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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Karma

October 11, 2013

Not all countries are blessed with an abundance of conveniently located restaurants. On a recent trip to India our tour bus drove many miles through desolate territories before stopping at roadside eateries deemed acceptable by our guide. At one such stop on our way to ride camels in the Great Thar desert Mrs. Chatterbox had an interesting conversation with the only member of our group whom she didn’t like, highly unusual for a woman who generally enjoys everyone.

    

The restaurant was dusty and swarming with flies when we entered. The menu was all in Hindi but I managed to order chicken cutlets while Mrs. C. stuck with her tried and true favorite—French fries. By this point in our trip she’d had enough curry and chili to last a lifetime. While our food was being prepared I excused myself to find a restroom, always an adventure in India. Once I’d found the facility I had to open several stall doors before finding a fixture I recognized, a western-style toilet instead of a six inch porcelain circle on the ground. After getting down to business I noticed a creature eying me from the back of the stall door, a black foot long lizard with a bright pink tongue darting in and out of its mouth.

    

It stared at me but didn’t move, not even when I finished and swung the door open to leave. So far so good.

    

When I returned to the table Mrs. C. was engaged in a conversation with an Australian member of our tour. It has been our experience that Australians are charming, outgoing people and generally fun to socialize with, but this particular fellow had been gruff and dismissive on the few occasions I’d attempted to engage him in conversation. Now, in a loud and condescending tone he was challenging Mrs. C. to find out if she knew the capital of Australia. Mrs. C., always the lady, politely admitted she wasn’t sure but guessed it might be Sydney.

    

The man scoffed at her, made an uncomplimentary comment about the American educational system and proclaimed it was Canberra. Like my wife, I had no idea this was Australia’s capital. Mrs. C. took it all in stride but his snarky attitude riled me.

    

Our food arrived and Mrs. C. was pleased with her French fries, but something green oozed from one of my cutlets when I stabbed it with a fork. I pushed the plate aside and pinched a few of my wife’s fries. The irksome Australian who’d been so discourteous said, “You going to eat that? It’s a crime to waste food.”

    

I was still miffed over his rudeness but pushed the plate in his direction, saying, “Help yourself.”

    

He gobbled down the chicken cutlets, wiped his mouth on the back of his hand and wandered off to inspect souvenirs near the entrance.

    

His insolence wasn’t a problem over the next few days. In fact, we barely saw him. Later that evening he began retching uncontrollably and leaking from the other end like the Exxon Valdez. I’d been wise to pass on the cutlets.

    

India truly is the land of karma.

 

    

 

 

 



Comments

28 Comments
I'm hoping he connected the two events and made efforts to tone down his arrogance. You could have filled him in on how Karma is actually a capital in India...
By: Shelly on October 11, 2013
If I ever go to India I guess I'll have to make sure to bring my own food, water, and toilet. I did somehow know Canberra is the capital of Australia. It's also the name of an old British bomber referenced a few times in old James Bond novels.
By: PT Dilloway on October 11, 2013
HA! Served him right it did! You must have had a pleasant stay after he was indisposed so much!
By: David Walston on October 11, 2013
Well of course he was gruff and dismissive. HE WAS IN FRIGGIN' INDIA! (Sorry, one of my few unfortunate prejudices.)
By: Scott Cody Park on October 11, 2013
eek!!! i would be eating french fries with your wife, too.
By: TexWisGirl on October 11, 2013
oh my he did get his come-up-ance...pun intended. ~:-) I believe in Karma as I've seen it happen many times. Have a great weekeknd!
By: Kathe W. on October 11, 2013
I make a point of NEVER eating cutlets that are oozing green stuff!!
By: fishducky on October 11, 2013
Yay for karma!! If India is anything like here, that guide isn't taking you to a "safe" place to eat. He's taking you to the place that offers him the largest kickback from what the tourists pay to eat there. At least in Egypt, there are a plethora of 5-star hotels near all the important sites.
By: Lexa Cain on October 11, 2013
I'll bet you were glad to move on from that experience, Stephen! Straight ahead with positive experiences!! ;)
By: Michael Manning on October 11, 2013
This is why you should always take the high road.
By: mimi on October 11, 2013
I'm sorry I've been away from reading blogs for so long! What a funny story to start back up with. Thanks for the chuckle.
By: Stephanie D on October 11, 2013
Karma can be a bitch...can't she?
By: Tabor on October 11, 2013
Canberra? I didn't know that. My stomach could never cope with India. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 11, 2013
He eats a chicken cutlet with something green oozing out of it??? Well, there are more ways of being intelligent than knowing the capital of Australia if you ask me! :)
By: Jenny Woolf on October 11, 2013
His name wouldn't happen to be Dick would it?
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 11, 2013
I love this post. Karma or paybacks are a bitch. That guy sounded like a real moron. One inevery crowd as they say.
By: bouncin barb on October 11, 2013
This is karma for sure.
By: red on October 11, 2013
I was waiting to find out that the "chicken" cutlets had something to do with that black foot-long lizard.
By: Val on October 11, 2013
Karma is a bitch that never forgets!
By: Pixel Peeper on October 11, 2013
I love the fact he got a payback for his rudeness. How pretentious of him to quiz Mrs. C on a capital. We have 50 capitals, you should of handed him a piece of paper and started asking questions. What a putz. Gooey green....Sounds awful!!!
By: Cheryl P. on October 11, 2013
Hmmm, that always happens to me, too, when I go to an Indian restaurant . . . and I'm not talkin' about the rude part. I'm not ever rude to anyone!
By: tom sightings on October 11, 2013
You always have to be careful when it comes to food, even in your own country. I have no doubt that this Australian man was kicking himself out of sight knowing that he made a statement that took him down. Maybe Mrs C should have offered him something else to eat to soothe his stomach. I'd love to go to India, but I'm also aware that not every country has rules, laws, regulations like we do in Great Britain, so common sense and caution is always advised.
By: Rum Punch Drunk on October 12, 2013
Oooh, that Karma can be a bitch!
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 12, 2013
oh my goodness....gotta love karma, she's a bitch I can applaud every time. tee hee
By: OmaLinda on October 12, 2013
Good decision in passing on the chicken. Like your thoughts about Karma. To Quote John Lennon "Instant Karma's gonna get you Gonna knock you right in the face You better get yourself together darling Join the human race." and we do "all shine on..."
By: Tom Cochrun on October 12, 2013
Terrific story. So there is a God! I'm not sure, however, as to whether you will be employed by the Indian tourist board any time soon!
By: Bryan Jones on October 13, 2013
I think I've mentioned the girl next door, when I was a kid, was named Karma.
By: Uncle Skip on October 13, 2013
It is not very often one gets to see the workings of Karma in operation.................. :)
By: John on October 15, 2013

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