"Closing the Circle"
Chapter 1 - The Tattler
If anyone should ever write my life's story.
For whatever reason there might be.
You'll be there between each line of pain and glory.
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me.
Gladys Knight & The Pips
Murphy Brown sat in her office nervously waiting for a delivery that she'd rather not get. In an attempt to take her mind off her worries she tried to think about her next story, but she could think of nothing but the impending disaster that was about to be laid in front of her. As she gnawed on her trusty no. 2 pencil she heard a knock at the door.
"Ms. Brown, I've got it." Murphy recognized the voice as that of Bob, the mail boy.
"Come in, Bob."
Bob walked in her office and handed her the 'fresh off the press' copy of the National Tattler.
"You didn't tell anyone about this, right?"
"Oh no, Ms. Brown."
"Fine then. Hold on and I'll get that ten bucks I promised."
Murphy started to go for her purse when her best friend and fellow investigative reporter, Frank Fontana, walked in. "So Murph, what do you want with the National Tattler? I thought you refused to read that fish wrap from now on."
Murphy stopped digging in her purse and turned to give Bob a look that would kill.
"Tell me Murph, they have something good on Brokaw in there. Am I right?"
"That's it Bob! No ten bucks for you. You can go now."
"But Ms. Brown, you promised..."
Murphy waved her hand in a gesture to let Bob know it was time for him to take his leave. And Bob did just that by slamming the door to Murphy's office, leaving without his money.
"Come on Murph, it's written all over your face. That's not why you had Bob get that for you?" Always the good reporter, Frank knew something was up.
"Go away Frank. I'm having a really bad day."
Frank grabbed the National Tattler out of Murphy's hand and instantly knew why she didn't want anyone to see it. The headline read "Murphy Brown Married to Frozen Tube".
"I have never been to a sperm bank. Well, there was that one time. You know." Murphy looked up at Frank with emotions rising. "The father of my child is not a tube...he is someone, well, I once loved."
"Once again The Tattler is hitting below the belt. First they say you've fallen off the wagon and now this." Frank's blood was boiling with anger.
"Not many people know I'm pregnant. I meant for it to be that way and I intend for it to stay that way."
Another knock rattled Murphy's door. The voice of FYI's executive producer was muffled as it came to Murphy's ears. "Murphy, I need to go over some things with you for this week's show. Can I come in?" Miles asked with hesitation, as he always did.
"Go away. It's not a good time."
"But we need to talk about..."
"Hi, you've reached the offices of Murphy Brown. Apparently you didn't understand her when she said she doesn't want to talk to you right now, leave a message after the tone... BEEEEEP."
Miles Silverberg turned to walk away but stopped when he saw that everyone in the bullpen was staring at him. Feeling all eyes on him, he turned and charged through her door like a bull. "Damn it Murphy! I am not stupid..." Miles stated with a vengeance. But he stopped when he saw how his words had affected Murphy.
Tears now streaming down her face, Murphy fell hard to her chair, holding her face in her hands. Frank and Miles looked at each other then at Murphy. They couldn't believe what they were seeing, that Murphy Brown, quite possibly the strongest woman they had ever known, was crying before them.
"I'm sorry Murphy. I didn't mean..." Miles said in a comforting voice.
Murphy dug her head in her hands, trying to hide her red eyes from Frank and Miles. "Don't worry about me Miles. It's just hormones and nothing more." After collecting herself she requested, "Close the door, will you?"
Murphy handed the copy of the Tattler to Miles and then reached for a tissue in her purse. "Read this. We have problems."
Miles took the Tattler. His eyes quickly skimmed the cover eventually becoming fixated on the headline. They did have problems.
"How did you find out about this?" Miles asked.
"I received an anonymous phone call about an hour ago. The voice on the other end simply said, 'Check the Tattler', then hung up."
"Strange." Frank replied.
"I couldn't swear to it but I'm pretty sure it was Connie Chung." Murphy blew her nose.
"How would Connie know?" Miles asked.
"I don't know and I don't even want to think about this now. If you happened to have forgotten I have a story to put together."
"But Murph, you have to deal with this sometime." Frank stressed.
"No I don't and I would appreciate it if you would leave now. I need to work on my story."
"All right, but if you need someone to talk to we will be right out there." Frank pointed to the bullpen as he reassured his friend.
"There will be no need for that because I'll be fine...thanks."
As Frank and Miles left they knew she was denying, and that wasn't healthy. They walked into the bullpen and noticed Corky and Jim sitting at the little round glass table. Corky was reading the latest edition of Redbook. Jim was sipping his coffee and tapping his pencil on the table.
"Oh, there you are. What were you all doing in there? What were you all talking about?" Corky pressed in her nosy way.
"Miles, I just wanted to remind you that I was here on time." Jim said without breaking away from his coffee.
"On time for what, Jim?"
"The story meeting! It is ten o'clock?"
Miles looked at his watch. It was five minutes after ten. That meant he had to go back in there and get Murphy, something he knew he didn't want to do.
Frank saw the unhappiness on Miles' face. "I'll go in there and get her." He motioned towards Murphy's office. "Five minutes tops." Frank turned around again and headed for Murphy's office.
Frank walked right in because he knew if he asked to come in, she would tell him to go away. "Murph, it is time for the..." Frank stopped when he saw Murphy on the phone.
"All right, Chung, I know you're there so you might as well pick up and deal with me now. I know you don't want a repeat performance of the last time you blatantly ignored me. Fine. Have it your way. But just remember that pizzas delivered to your house every hour on the hour equal no sleep for you…or Maury for that matter!" Murphy slammed down the phone and looked at Frank. "What? I know it was her."
"Come on, Murph, it's time for the story meeting."
"I don't feel like going," Murphy replied.
"Come on now, it will help you get this off your mind for a little while."
"I look like hell. Everyone will know something's up."
"You don't look like hell. You look... glowing." Frank instantly knew he had said the wrong thing.
"Glowing? Come on Frank? Just admit it, I look horrible. I hate when I cry, my eyes get all puffy."
"You know you're beautiful. Plus I know you have a killer story you want to pitch." Frank smiled.
Murphy returned the smile. "Come here Frank." Murphy reached her arms out and gave Frank a hug. "Thanks for being my best friend." She whispered in his ear.
"My pleasure, Murph." Frank couldn't believe this. His smile widened. "Come on, let's go."
"Okay, I'll be out there in a second. Let me try to at least look decent." Murphy motioned him to go and then reached for the makeup bag that was in her purse.
Frank walked out and then immediately walked back in. "Murph, your mother is here."
Murphy was reapplying her lipstick and then stopped even though she only had lipstick on the upper lip. "What? My mother? Are you sure?"
Frank walked over to Murphy's window and peaked out of one of the blinds. "Yeah, it's her all right, hat and all."
"Does she know I'm here? Why is she here? Did she say anything?" Murphy quickly finished applying lipstick to her bottom lip, threw it in her bag and joined Frank at the window.
"I don't know. Maybe she's here to see her only daughter who happens to be pregnant with her grandchild."
"But she doesn't know." Murphy blurted out the phrase without thinking.
"What do you mean, 'she doesn't know'?" Then it came to him. "Murph, are you telling me you haven't told her yet? She is your mother!" Frank was surprised. He thought Murphy would tell her mother before anyone.
"No, I haven't told her. It is hard, however old you are, to tell your mother that you are pregnant and have no intentions of getting married. I know she still pictures me in a flowing, white wedding gown and that just isn't me."
"Well, your mother doesn't think you're still a virgin, does she?"
"I'm 42 years old Frank! What do you think? And besides I think the night she walked in on me and Michael Reese in my room pretty much killed that fantasy dead."
"Well, you never know and that was way too much information!"
Murphy gave Frank one of those famous Murphy Brown looks and totally ignored his last statement. "No, no it's just not the right time. I can't do this now."
"It looks like you are going to have to because here she comes."
"Don't just stand there! Stall her! Tell her that...I'm doing an interview or something." Murphy nervously said.
"I don't want to. And besides, I'm not a good liar, Murph. All those years of Catholic school can really warp a person's ability to lie."
"Come on, Frank. Do this for me. Tell her to go to my house and then get her out of here so I can leave."
"Okay, okay, I'll do it. But you need to tell her today, promise me you will."
"All right, all right, I will...just do it. Go!"
Frank felt bad about what he was going to do. As he walked out of Murphy's office he grabbed some crumpled papers off the floor that she had thrown in some fit of rage. He might just need them for backup. He tried to just walk on by, but the presence of Avery Brown was so overwhelming that he had to look her way. And there she was, standing just outside of the elevator door. Jim, Corky and Miles were already talking to her. Frank reassured himself that he must do this for Murphy. It wouldn't be fair for Murphy to be pressured into telling her mother this way. And it also wouldn't be fair for Mrs. Brown to find out she was going to become a grandmother this way. He knew he was doing the right thing.
As their eyes met, Frank was still trying to come up with something to say to cover for his best friend, something that made sense, something that Frank Fontana wouldn't usually say.
Frank walked right up to Mrs. Brown and just blurted it out. "Murphy's at the gynecologist. How about lunch? Jim, Corky, Miles, aren't you ready for lunch? I hear there's a special on Phil's famous meatloaf today."
Avery gave Frank a look and he knew that the gig was up. "Mr. Fontana, is it? My daughter is in her office, is she not?"
"Ah, no. No she isn't. I think it would be nice if you would join us for lunch Mrs. Brown." Frank smiled a dopey smile and started banging on the down button of the elevator.
"It's Ten a.m. Mr. Fontana."
"I just thought you would like something to eat after your flight. Okay, brunch then. Doesn't that sound like a good idea? Yeah, I think it's a good idea."
"Yes, well you also thought that shirt with those shoes was a good idea. If she isn't here then I wish to go directly to her house."
"I can take you there now..." Frank stopped after considering what he had just offered. Yes, this would definitely be the longest car ride of his life.
"But Murphy was in her office just a minute ago." Miles chimed in.
Frank turned to give him a look and then returned to banging on the down button. He just wanted to get out of there. "Darn thing, just doesn't get here fast enough."
Avery Brown turned around, dropped her suitcase, and headed directly for Murphy's office. "I'm going to leave her a short note explaining where I can be found."
Frank's eyes almost left the sockets as he saw Avery walking away from him. He turned quickly and caught a hold of her arm. "But Mrs. Brown..."
She stopped him in mid-sentence and looked down at his hand on her arm. "I would appreciate it if you would remove your hand from my arm, Mr. Fontana. I must warn you, I have studied the martial arts."
Frank quickly removed his grip. "Yes, ma'am. I'm sorry. What I was trying to say was Murphy isn't going to be back today..."
"Yes she will, Frank." Corky said. "Don't you remember she has that telephone interview with..."
Frank turned to Corky and motioned for her to stop. She finally did.
"One question Mr. Fontana..."
"Please call me Frank, Mrs. Brown."
"And you may call me...Mrs. Brown...I get the distinct feeling that my daughter is right over there in her office and she doesn't want to see me. Is this true...Mr. Fontana?" She asked that question in a way only Avery Brown could.
"Um, ah...NO! I mean no. She is really at the doctor and she will really be home soon, so we better get going."
Miles, Jim, and Corky just nodded their heads in agreement to Frank's statement because the situation warranted them to do so.
"Is there anything the matter?" Avery asked with some concern.
"Well, I am having some trouble with a trick knee, other than that...Ah, you mean Murphy. No. Why do you ask?"
"I only ask because my daughter is at the doctor, as you say, in the middle of a workday. And Mr. Fontana, I'll be frank, you are acting peculiar but then again you always act that way."
"I think it's a check up that's all, but what do I know about these women things. I mean it's not like she's pregna..." Frank stopped himself with out finishing that word.
DING... the familiar sound of the elevator. "Finally!" Frank was relieved to hear that beautiful noise. "Come on, Mrs. Brown. I'll get your bag."
"Well, I wasn't going to carry it."
Frank and Avery entered the elevator, and Frank blew out a huge breath. Avery turned and faced the bullpen. "So long everyone. I'd say it has been an experience, but it hasn't."
And with that, they were gone.
Miles, Jim, and Corky stood there still nodding their heads and waving. As they turned to return to their meeting, they saw Murphy dart out of her office and head for the stairwell.
"So you were in there!" Corky scolded. "Shame on you Murphy!"
"Let me go! I have to beat them home!" Murphy pushed her way past Miles, Jim and Corky.
"That was wrong to have Frank lie for you, and to your mother." Jim said.
"Jim, really, I have to go. I don't have time for this!"
"Fine, Murphy, be that way. But I have to warn you, I'm going to tell your mother!" Miles said.
Murphy totally ignored Miles' last statement and stormed out of the bullpen as she headed for the stairwell.
Miles, Jim and Corky shared a look of confusion. They walked over to the little glass table and sat back down. "What just happened here?" Jim asked his colleagues.
"I don't know and I don't care." Corky responded with arms now folded across her body.
Miles stood up and pounded his fist on the table, "And I'll do it too! Don't test me Murphy Brown!"