Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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A Flushable Pet: Conclusion

November 25, 2013

 


If you missed Part I check it out (here).

    

 

Standing as tall as I could, I told my mother that if Yama had to go, then so would I. There might have been a twitch of amusement on her face; she often referred to me as Mr. Softie yet here I was standing up to her. Yama was permitted to stay provided she never left my room, her cage was kept immaculate, her water bottle filled and I did chores to pay for her food.

    

I played with Yama every day, letting her out of her cage to explore the wonderful sights and smells of my room. But it was inevitable that worlds would collide. One day Yama squeezed through my partially closed bedroom door. She and my mother confronted each other in the windswept barrenness of the hallway outside my bedroom.

    

I saw the encounter from the far end of the hallway. Yama rose on her haunches and studied my mother, much as Perseus must have gazed at the Kraken. My mother pointed a finger down at Yama and said in terms clear enough for a rat, “Get back in your cage this instant or there will be HELL to pay!” Hell was paid frequently at our house.

    

Yama let out a terrified sqeeeek, dashed back into my room as fast as her tiny little legs could carry her and leapt into the safety of her cage. Their worlds never again collided.

      

Another time a cousin I disliked was visiting with his family. He insisted on playing with Yama, but he played roughly with my things and frequently broke them. I didn’t want him squeezing Yama to death.

      

He went straight to my mother and complained. “Stephen won’t let me play with his rat!”

      

“Let your cousin play with that darn rat!” she ordered.

      

I had no choice but to obey. My cousin gloated while we walked back to my room. We sat on the floor Indian-style and I opened the cage. Yama hopped out and paused in the small arena formed by our legs. She studied my cousin for a minute, then looked at me, and went back to studying him. Then, like a furry heat-seeking missile she launched herself up his pant leg and chomped down on his niblets. He shrieked, jumped to his feet and yanked down his pants. It was only a nip, but he carried on like he’d been assured a permanent place in the Vienna Boys Choir. Yama scurried back into her cage. My mother and aunt arrived to see what the commotion was about.

      

“The damn thing bit me on the nard sack!” my cousin blubbered.

      

I was relieved when Mom said, “Then you’d better leave it alone.”

      

Yama lived in a cage at the foot of my bed for three and a half years, a long time I’m told for a rat. The Beatles certainly enriched my life, but when I hear Paul McCartney sing Yesterday it’s Yama I think about. We buried her in the backyard in a cardboard casket made from a round Quaker oats carton. Many from the neighborhood were present when she was lowered into the ground.

      

Including my mother.

 

 

 



Comments

26 Comments
Damn it Stephen, you always tell the best tales of childhood and make me cry. I will now think of Yama everytime I hear Yesterday too. Good story. Oma Linda
By: Oma Linda on November 25, 2013
Great memory for you. Of Yama as well as the way your mom understood you and worked with you. My mind is now softer for a pet rat too. Never could see that before.
By: CiCi on November 25, 2013
Animals just know! Didn't everyone have a cousin or a "Mom's friends kid" who played with your shit and accidentally broke it? Good rat!
By: Cranky on November 25, 2013
Hell was always being paid at my home also. The Devil must be a millionaire by now.
By: David Walston on November 25, 2013
LOVED THIS STORY!! I've always wondered, if there's Hell to pay, will the Devil send a bill--& does he accept credit cards?
By: fishducky on November 25, 2013
awww. she sounded like a smart pet. :)
By: TexWisGirl on November 25, 2013
Yama had it darn good and got a proper burial. Good ending!!
By: Tabor on November 25, 2013
awww Yama had a wonderful life with you! Great story!
By: Kathe W. on November 25, 2013
Another fine tale/tail.
By: Hilar on November 25, 2013
I LOVED this- what a great story!
By: Shelly on November 25, 2013
Lovely story! i hope it gets published.
By: Jenny Woolf on November 25, 2013
I love it even though I hate rodents. That was one smart rat. I have a favor to ask of you. Will you please send a birthday card for me to pass on to my (former) mother-in-law? Details are in my post today. Love, Janie P.S. If I've already asked you, please forgive me. I'm not getting the number of volunteers I thought I would.
By: Janie Junebug on November 25, 2013
Well, i've heard rats are brilliantly smart and now i believe it! Great story.
By: mimi on November 25, 2013
Yama had a good sense about her. She quickly realized her place when she met your mother and again when she met your evil cousin. :)
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 25, 2013
Gotta give Yama credit. She could pick her battles. Mom---retreat was best. Cousin-- she saw her enemy and let him have it. I did give a little cheer. Cute, sweet and satisfying story.
By: Akansas Patti on November 25, 2013
Aww, Stephen, that's the most touching ending to a story ever. Pets are wonderful. I'm glad you and Yama each gave the other happy moments and great memories. (And that your nasty cousin got bitten on his "nard sack." You guys are so funny with your euphemisms! But I guess us girls have some funny ones, too...)
By: Lexa Cain on November 25, 2013
All I can say is, your mother is a saint.
By: tom sightings on November 25, 2013
Wow! What a great story. Pets, regardless of the species, can be family. :)
By: on November 25, 2013
At least you didn't beg for a pet rat for Christmas, and have to hear, "A pet rat? It'll bite your nard sack, kid!"
By: Val on November 25, 2013
Like you, I realize pets can be a big part of family, regardless of their species. Great story!
By: Scott Cody Park on November 25, 2013
A great story all the more so for the humor!
By: John on November 26, 2013
What a great memory of being a kid. Sounds like you had a bond with Yama and I love what he did to your cousin. Taught him not to be rough ever again I bet! Great story.
By: Bouncin Barb on November 26, 2013
I LOVE this story... especially the part where astute Yama bites your idiot cousin on his "nard sack." So glad your mother didn't consider rates flushable.
By: Mitchell is Moving on November 26, 2013
I love this story, and I love your way with words! LOL at the "windswept barrenness of the hallway." I hope it will get published.
By: Pixel Peeper on November 26, 2013
Poor Yama, may she rest in peace. Typically, I don't care much for rodents, but the fact that Yama was such a good companion to you is endearing. Your mother is a force to be reckoned with...even a rat knew not to mess with her. Did your cousin turn out OK?...he sounds like he was a little shit in his youth.
By: Cheryl P. on November 26, 2013
Tonight I'll drink to Yama. Great story, well told.
By: Bryan Jones on November 27, 2013

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