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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Did I Have A Stroke?

December 29, 2013

Sure, it’s funny now, but when it happened I was in a panic and wondering how I was going to deal with such a dramatic change in my life, a change that would undoubtedly effect everything I cared about. I also had to think about my wife and how this dreadful turn of events might affect our marriage.

    

It happened a week before Christmas, the night before the Holiday Banquet Mrs. C. organizes for the police department and its volunteers. This is a sizable event and Mrs. C. puts months of work into making as festive an occasion as possible. Unfortunately, snow was forecast for the next day. Portlanders are not accustomed to driving on snow or ice and things grind to a halt after only a light dusting. Mrs. C. was fretting about the weather and the possibility of a low turnout, and suffering an upset stomach after we went to bed.

    

She got up at one point and, in the dark, made for the bathroom. I heard her rummaging around for something.

    

“What are you looking for?” I asked groggily.

    

“I thought we had some Tagamet.”

    

“We do. There’s some in my nightstand. Go ahead and turn on the light so you can find it.”

    

But she didn’t turn on the light. I heard her prowling through the drawer, dumping things on my nightstand and grumbling that I needed to clean and organize the drawer. In true husbandly fashion I tuned her out, rolled away from the light and went back to sleep.

    

I woke at around two a.m., grabbed my glasses from the nightstand and made a pit stop in the bathroom, which I’ve trained myself to do without waking up. I don’t normally grab my glasses just to pee but I’d decided to walk to the front of the house to see if the street was buried in snow.

    

I opened the blind, gazed down on our street and immediately began panicking, but not because of heavy snow since not a single flake was visible. My heart was pumping madly in my chest because the street was completely distorted. The glow from street lamps glowed like the swirling brushstrokes in a Van Gogh painting. Perspective was surreal. I rubbed my eyes beneath my specs and concentrated on what I was seeing. I blinked repeatedly to clear my vision, to no avail.

    

Stumbling back to bed, I climbed between the sheets and lay there worrying I’d had a vision-impairing stroke. Mrs. C. startled me by saying, “Why aren’t you asleep?”

    

I didn’t want to confess I couldn’t see anymore but we’d been married too long for me to think I could keep a secret from her. “I’m having trouble with my vision,” I admitted.

    

She bolted up in bed and snapped on her nightstand lamp. “What are you talking about?” she asked, a note of worry in her voice.

    

I explained what had happened, and handed her the glasses.

    

She put them on. “Well, if you’ve had a stroke, then so have I.  I can’t see with these either.” She studied the glasses under the light…and burst out laughing. “These aren’t your regular glasses, These are the 3-D ones you insisted on keeping when we went to see Gravity a few weeks ago.”

    

Relief flooded over me. I considered blaming her for my panic since she’d pulled them out of my nightstand looking for the Tagamet, but I held my tongue. She clicked off her light and burrowed beneath the covers with her back to me.

    

I waited until she was about to drift off before saying, “Did I mention there’s no snow outside?”

 

 

 

 

        

 



Comments

25 Comments
I'm glad this story had a happy, even humorous ending. Your title had me worried for a minute.
By: Scott Cody Park on December 29, 2013
And you were saving these glasses because?????
By: Tabor on December 29, 2013
All I thought as I read this is if it is a two parter I'm cancelling my subscription! You had me worried! Very funny! I'd ask why about the glasses as well, except we have several pairs in the Cranky home.
By: Cranky on December 29, 2013
A stroke is no laughing matter, but your story in the end is worthy of 2 belly laughs. http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/WarningSigns/Stroke-Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms_UCM_308528_SubHomePage.jsp#
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 29, 2013
oh, that IS funny - finally. had me very worried - as i'm certain you were!
By: TexWisGirl on December 29, 2013
oh gawds....thanks so much for the belly laugh. I haven't laughed like this in a very long time. Thanks. But I must confess I would have been scared as well.
By: Oma Linda on December 29, 2013
HAR!!!!! I'm glad this had a humorous outcome... Happy New Year... ~shoes~
By: redshoes51 on December 29, 2013
I thought you had put on Mrs. C's glasses!!
By: fishducky on December 29, 2013
oh hahahah your story made me laugh and laugh since my sweetie saves EVERYTHING..."just in case"... We had oodles of 3-D glasses before we moved and he actually wanted to pack them up and move them 350 miles. I tossed them when he wasn't looking! Thank goodness you just grabbed the wrong glasses-at first I thought "Uh oh" when I read the title! Happy New Year!
By: Kathe W. on December 29, 2013
Doesn't take much to alarm us old folks, does it ... fortunately, most of the time, it's a false alarm.
By: tom sightings on December 29, 2013
It is, I suppose, ironic that I misread a sentence early on. Should have put on my glasses. I THOUGHT you said Mrs. C. APOLOGIZES for the police department and volunteers. So I imagined you having an episode at the banquet, and being treated by the police department and rescue squad, then finding out it was just a minor ailment.
By: Val on December 29, 2013
We have some of these 3D glasses tucked away somewhere, too! Gravity was a great movie, but we didn't see it in 3D. Glad your story had a funny ending, not the scary one. Happy New Year!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 29, 2013
That is one hysterical story. Thankfully you didn't have a stroke but your wife must have thought you were a nut! Lol
By: Bouncin Barb on December 29, 2013
Funny! And it was all Mrs C's fault! I guess the real relief was no stroke.
By: red on December 29, 2013
omg Stephen. thank goodness for the happy ending. no snow either. :) you worried me for a minute. i went blind in the middle of the night once. long and true story. :)
By: Fran on December 29, 2013
I think you have to be a guy to truly fathom the need to have as many pairs of 3D glasses in the house as possible. I'm not exactly sure what that reason is, but I do have the glasses.
By: Ken on December 29, 2013
Ack.. funny ending and what a relief. I know how scary that thought is. It's what I thought was happening to me the very first time I had a pre-migraine aura. Even with the headache, it never clicked in as to what it was.. until it happened a second time a few days later.
By: Hilary on December 29, 2013
Thank heavens! My heart was in my throat as I read of your "drama." Love the way Mrs. C brought the situation back to reality.
By: Tom Cochrun on December 29, 2013
Phew, you had me worried but I guess not nearly as much as you were. So glad that moment of terror had such a happy ending.
By: Akansas Patti on December 30, 2013
It's amazing what we keep in the 'man-drawer!' I'm still smiling about the {happy) ending.
By: Bryan Jones on December 30, 2013
How very funny! Glad you shared this one.
By: mimi on December 30, 2013
If you ever actually really and truly think you've had a stroke, please call 911 right away. Unless you're incapacitated. Then you can beg Mrs. C to call and the last thing you'll hear is her laughter. Die, mutant freak of nature. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 30, 2013
What a wise man you are that you didn't throw out a "it's your fault" in the middle of the night. Glad it wasn't anything serious!!!
By: Cheryl P. on December 30, 2013
Now that was a great tale, I had a tear in my eye with laughter!
By: John on December 31, 2013
Totally something I would do. Did I ever tell you about the time I put my reading glasses on & couldn't see a thing? I was so stressed because the glasses weren't that old. Turns out a lens had fallen out in my purse & I didn't even notice when I put them on. Ha!
By: the Bug on January 2, 2014

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