now that they know all of the great secrets of the universe.

Amen. ALL: Amen.

TRUMAN: Get the ocean in the background.

Keep me in the shot as I walk down the hill, all right?

Okay, I'm going to go talk to these people.

(TRUMAN CHATTERING)

I'm sorry. I don't want to intrude on you.

Excuse me.

Are you a friend or family member?

No. I'm a reporter, well, I mean, I write a column for the Middleborough Times.

Sorry to interrupt...

Look, I can only imagine how you must be feeling right now, and I know the last thing you need is a reporter asking you personal questions, but I was wondering if you could share...

Reverend, perhaps you'd care to comment...

PEYTON: How does he do it?

I mean, how do these network guys find the chutzpah to shove a microphone in someone's face and ask how it "feels" to lose a child or a father, or...

How does a guy like Truman Harris sleep at night?

Comfortably wrapped in the arms of any woman he wants.

The dude is totally awesome.

You're not helping.

Sorry.

Okay. Let's review.

You've gotten letters about the crash, but you think it's too ghoulish to interview the relatives.

Correct.

So why not write about how you, "The Heart Healer," feel about loss?

That doesn't work for me.

Why not? It just doesn't.

Talk about your perfect opportunity to write with emotion...

I said no!

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you.

You know what? I think I'll work on this at my place.

Maybe a single-serving can of soup can inspire a little passion.

MacGruder!

I can't talk. Got to find a bridge to jump off.

So the column's going well, then.

I am totally skewered. I'm a dry well.

I have no idea what to do.

Just do your job, Peyton.

Which means, just like me and every other columnist, you may have to pry open some doors you'd rather leave closed.

Is that how you earned the prize?

I earned my Pulitzer the old-fashioned way.

Hard work? Dumb luck.

TRUMAN: ...PT 848. The FAA announced early this morning that the cause of the accident is most likely due to an electrical fire onboard the aircraft.

The pilot apparently reported trouble minutes before the fateful crash that brought the airplane down.

Speculation has it that the pilot intentionally diverted the plane away from populated areas, a strong indication that he knew...

(SWITCHES TV OFF)

So they did know.

They did have time.

Come here. Look at you.

What would I have said if I only had time for one last thought?

Peyton MacGruder? Sorry, ma'am. We have some bad news.

We're afraid your husband's been in an accident.

(SEAGULLS SQUAWKING)


Yes, in Middleborough. For Kingston Danville.

Thanks.

It's Peyton MacGruder. Did I wake you?

I'm sorry.

Look, I have something I have to talk to you about.

PEYTON: Why don't you come over in the morning? I'll cook you breakfast.

Nice job on the Christmas decorations.

What Christmas decorations?

My point exactly.

Well, who's going to appreciate it? My cat?

Wow, MacGruder. Is this how you do over easy?

I'd hate to see well done.

(CHUCKLING)

Here. Kills the carbon taste.

Well, you are a regular domestic diva, aren't you?

Sorry. I'm a little bit out of practice, but hey, the price is right.

And the waitress is cute.

(EXCLAIMS)

Okay.

So, what do you think?

Okay.

There was a huge explosion and a fire.

Could a plastic bag and a piece of paper survive all that?

I don't know. I'm asking you.

I suppose anything is possible.

This piece of life vest washed up right next to it.

So if I can get the FAA to confirm that this came from Flight 848, I think it is reasonable to assume that this did, too.

Well, they've been finding stuff all up and down the shore, so, yeah. I mean, it's reasonable.

Right. So what do I do?

What do you want to do?

Read it.

What's this stuff inside the baggie?

Cookie crumbs.

It's addressed to "T". Who's "T"?

I don't know. But I want to find out.

I want to find out who wrote it, and give it to the person that it was meant for.

And write about it in your column.

Exactly.

You know, I mean I could probably get this thing fingerprinted, or go online...

But no column.

Correct.

I want to solve the mystery of this note myself and bring my readers along for the ride, and hopefully fix my problems with Nora.

So what do you think?

I think you may have struck gold here.

Really? Yeah.

Except one thing. What?

Do you really think that a guy sitting on an airliner hurtling helplessly towards Earth is going to have the composure to write a note?

I've thought about that. The pilot notified ground control that there was a problem in the cockpit a full three minutes before the explosion.

Three minutes, King.

Yeah.

Okay.

Okay. So in those three minutes, people knew they were in trouble. I mean, they must have known, or at least had the fear that they could die.

What would you do?

Eat the cookies for sure, but write a note?

I don't know.

It's signed "Dad". If you had a kid, wouldn't you want him or her to know what was on your mind in those last, terrible minutes?

I do have a kid.

You do?

He's a boy, 19. He's away at college.

So, you actually found a woman who could put up with you, huh?

Not quite.

She dumped me for a State Farm agent six years ago.

I'm sorry.

I didn't mean to poke fun.

It's okay.

I'm way past it now.

Unfortunately, David, my...

My son, he pretty much only heard her side of the story, so he blames me for the divorce.

Thinks it was my fault.

Was it?

I don't know. Maybe.

Being on the road as much as I was.

Anyway, he is miffed at me.

Basically, we have zero relationship.

So, in your last couple of minutes on this planet...

Uh...

I guess writing him a note might've crossed my mind.

Hey, how about another cup of this less-than-desirable coffee, and then I will get out of your hair.

You have a column to write.

"Dear readers, I found myself inexplicably drawn to the shore today.

"To a place where a few days before, I'd seen several family members, "gathered to mourn the loss of loved ones on flight 848.

"While there, I chanced upon a treasure.

"It was not one of jewels, or gold, but a simple handwritten note.

"Its words speak of a love as wide as the sea in which it was discovered.

"This treasure rose up amid the debris of Flight 848, and was signed only 'Dad.'

"If the message was written in the final few moments of that flight, "then it is the last communication

"from that doomed plane to those of us still living.

"Because I was entrusted with this note, "I feel that I should do everything in my power

"to unite that father on Flight 848 with his child.

"I have to do all I can to deliver the last message to a grieving soul."

Is this for real?

It's for real.

Here you go. Thanks.

A note just falls from the airplane and contains a message for somebody?

That's right.

Well, what did it say?

I can't tell you that.

But why?

I'm saving it until I find the person it was meant for.

How're you going to find them?

I'm not going to find them. We're going to find them, together.

Wow! A lot of e-mail today.

I'm not surprised. It's a phenomenal story!

A man writes a note minutes before his death and prays that it'll find its way home.

That's way cool.

Yeah, way cool.

If we can track down the owner. Grab a chair. Let's get to work.

By the way, this is top secret, okay?

Absolutely. Eyes only, chief.

Sorry.

All right. Now, the note was addressed to someone whose initial is "T."

"T." Okay, what else?

That's it. There is no "else."

That's it?

So we've just got to find out who "T" is?

"T" is the son or daughter of a man on that flight.

We're going to have to go through all of the obituaries, out-of-town newspapers, all of them, find the names of the surviving children and then narrow it down to those whose names begin with "T."

(PHONE RINGING)

MacGruder.

NORA: Peyton, I need to see you immediately.

Okay, I'll be right up.

Gotta go put out a fire.

I'm counting on you.

What's all this about a note?

What do you think you're doing?

Exactly what you told me to do. I'm injecting more heart into my column, and I'm increasing my readership.

There were more than 200 e-mails for me in my box this morning.

Two hundred?

Yeah. They're still coming in, too.

Well, what if it turns out to be a hoax?

It won't.

The FAA just confirmed that the piece of inflatable life vest that I found with the note is definitely from Flight 848.

So I'm as sure as anyone can be.

It's the real deal.

And if you can't find the person?

I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Well, I'm not convinced.

(PHONE RINGING)

What is it?

(EXCLAIMS)

All right, put him on.

Mr. Pargrave, how are you?

I just read Peyton MacGruder's column.

This business about a note that fell out of the plane...

Yes, sir. She's in my office right now.

We're just discussing that.

How certain is she of her facts?

Well, she says she is very certain.

Right. Let's run with it.

This is good stuff.

It's pulling something inspiring out of tragedy. People love that.

Yes, I suppose they do.

Let's get her an expense account.

Let her travel if she has to, within reason.

Let's see what she can make out of this little mystery.

Fine. I'll do that.

You look like you just won the lottery but you lost your ticket.

What's going on?

You first. What're you really doing out here?

(GROANING)

I used to come out here when I could smoke a stogie.

I discovered there were no phones, no interruptions.

Unless, of course, there's a fire.

Or you find yourself in need of a therapy session.

So what's your problem?

It didn't really hit me until I left Nora's office.

What hit you?

I'm going to have to interview people.

Grieving people. People who've just lost a father on that flight.

Yeah, sure. I mean, you can't get around that.

But the thought of doing it makes me

sick to my stomach.

Well, maybe it's hard for you, because you once were on the receiving end of the same kind of questions.

Wait a minute.

How did you know about my husband's accident?

Well, I, I Googled you.

When?

When I saw you get off the elevator.

This morning?

Four years ago. Your first day on the job.

King, have you been crushing on me?

Maybe. So what?

So... So, I'm... I'm flattered.

Yeah.

I am, really.

Well, that's... That's nice, but we have not solved your problem yet, have we?

No, we haven't.

And under the circumstances, I mean us just having been necking here in the stairwell and all.

Necking?

That's how I plan to remember it in my memoirs.

Anyway, I, I feel it's appropriate for me to offer up some advice from my deep, deep well of journalistic experience.

I'm all ears.

Look, you can either say to yourself, "I'm intruding

"into the lives of these poor, grieving people..."

Or? Or, you can say to yourself, "I'm giving these poor, grieving people the opportunity

"to talk to someone."

'Cause in the end, what we all really need is someone willing to listen.

Hey, we're finished with the "K's" and we're starting with the "L's."

And I'm starting to worry.

Why?

Well, at first I was afraid there'd be too many, you know, like dozens and dozens.

But here it's the second day, and not a single one.

We haven't even gone through half the list yet.

"T" is out there. I know he is.

Caffeine confidence.

What is that? Like your sixth triple grande espresso since lunch?

Seventh, but who's counting? Besides you, I mean.

Oh, my gosh. I got a live one.

Let me see! Let me see!

In Morehead City.

(PHONE RINGING)

Peyton MacGruder's desk.

Yes, she is. Hold on one second, please.

You are never going to believe who this is!

Peyton MacGruder.

Ms. MacGruder, Truman Harris.

Yes, Mr. Harris. What can I do for you?

Well, first, you can call me "Tru."

All right, Tru.

What's up?

Liked your "note" story. It's a great premise.

How would you like to take it national?

What do you mean, "national"?

I'm leaving in a few hours for New York to do my show, but maybe we can meet before I go.

I could bring a crew, get you talking about the note on tape, cut the footage into a tease.

We could air it on tonight's show if we work fast.

I don't know, Truman. I don't think I'd be interested.

Well, think of the exposure.

With TV coverage, you can find your missing person in no time.

Thanks, but I plan to do the story as a continuing feature for my readers.

Television isn't what I had in mind. Sorry.

Well, I guess I'll just have to put on my thinking cap and come up with a way to persuade you.

I wouldn't waste my time.

That's something I never do.

That was Truman Harris!

I know.

So spill! What'd he want?

A story. Our story.

And you said no? Yeah, I said no.

Come on, let's get back to our guy in Morehead City.

All right, Winston Lavery.

Survived by a daughter and a son, Reverend Timothy with a "T" Lavery of St. Louis.

MANDI: Are you crazy?

You said no to Truman Harris, the hottest thing on TV?

Before you completely melt down, will you please get me a plane ticket to St. Louis?

There is a man there to whom I hope to deliver a very special Christmas gift!

Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, everybody.

PEYTON: "Dear Readers, I'll have no way of knowing

"for whom the note was written until I've talked to each prospect."

Thank you.

"I'm waiting for the right person to identify the shadows of concern in this note

"and recognize them as a familiar love.

"What would you say to a loved one if you only had a few seconds

"to impart a last message?

"What language does love speak?

"That's what I'm hoping to find on this leg of my journey."

(PHONE RINGING)

Peyton MacGruder's desk.

It's Truman Harris calling. Is Peyton available?

Mr. Harris. No, I'm sorry, she's not.

That's too bad. Who's this?

Me? I'm Mandi Hillridge.

Hey, Mandi. Are you a reporter, too?

No. I'm just an intern.

No, no such thing as "just an intern."

I'd bet you Peyton'd have a rough time writing that column without you.

Listen, Mandi, has Peyton left for St. Louis?

Yes, Mr. Harris, she...

Hey, hey. Call me "Tru."

She just called, Tru. Her appointment was postponed until tomorrow.

Well, that's great! It means I have time to meet her.

We're... We're collaborating on this note story. I don't know if you know that.

No, but that's wonderful! I told her that she should.

You two will make a terrific team.

You know what? I think so, too.

Listen, I'm sure she'll call, but in case we cross connections, could you remind me? When and where is that appointment again?

Tomorrow at 11:00 at the Holy Fortress Baptist Church.

Thank you, Mandi. I look forward to meeting you.

Okay. Bye.

PEYTON: Here you go. Thanks.


Very pretty.

The Sunday-schoolers make them out of recycled cans.

The congregation buys them to raise money for the poor.

Never ceases to amaze me how these people, who have so little themselves, give so freely to those who have even less.

Miss MacGruder, I assume?

Yes. Reverend Lavery?

Most folks just call me Brother Tim. Or Tim, if you like. Have a seat.

Thank you.

First, let me just say that I'm very sorry for your loss.

Thank you.

My mom died when I was a kid, and my dad died about three years ago, so I know how hard it can be.

I know where my Pop is, and that makes me very happy.

I don't know what your religious affiliation is, Peyton, or if you even have one, but that's what I believe, and it gives me great comfort.

And that makes this visit so much easier for me.

You told me on the phone that you might have something for me.

I subscribed to your paper on the Internet to read your column.

I assume that you brought the... The note that you found?

Yes, I have a photocopy for you to look at.

Well,

someone will be incredibly happy to receive this.

Someone?

It's not mine, Peyton.

I hope that doesn't disappoint you, but there's no way my Pop wrote this.

You're certain?

He would never address me as "T." I was always "Timothy" to him.

And he would never sign anything as "Dad."

He was "Pop." Not just to me, but to everyone he knew.

Well, would you mind, then, if I asked just a couple more questions for my column?

Sure.

Can you tell me what your relationship with your father was like?

Well, you have to understand this.

My... My father built this church.

He... He started out preaching on street corners and in alleys, slowly gathering his flock, some of whom still come here every Sunday.

I grew up in this church.

I found my faith here. I married my wife here.

I christened my little girl here.

And when he decided to retire last year, I took his place here.

That must've made him very proud.

Yes.

A few months ago, the... The Bishop offered me a new posting. Uptown.

Big church. Big congregation. Big potential.

What did your father think of that?

Well, that's why he came out here.

He told me to go for it, 'cause that's what he thought I wanted to hear.

But it wasn't?

If I take that job, this will be my last Christmas in this church.

Didn't God once use a star to help guide people who were searching for a new beginning?

Yes, he did.

Maybe what you told me about these precious little stars can help guide you.

I do love this scrappy little congregation.

And this church is ingrained in my soul.

I want to thank you, Peyton.

For what?

For the visit, and this.

I don't understand. I thought you said that...

No, he didn't write it.

But this note helped me to think about my last conversation with Pop, and about what I know he felt in his heart, regardless of what he said.

About what's important, and how I want to spend the time that I have been given on this earth.

And for that, I'm very grateful.

Reverend Lavery, I'd like to ask you about the note.

Was it written by your father?

I didn't know anything about this. I'm sorry.

It's okay. And who are you?

Truman Harris. National Television Broadcasting.

My... My viewers are interested in a note purportedly written by a passenger on PT Flight 848.

I was wondering if you could shed any light on that subject.

I could, but I think I'm going to leave that to Ms. MacGruder.

No comment.

Let's back up for a wide shot.

MAN: Okay, pull back. Get a whole shot of the church.

Oh, your star.

Keep it.

Is this more than... Than just a column for you?

I don't know what you mean.

Well, maybe that note is meant to be your star, and guide you to whatever it is you're looking for.

TRUMAN: Well, folks, you heard the man. I guess we're gonna have to wait for Peyton MacGruder's next column to find out whether the note was meant for Reverend Timothy Lavery, or not.

Reporting from St. Louis, I'm Truman Harris, with National Television Broadcasting.

All right, that's it. Let's wrap it up and go home.

What are you doing?

Earning a living, just like you.

And how did you know to come here?

It's a confidential source. I'm sorry.

This is my story.

It's a free country, MacGruder, I can report on anything I want as long as it's accurate.

Well, without the note, you've really got nothing.

No, I've got you, Peyton, and your heartwarming quest.

Now, the only thing that would make that better is if we work together.

Come on, come on.

We become a team, we could milk this for a Christmas special.

Don't hold your breath.

I don't think holding my breath is going to be necessary.

(PHONE RINGING)

(MOANING)

Yeah?

KING: Nice greeting. Turn on the TV.

Why?

You'll see. I'm on my way with Chinese.

Truman Harris, National Television Broadcasting.

My viewers are interested in a note purportedly written by a passenger on PT Flight 848.

Could you shed any light on that subject?

I could, but I think I'd like to leave that to Ms. MacGruder.

No comment.

Despite Reverend Lavery's reluctance to answer our question, we have learned from a reliable source that Tim Lavery is not the man to whom the note was written.

We'll continue to follow this unfolding story on tomorrow's show.

Until then, I'm Truman Harris, and this is National Television Broadcasting.

You stole my story!

Grab some chopsticks, why don't you? Lemon chicken'll help dull the pain.

I don't want to dull the pain. I want it to fester, so the next time I see Harris, I'll feel good about running him over with my car!

How come I've never seen this sensitive streak in you before?

Because nothing like this has ever happened to me before!

Sit. Eat. Come on. Before you completely snap your wrapper.

So what exactly happened in St. Louis?

Nothing that Harris hasn't already reported.

What he reported was Lavery isn't your man.

I mean, that's a good thing, isn't it?

I mean, 'cause if number one's your guy, then your series is over.

Now you get to bring up batter number two and keep the inning alive.

Yeah, if I can stay ahead of that rat Harris.

(MOANS)

You'll find a way.

Curtis Pargrave came down to the newsroom today.

How come? To say that your column was hitting a nerve.

Pargrave said that?

We're selling out every issue you're in, the online subscriptions are way up, people all over the country are reading you on the net.

Wow.

Well, your enthusiasm is underwhelming.

Sorry. What?

On the plane today, it occurred to me, you know, there was some turbulence, and I thought, "What if...

"What if this plane were going down? Who would I write to?"

You are so macabre.

What I realized is there isn't anyone.

MacGruder.

There isn't! There isn't a single soul that I would have to say goodbye to.

We could change that.

Anyway, look, I'm worried about you.

Just be careful you don't let your story make you another victim of this plane crash.

King?

Thanks.

For the free psych session?

For the kung pao.

PEYTON: "Dear reader, I have just returned from a typical mid-American city, "its snow-covered halls well decked with Christmas cheer, "its children sledding or skating

"or poking carrot noses and coal eyes into snowmen faces.

"The journey took me not to a house, but to a church

"to meet my first prospect to receive the note I found.

"A man of God, as it turns out, as was his father before him.

"I showed the pastor a copy of the note and it took only a moment for him to conclude, "as has been reported on TV, that it had not been written by his 'Pop.'

"He had good reasons, and I am convinced the note had not been intended for him.

"Nonetheless, I believe the note had a profound effect.

"It offered the reverend an unexpected opportunity, "a second chance if you will, to reconsider a recent and life-changing decision.

"The note, and the plane crash, served as a reminder to him, "and to all of us, that life is fragile

"and we must live each day as though it might be our last."

I am so sorry.

Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Please forgive me. I...

You have apologized twenty-five times.

I've forgiven you twenty-five times.

And what is so important in Nashville that they need to keep me on hold forever?

And besides, the only true thing about Tru Harris is that he's a dishonest dirtbag, and you and I are gonna steer clear of him, right?

Right.

Good.

WOMAN: Sorry to keep you on hold. Ms. Quist is not available.

Did you tell her it was about her father?

I did.

And she's still not available?

That's correct.

Would you like to leave a number where she can reach you?

I did that three calls ago.

Look, just tell her that I called again, remind her that it's important, and ask her please to call me back.

I'll be sure to do that.

Oh, my gosh!

MANDI: What?

Have you seen all these e-mails?

Nearly 2,000.

Amazing!

Peyton, do you see what time it is?

Oh, yikes. I was due upstairs three minutes ago!

Okay, when I'm done up there, I'm gonna go straight to the airport.

Miss Taylor Quist is going to see me, like it or not!

(PHONE RINGING)

Oh, tell them I'm on my way!

Peyton MacGruder's desk.

Glad you could make it, Ms. MacGruder.

I'm sorry. I had some last-minute travel arrangements to finish up.

I had a call this morning from the CEO of Kelliston Communications in New York.

Of course, you know they're our parent company.

They asked me to include a friend of yours in this meeting.

Hello, Peyton. It's Tru Harris.

Harris. What a surprise.

Let me get right to the point. My...

Our boss wants to make your story bigger.

Bigger?

Kelliston Communications owns the Times.

They also own NTB, which is Truman's network.

TRUMAN: Corporate wants us to join forces, Peyton.

His crew would follow you on your search for the owner of the note.

Once the rightful person is found, he or she would be revealed on a one-hour Christmas program.

Told you I'd get you a special, didn't I, Peyton?

So, what do you think?

I think that corporate should go to...

Peyton!

Look, this is a story that either I can tell, or Truman can tell.

Oh, wait a minute. I forgot.

Truman can't tell it, because he doesn't have the note.

And you don't have 3,000,000 people reading your puny column.

I have all the readers I need.

And to me, they are the only ones who count.

And I owe it to them, we owe it to them to reveal the owner of the note in "The Heart Healer!"

And after that, Harris, you can report on any darn thing you please.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch.

(HUMMING)


Can't hear you.

Button.

You gotta press the button. The button behind you? Press the button.

Oh. Hello?

I'm sorry to bother you.

My name is Peyton MacGruder.

How'd you get in here?

Oh. There was nobody out front, and I just walked...

Okay, that's not entirely accurate.

The receptionist was there, and I told her I was delivering some contracts for you.

Are you, like, a stalker or something?

No! Gosh, no!

I called.

My name's MacGruder, Peyton MacGruder, with the Middleborough Times.

Can I come in there?

Talking between the glass makes me feel like one of us is in prison.

Door's on the side. But I'm warning you, I don't give interviews.

Hi.

I liked the song you were playing, by the way.

Oh, thanks. Just noodlin' on a new tune.

You're the first to hear it. Well, you and Marabelle.

Marabelle?

My cat.

You're not allergic, are you?

Got one of my own.

Tell me you're married.

I'm not.

(SIGHS)

Two soon-to-be middle-aged women, living with their cats.

Oh, gee. I hadn't really thought of myself that way, not until recently, anyway.

Sorry. Didn't mean to offend.

So you're here all the way from North Carolina?

Uh-huh. Well, then, it must be important.

Yes. A few days after the plane crash, I found a note in a plastic bag.

It had washed ashore with some other debris from the plane, and it appears that the note was written by someone on Flight 848.

I have a copy for you to look at.

Can I get you something? Coffee?

No, thanks.

My father didn't write this note. No. No?

My father kicked me out of the house when I was 16 years old.

He had years to get in touch, and he didn't.

Now, why would he spend the last few seconds of his life writing that note?

I don't know.

Of course you don't. How could you?

How could you know anything about it?

My father gave me to my grandmother when I was 10.

Why am I telling you this?

No, please.

Go on.

My mom died. My dad was in his second year of medical school, and I guess he figured that he couldn't raise a kid and finish his studies at the same time, so...

But after that, I rarely saw my father, except around Christmastime.

My nickname for him actually became "Mr. Holiday."

"Mr. Holiday,"

I like that. I could write a song about it.

I mean, it's not that my father didn't love me, I'm sure he did, but...

Where is he now?

Gone. Died a few years ago.

I spent most of my teens strung out.

My folks finally had all they could take and kicked me out.

"Tough Love," they called it.

It took me years to get clean,

and when I finally did, I realized that

it was all my fault.

I thought about calling, but I decided that I'd put them through enough already.

But maybe I was wrong.

Maybe I should've called a long time ago.

But now, you know...

Might be time to write a note of your own.

What do you mean?

Your mother wasn't on that flight, was she?

No.

No, she wasn't.


What're you doing here?

I figured you'd be too tired to stop by the office, so I brought you the rest of the obituaries.

Atta girl.

So how was Nashville?

Rewarding.

Meaning, we have a winner?

No, Taylor Quist is not the person we're looking for, but I think the note had an effect on her, anyway.

It seems to do that to everybody.

It certainly turned my life upside down.

Which reminds me, Nora called for you.

Am I fired?

She didn't say one way or the other.

Good. So let's hold her off until the morning, 'cause I've got a column to write before this paper goes to bed.

I need a cup of tea. You want one?

Oh, no, I'm okay. This is a great place.

My husband and I bought it right after we were married.

Look at the backyard. It'd be perfect for kids.

Peyton MacGruder? I'm afraid your husband's been in an accident.

Take it easy, man. Can't you see the woman's pregnant?

Peyton?

Hey, Peyton, you all right?

Yeah.

What have you got for me?

Just one. If it's not him, we're out of luck.

Him?

Local guy. His father was a big-time real estate developer.

He owned half of the buildings in downtown Middleborough.

Nice work. You're gonna make a heck of a newspaperwoman one day.

Thanks.

You sure you don't want a cup of tea?

Can't.

Mandi, I like your outfit.

Are you kidding me? This is so not me.

Then why are you wearing it?

Blind date. Don't want to scare the guy off. See you.

(CAT MEOWS)

Well, looks like it's you and me, kiddo.

The middle-aged woman and her cat.

PEYTON: "Today I met with a well known songwriter.

"A woman who has everything. Celebrity, wealth, beauty, talent and intellect.

"Yet, I had to wonder, is she happy?

"The life I observed today would probably not satisfy most of us 'average' folks.

"You see, this woman and her family

"had a falling out years ago when she was a teenager.

"As adolescents, we are so self-centered, so focused on our own desires

"that we have trouble seeing our parents as real people.

"We see only their authority, their rules and their expectations, "not their dreams, not their strengths and not their human weaknesses.

"This woman carries a burden of alienation, "but it's by her own choosing that she shoulders the load.

"It has become a shadow she's accustomed to seeing, "and I fear it will walk with her for the rest of her life.

"I bear the burden of my own shadows.

"By showing her the note, "I had hoped to offer her the courage to step into the light.

"And in doing so, I have found myself reflected in her.

"Perhaps, as the journey continues, "I will also find the strength to leave the shadows behind.

"I say 'as the journey continues,' dear readers, "because the woman was certain the note was not written to her.

"But having read the message, my sincerest hope

"is that it will still move her to open doors too long left closed."

Hi.

Oh, I was just reading your column.

I'm proud of you, Peyton.

Really?

Not just because your writing's great, or because you've brought up the numbers, but because you've made the column your own.

So much so that you were willing to risk getting fired to protect your readers' interests.

Oh, listen, I really hope I didn't leave you in a bad position the other day with Mr. Pargrave.

Curtis Pargrave's been a "print" guy for 30 years.

He loved you standing up to those "new media" types in New York.

My knees were so wobbly, it was a wonder I could stand up at all.

Keep doing what you're doing. We'll watch your back as best we can, but don't let your guard down.

I don't think you've heard the last of Mr. Harris.

So, who's next on your list?

Tanner Walton. His father was a local developer.

Yeah. I did a piece on him a while ago. He was in business with his son.

But I thought his name was Peter.

PEYTON: Maybe a brother?

Anyway, the note was addressed to "T," so it's got to be Tanner.

And if it's not him?

Then my Christmas column's gonna be one heck of a disappointment.

(NEWSCASTER CHATTERING ON RADIO)

You look busy.

Never too busy for beer or broads.

Then since I am neither...

Sorry. Hey, sorry.

Too much time in the locker room.

What can I do for you?

Take me for a drive?

KING: This guy's the son of a real estate tycoon?

Tycoon's a bit of an overstatement.

Either that or he was cut out of the will.

So you want to go in, or what?

MacGruder?

What?

Wow.

What planet were you just on?

I'm sorry.

This note thing is just bringing up a lot of stuff for me.

Is that why you brought me along?

I don't know. I guess so.

What kind of stuff?

Peyton. What kind of stuff is it bringing up?

I guess I was just... I feel like I was given the note for a reason.

I feel like it gives everyone it touches a second chance.

To do what?

She's still alive.

Peyton?

A second chance to do what?

To fix their broken lives.

And what about you?

Me?

This note has obviously touched you.

It's kind of complicated for me.

I don't feel like I deserve a second chance.

Everyone deserves a second chance.

I should go in.

I couldn't agree with you more, Mr. Harris.

It could turn out to be a bit of good luck for both of us.

I think that's her now. So I'll see you soon.

Mr. Walton? I'm Peyton MacGruder.

Hi. Come on in.

This was written by my father.

You're sure?

It's his handwriting. And the message.

My father and I did not get along for many years.

My father was a wealthy man.

Real estate, right?

Yeah.

He wanted me and my brother, Peter, to follow him into the business, but...

I tried. But it, you know, it wasn't my thing.

To be honest, Miss MacGruder, it bored the heck out of me, so I quit.

And my father never got over the disappointment.

He took it as a personal affront.

We couldn't speak without arguing, until eventually it got to the point where we didn't speak at all.

Well, I guess, in the end, he changed his mind.

Yeah. I guess, I guess he did. That's why this note is so precious to me.

I'd never have known how he felt if you hadn't found that. So, thank you.

You have no idea what you've done for me.

So I guess you're gonna write all about this in your column.

Yes, I will, if that's all right with you.

TANNER: Sure. You can use my name, if you like.

Mr. Walton. One more question.

Did your father always call you "T"?

No, he...

No, he probably didn't have a lot of time. To write the note, I mean.

But he knew I'd understand that it was for me.

I don't suppose I could get a promise of confidentiality.

How'd you do it?

Let's see. Your column yesterday said you'd gone to meet with a songwriter.

It was easy to discover that Taylor Quist had lost her father in the plane crash.

Now, the only obvious similarity between Taylor and Reverend Timothy Lavery?

Both their names begin with "T."

And Tanner is the last "T" on the list.

Yeah. It's cake.

What makes you so sure that he's the right guy?

Said he was, didn't he?

And now what?

Well, publicity's already working on a promo for a one-hour.

Live, tomorrow night.

Getting scooped is a pain, isn't it?

I got a baseball bat back in my office.

I could turn his "stand-ups" into a "sit-down" with one well-placed swing.

They'd just tape it and turn it into another one-hour special.

Tanner Walton's definitely the right guy?

He says he is.

But you're not convinced?

Okay, let me dig around a little, see what I can come up with.

MAN: She's still alive.

What about the baby?

Will they be able to save the baby?


* Deck the halls with boughs of holly

* Fa la la la la, la la la la

* 'Tis the season to be jolly, * Fa la la la la, la la la la *

There it goes. My last column on the note.

Too bad nobody's gonna read it.

Maybe this'll cheer you up.

Thanks.

I'm sorry, how it all turned out.

PEYTON: Yeah, me too.

You know, it's not just getting scooped. It's...

MANDI: What?

I don't know, I guess I had hoped that the note would lead to something more, for my readers and for me.

Ms. MacGruder?

Yes?

Can I talk to you? About the note?

What about it?

I think that maybe my father wrote it.

Oh honey, someone has already claimed that the note was written to them.

I'm really sorry.

Was the note addressed to "T"?

What did you say?

I said was the note addressed to "T"?

Let's talk inside.

Okay.

Tell me, why do you think that your father wrote this note?

He went on a business trip, and before he left, we got into a huge argument.

I felt just terrible about it, and I know that he would, too.

What's your name?

I'm Christine. Christine Everby.

If your name is Christine, why would he address the note to "T"?

That was a nickname.

All my life I used to tag along after my dad, so he started calling me Tagalong or Tag, sometimes just "T." I know that sounds so silly.

Can you tell me why you argued?

Yeah, it had to do with my adoption.

After my mom died, I just started thinking about my birth mother, and before he left for the airport, I asked him if he would help me find my real parents.

He said that he and my mom were my real parents in every way that mattered.

And I knew that that was true. I...

I didn't mean to hurt him. I was just...

Curious.

Yeah, curious. I just wanted...

I just wanted to meet my biological mother, you know, just once.

Seems perfectly natural to me.

My dad didn't really see it that way.

Then I guess I got a little mad.

And I guess I said some things, you know, mean things.

You know what?

In the end, he gave in to me. He always did.

He hated to see me unhappy.

He said that when he got back from his trip he'd help me look for my real parents.

And he left.

And I never got to say that I was sorry for all the awful things that I said.

You know what kills me? That look on his face.

I hate it that our life together ended that way.

This is a Bible that he gave me on my birthday.

He wrote inside it. Here.

Is it the same printing as was on the note?

It's the same.

It is?

He gave you this on your 16th birthday?

CHRISTINE: Yeah.

So you were born September 2nd, 1989?

Yeah.

Ms. MacGruder, are you all right?

Yes. I...

Ms. MacGruder, you're trembling. Can I... Can I help you?

No. It's just that...

Ms. MacGruder?

It was in a baggie. With cookie crumbs.

Christmas cookies!

I baked them myself.

Thank you.

Imagine what that note came through to get to you.

Just so that you could know

how much your father loved you.

Yeah. That's true, isn't it?

Listen.

There's going to be a man on television tonight who will claim that this note's his.

He's wrong. We both know that this was meant for you.

Thank you.

Oh, Christine?

Yeah?

If I call you just to see how you're doing, you know, check on you, would that be okay?

Yeah, that would be fine.

Thank you.

You're welcome.


Nora?

You look awful. What's happened?

I'll tell you later. Scrub the column that I filed.

What?

I'm writing a new one.

Hey, Peyton? I thought you left.

I'm back.

Oh, good. It'll save me from leaving you this.

The most amazing thing just happened to me.

I've got to rewrite my column.

How come?

I just met the real owner of the note.

A young girl.

So, it's not our boy Tanner?

No. He lied to me. I don't know why.

I'll give you twenty million reasons why.

What do you mean?

I talked to our business editor.

The inside story is Tanner's old man left everything to his brother, Peter.

So he was cut out of the will.

Both boys went to work for the company right out of college.

Tanner wasn't pulling his weight, so his brother bought him out.

Then apparently, Tanner has squandered all the dough that he was paid for his share, and Peter worked his tail off to build the company into what it is today.

Okay. But I still don't understand what Tanner had to gain by lying to me.

"All is forgiven. Dad."

It's exactly what he needed.

Tanner's already hired an attorney to contest his father's will.

And Truman Harris was probably more than happy to help him out.

What're you going to do about it?

Well, I'm going to call Tanner before it's too late.

I'll tell him about the girl I met, and the proof that she showed me that confirms the note was meant for her.

And then I'm going to offer him a second chance to do the right thing.

Good. Sounds good. Yeah? King?

Where is that?

"Lapinsky, "playing deep right field, wearing his blue uniform, "looked every bit like a great heron

"as the tie-breaking run rocketed from home plate

"toward the high fence behind him, its trajectory clear.

"A guaranteed season-shattering grand slam, until the gangly Lapinsky, "all arms and legs, rose, as if carried on the crest of a tidal surge.

"Higher and higher in the humid July air, floating beyond human capacity, "until with sublime grace, he snagged the ball and saved the day.

"I do not believe in divine intervention, or gods who toy with the lives of men.

"But that day, I did believe. That day, I witnessed a miracle!"

My Pulitzer piece.

Where'd you find it? When? I Googled you.

Four years ago. My first day on the job.

MacGruder, have you been crushin' on me?

Is it true what you wrote?

Do you believe in miracles?

Why?

I was pregnant when Gil died.

I fell into a deep depression. Total despair.

And I tried to end my own life.

And I nearly lost the baby.

After she was born, I couldn't care for her and I couldn't care for myself, so Children's Services took her.

And then several months later, my father convinced me to let them put her up for adoption, but if I had been normal, I never would have given up my baby.

But you weren't, were you? Normal.

No, not for a long time.

Did you ever try to find her? Your daughter?

No, I never looked for her.

Why?

I didn't have the right.

I tried to take her life when I attempted to take my own.

But now, because of this note, I believe that she's found me.

You mean the girl who...

Yes. Come on.

I know it sounds crazy, but there's evidence, and in my heart, I know, I know that's my daughter.

Did you tell her that you think you might be her mother?

No.

I was afraid that the truth about why I gave her up would be more painful for her than just not knowing.

I set out to offer somebody else a Christmas miracle, but I ended up with my own.

Listen to me.

You have kept the most private, intimate details of your life all to yourself for so many years.

It's gonna change now.

You're not alone, Peyton,

not anymore.

Not anymore.

Tell us, if you would, Mr. Walton, about your feelings when you first saw that note.

Well, I thought how great it would be if it turned out to be written by my father.

And then when you actually opened it and you saw that message inside.

(CLEARS THROAT)

I know this is difficult for you, so...

I wish I'd given my father a reason to forgive me, but, I hadn't.

The note

was not meant for me.

Wait a minute. Did I hear you right?

Did you just say that the note was not meant for you? The...

Turns out that the note was not meant for Tanner Walton, and so...

(TURNS TV OFF)

(SIGHS)

"Dear readers, I visited and spoke with my third and final prospect.

"He claimed the note. At the time, I had no reason to doubt him.

"Since then, I've met a young woman

"who persuaded me that the note had been written for her.

"She had convincing proof, but I didn't need her evidence to realize

"the note had at last come full circle.

"Through this journey, my friends, I've learned something else.

"The note itself is not the most important thing. The message is.

"For it contains the power of life and love."

(CELL PHONE RINGING)

MacGruder.

Do you have any idea how stupid you made me look?

Yes.

Who's the girl?

I promised her anonymity.

What the heck am I supposed to tell my audience?

Tell them what I said in my column.

The note, or who wrote it, isn't really that important.

It's the message that matters.

That's absurd.

Peyton?

Peyton?

PEYTON: Finally, I understand why the note was given to me.

Not because of what I could do for it, but because of what it could do for me.

Hey. Hey.

How the heck do you reply to a text message?

Oh. It's from your son.

Yeah.

That's great. What do you want me to say?

"How soon can you get here?"

Perfect.

That's great.

How about joining us?

I will do the cooking.

Now there's a tough offer to turn down, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to, this time.

Oh.


I am, however, available on New Year's Eve.

PEYTON: "This search has done something to my heart, tearing down old walls.

"Through the painful process, I learned something.

(DOORBELL RINGING)

"That the heart most in need of healing was my own.

"Throughout my search, I've shared the anguish of despairing people

"and I've finally learned to share my own pain."

Hi. Come on in. Hi.

Oh, wow,

it's so beautiful.

Gosh, I'm sorry. I should've brought you a gift.

You being here is the best Christmas gift I've ever had.

And if you don't mind, Christine, I'd like to tell you why.

Okay.

PEYTON: "The note, after all, was a message of forgiveness.

"And to this broken heart, it has not lost its power to restore."