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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Garbage Disaster

December 8, 2013

Friday we woke to snow here in Portland. The view from our window revealed a wondrous world of white. The garbage can Mrs. C. had dragged down our long driveway to the curb the night before was shrouded beneath a layer of snow. I decided to forgo my early morning swim at our local public pool. Around eight a.m. I was enjoying a hot cup of coffee and admiring our partially decorated artificial tree when I heard the grinding gears of the garbage truck growing louder as it headed our way.

    

A thought occurred to me. “Did you put out the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving?” I asked Mrs. Chatterbox.

    

Friday is garbage pick-up at our house and cans need to be out by six a.m. I usually put ours out on my way to the pool but we hadn’t finished with the turkey on Thanksgiving or even the day after. When we finally finished with it, I wrapped and placed the carcass in the freezer to prevent it from smelling up the garage where we store our garbage can—unnecessary since the garage was as cold as the freezer. For no logical reason, it was suddenly crucial that our carcass go out that day instead of hibernating comfortably in our freezer another week.

    

“No I didn’t put it out,” she said, her tone stiff with resentment over the fact that I’d forgotten to put the can out in the first place, leaving it for her to do. This meant that carcass was still downstairs in the freezer, taking up valuable space.

    

Every Thanksgiving my mother pulls out her Depression trump card by telling us her generation never wasted anything, and turkey carcasses make fine soup. Every year I tell her I’d be glad to drive it over to her and she can make the damn soup. She always declines.

   

I walked over to the window and stared down at our frozen driveway. The garbage truck was three houses away. I decided there was time to redeem myself for failing to put out the can. I set down my coffee, dashed downstairs without bothering to dress and plucked that wrapped carcass from the freezer. When I pushed the button to open our garage door a blast of arctic air charged up my robe and turned my niblets into Eskimo pies.

    

Our driveway slopes downward and my slippers found little traction on the ice. I inched towards the curb but slipped and went down fast, my robe flying up and exposing parts of me best left covered. I collided with our garbage can. As I sat there with a frozen turkey carcass clenched in my hands, my butt stinging as contact with the frozen pavement turned my behind into a popsicle, I realized I was stuck. My briefs had frozen to the pavement.

    

That’s how the garbage man found me when he arrived at our driveway. Instead of offering me a hand he just glanced at the wrapped package I was extending like Oliver Twist holding up his bowl for more gruel. “What ya got there?” he asked.

    

“A turkey carcass,” I said, wishing I were back upstairs, sipping my hot coffee and admiring my unfinished Christmas tree.

    

“Sorry,” he said. “I don’t pick up garbage. I’m the recycle truck; paper, cardboard, bottles and crushed cans.”

    

When he’d driven away I squirmed about, eventually tearing myself free from winter’s icy grip.  A heart-shaped piece of my underpants remained glued to the driveway.

    

At least my moment of utter humiliation wasn’t witnessed by anyone other than the recycle dude. Or so I thought until I looked up at our window and saw Mrs. Chatterbox laughing her ass off.     

    





Comments

27 Comments
she got her due... :)
By: TexWisGirl on December 8, 2013
Ha ha, I'd be laughing my arse off too. So you don't know which week is rubbish week and which one is recycling? We even have different bins for each one, and food goes in it's own one too. Now I'm gonna get a rosette from the smug box. :D
By: LL COOL JOE on December 8, 2013
That's an instant classic.
By: PT Dilloway on December 8, 2013
now that is a picture painted vividly by your words.....hehehehehe
By: Oma Linda on December 8, 2013
That mental image will be with me FOREVER!!
By: fishduckyf on December 8, 2013
What a lovely mental image!
By: David Walston on December 8, 2013
You could have broken your coccyx. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 8, 2013
You should have told him, "It makes fine soup." Like you were giving him an early Christmas bonus.
By: Val on December 8, 2013
I'd love to leave a comment, but I'm way too busy heaving with laughter...
By: Pixel Peeper on December 8, 2013
now I am laughin' my ass off! HOpe other than your feelings and dignity nothing was hurt!! Have a great Sunday!
By: Kathe W. on December 8, 2013
I'm sure that will be a treasured family story for years to come.
By: red on December 8, 2013
Well, i was right. The kid story book is going to need a sequel! And you don't make soup with that carcass, you make gumbo! If i ever get up to Portland, i'll show you how.
By: mimi on December 8, 2013
poor Stephen, that was quite an experience. and you did try to make amends. try to stay warm and dry :)
By: Fran on December 8, 2013
I'm sorry you fell but I am laughing my ass off now. I can never look at an Eskimo Pie the same way again..lol
By: Bouncin Barb on December 8, 2013
Woo, this was a great laugh! I'm sorry to say, but I'm so glad Mrs. C had a front row seat to the great event!
By: Kianwi on December 8, 2013
Very funny, and it reminds me of my turkey carcass tradition...perhaps a future post...thx.
By: Cranky on December 8, 2013
Ouch....Falling on one's pride is painful. BTW I've temporarily invaded your state (Gold Beach). I'm having problems with my neighbor and his ray guns again.
By: joe on December 8, 2013
I love the story and the comments, especially Val's :)
By: jenny_o on December 8, 2013
She put the whole thing on Youtube, don't you know, and it's gone viral.
By: Snowbrush on December 8, 2013
Bwahahahahaha!!
By: Lexa Cain on December 8, 2013
In the 'Couv the garbage people came in the afternoon it was horrible outside, we had gone to fetch some food necessities..I don't put my stuff out until the morning, good for that, my hubs got really ill Friday night late a run to Kaiser/Sunnyside and waiting for 3 hours and IV's helped out,then on Saturday back for more tests, my hubs slept all day sat. and sunday, it is sunday late and I am exhausted, our cats won't even go out a tiny bit, we have one who thinks he will but he runs to a tree does his business and runs like you know what to get in the house..Suppose to be in the single digits all week, grrrrr...like in winter 1972, omgoodness. I dislike these conditons because it is humid here, now in Colorado where we came from it was dry..people don't get it,but there is no moisture there at all, happy holidays, love your blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
By: mjs on December 8, 2013
How embarrassing! Slippers, dressing gown and icy snow are not a great combination. I'm struck by the fact the garbage man didn't help you up - perhaps you would have to be made of cardboard to fit with his job description?
By: Bryan Jones on December 9, 2013
I'm laughing my ass off, too. Wish there were video of YOUR ass frozen solid to the driveway!
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 10, 2013
Slapstick humour at its finest!
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 10, 2013
what a cracking tale, humor is at its best when we level it at ourselves!
By: John on December 11, 2013
The very thought of going from cozy warm to arctic blasts and the indignity of falling as well...I am feeling bad for you. You have some seriously cruel (OK maybe a tad overstating that) commenters. Does Mrs. Chatterbox feel vindicated? She better hope that you never witness her falling on her bum as paybacks are hell. Would you laugh or not?
By: Cheryl P. on December 11, 2013
That is HILARIOUS! And totally something that would happen to me :)
By: The Bug on December 17, 2013

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