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 True Story of Kindred Spirits

May 3, 2017

 

A fellow blogger recently asked if anyone has had a psychic experience, reminding me of this reworked post from 2012.

 

**************

 

In 2002 when we bought our house it was nearly a hundred years old. We’d only lived in it a week or two, not long enough to learn about the neighborhood or meet our neighbors. We’d arrived in the fall and the golden leaves on the old maple trees lining the street were falling with urgency.

           

One evening we were bundled up for the brisk walk home after dining at a popular neighborhood bistro when we rounded a corner and approached our house. I was so busy taking in the autumn colors and crisp fall air that I failed to notice Mrs. Chatterbox’s hand dropping from mine. She’d stopped on the sidewalk, frozen like a statue. Color had drained from her face and she was staring at our house.

           

“Are you alright?” I asked, wondering if the rich dinner we’d just enjoyed was causing a problem.

           

“I’m fine,” she said, not sounding fine at all. “I thought I saw something…on our front porch.”

           

We were close enough to our house for me to clearly see there was nothing unusual on our front porch. “What did you see?”

           

A breeze had picked up and she pulled the collar of her coat tight. “It wasn’t so much that I saw something; it was more of a feeling.” She shrugged. “I feel foolish so let’s just forget about it.”

           

And I did forget about it, until several weeks later when we were returning home with a vintage lamp from one of the antique stores. Mrs. C stopped at the picket fence in front of out house and stared at the porch.

    

“What is it?” I asked. I don’t believe in psychic occurrences but Mrs. C. is more open to such things than I am. “Is it similar to what you saw last time?”

           

She nodded, but this time she looked neither startled nor afraid. “It’s a feeling I’ve had since we moved here. At first it frightened me, but not anymore. I sense many presences surrounding our house, often concentrated on the front porch.”

           

Had we purchased a home that was haunted, Portland’s own Amityville House?  “But you say you don’t feel threatened by them?”

           

“Not at all. In fact, it’s a nice feeling, comforting.”

           

Our neighbors weren’t able to provide much information about the house. The McDonalds to our right were close-lipped and kept to themselves, only coming outside to refill their backyard bird feeder. They were resistant to my charm. When questioned about our house they told me to ask Jimmy, the owner of the property on our left. Unfortunately, we’d never seen Jimmy. We’d never even seen a light burning in his house.

           

One day I was repairing the front steps while Mrs. C. raked giant maple leaves. From the corner of my eye I saw a white-haired man climb the steps next door and retrieve mail from the overflowing mailbox. I yelled out, “You must be Jimmy.”

           

He nodded, climbed down the steps and came over to our front yard. He jammed his mail under his arm and extended his free hand. “Yep, I’m Jimmy.”

           

After Mrs. C. and I introduced ourselves I said, “The McDonalds tell us you’ve lived here a long time.”

           

Jimmy glanced at the faded yellow house where he’d fetched his mail. “I was born in this house, lived here until I was shipped off to Korea in ’51. My folks called this house home until a few years ago but both have since passed. I don’t spend much time here anymore but haven’t gotten around to selling the place.”

           

“You’ve probably seen a lot of neighbors come and go.”

           

“Yep.”

           

“Can you tell us anything about our place?”

           

Jimmy rubbed his unshaven cheeks. “Let me think.” A moment later he started to shake his head, but stopped. “Wait, I do recall something interesting. I remember coming home from Korea and seeing all these pretty young women sitting on the porch and front steps. It looked like a piece of heaven, pretty exciting for a guy who had been in the Army too long. But these women all had babies with them. While I was gone the city rented your house and turned it into a home for unwed mothers. Your place had more babies in it than a hospital nursery.”

           

It was a pleasant thought—our home a sanctuary for young mothers with nowhere else to go. The wind rustling in the iron branches transformed into the cheerful sound of bells over water, the timeless joy of giggling and cooing.

           

Jimmy waved goodbye and returned to his house.

           

My wife’s eyes widened as she refocused her attention on our house. She was smiling, an enigmatic expression I hadn’t seen in years. It reminded me of a day thirty-two years earlier when she told me she was pregnant.

           

I felt the arms of this place encircling me, like a lost child returning to a familiar embrace. Mrs. Chatterbox and I were among the many who had come here searching for a home. I couldn’t help but wonder how many would come after us.

 

What about you? Have you ever had a psychic experience?

 

 

Note: The photograph shows the house we lived in from 2002-2008.

 

 

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Comments

21 Comments
What a great story Stephen and comforting too knowing that love is timeless!
By: John Gibson on May 3, 2017
Good to know it wasn't a threatening presence and the house had been used for a good cause.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on May 3, 2017
Quite a few times I've had deja vu where I think I've previously had a dream about something happening at the moment. Makes me wish I would dream about some lottery numbers.
By: PT Dilloway on May 3, 2017
Fun story! I've not had any experiences, but my husband had a good one.... in an old cabin in the woods, no less!
By: Kelly on May 3, 2017
wow- great story and a sweet one too!
By: Kathe W. on May 3, 2017
Not a psychic experience, but an out of body one: I hosted a yoga class in our garage at the beach. I didnât want to be there because my dad was in a coma & dying in the hospital, about an hour & a half away. I wanted to be able to get to the hospital quickly. Bud said I needed the mental relaxation yoga would bring & convinced me to go. After the exercises, our instructor would have us clear our minds & totally relax. I swear I had an out of body experience. I found myself in his hospital room. He sat up & VERY sternly said, âWhat the hell are you doing here? You need to be at yogaâyou worry too much. Iâll be fine!â I learned later that that was about the time he died.
By: fishducky on May 3, 2017
It sounds like the house was full of love. Some places are.
By: messymimi on May 3, 2017
What a sweet, comforting story. I am a halfways believer, just never had an experience. There is still time I guess--I hope I do.
By: Arkansas Patti on May 3, 2017
Fascinating story. Instead of ghastly ghosts you got mothers and babies! :-) Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on May 3, 2017
Yes. I saw a headless man in my basement. I was scared, but didn't feel threatened. I hear footsteps and doors closing, and have occasional blinking lights in my house, which my husband built himself back in 1998. We're the only people who've ever lived here. We've both felt somebody poke us or call our name while sleeping.
By: Val on May 3, 2017
This is a cool story and so glad you were able to talk with Jimmy. The way the home looks reminds me a little of my home and yes....I have heard things in my home but never saw anything. Love the story
By: Birgit on May 3, 2017
My immediate response was to say I've never had a psychic experience, but then I remembered something that happened when I was a teenager. I was in a competition and saw what was going to occur in a dream I had the night before. It's never happened again. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on May 3, 2017
No, sorry, no psychic experiences for me, but I certainly enjoyed Mrs. C's. :)
By: scott park on May 3, 2017
I've never had such an experience; sometimes I wonder if it's because I'm so skeptical. But I love reading about them, hoping, I suppose, to be proven wrong!
By: jenny_o on May 3, 2017
I have had experiences like that, with people who died and whose renewed presence was comforting. Very cool story. I've had dreams like Janie's, too, wherein I see something out of the ordinary that I unexpectedly see the next day...the world, brain, energy, spirits, work/s in wonderous ways.
By: Robyn Engel on May 3, 2017
So what did Mrs Chatterbox see? Mums holding babies or something else?
By: LL Cool Joe on May 4, 2017
None that I can think of, but I love that old house. Owned one similar a few year back...I spent a lot of time on the front porch.
By: cranky on May 4, 2017
We moved into our house in 1977. It wasn't too long before I started seeing a cat run up the stairs. No one else saw it. Through the years, I have seen the cat until one day it appeared to run right into a wall and disappear. Now that was something to see, but everyone in my family thought I was a little nuts. Then a few years ago I was standing in our kitchen talking to my husband who was standing in the doorway between our kitchen and dining room when I saw a black haired young man in a white shirt and black slacks right behind my husband. He looked at me and suddenly backed up like he wasn't supposed to be there. I told my husband, "There was a man behind you." Of course he wasn't there when he looked. The young man reminded of an Amish man and he didn't scare me at all. If fact, he looked a little startled that he was there. I have always felt a presence in our house, but never one that scared me. If I hear a floor creak or feel something behind me I just say, "hello," and go on with my business.
By: Kate on May 4, 2017
Wow. What a cool story. Always a delight coming to your blog, Stephen. And I have had quite a few experiences especially after my mother passed away. Thinking about it still gives me goosebumps. Definitely made me believe that there's is something else out there after we move on from here. Take care.
By: Mr. Shife on May 4, 2017
Wow... some of your readers and Mrs. C have been touched in various ways with comforting feelings. The closest feeling I've had is the presence of my maternal grandmother in the weeks following her passing.
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 6, 2017
Glad it wasn't a scary ghost experience, but rather a pleasant feeling! I had a dream once that one of my co-workers had a car accident. The next morning she called me at work and said she was going to come in late, she had crashed her car the day before. It really freaked me out, and I never told her about it.
By: Pixel Peeper on May 6, 2017

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