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


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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My Second Favorite Organ

May 16, 2014
It happened just before our son CJ was born. I was brushing my teeth. After rinsing my mouth I looked in the mirror and lifted my tongue. I don’t know why I chose this moment to do so, and I was confronted by an unusual growth on the underside of my tongue that looked like the eyeball of a sea bass. I was horrified.


Later, Mrs. Chatterbox noticed that I was being uncharacteristically quiet and asked if anything was wrong.


“I have a growth on the underside of my tongue,” I answered.


“Let me see it.”


“I’d rather not. I’m kinda sensitive about it.”


She frowned at me. “I’m your wife. We don’t keep things from each other and I’ve already seen just about everything, so lift your tongue and let me see this thing.”


I lifted my tongue.


She seemed to sway on her feet at the sight of the thing hiding on the underside of my tongue. “I’ve NEVER seen anything that looked like that!” she said. “You need to have a doctor check it out.”


I didn’t.


A few days later while visiting my brother and sister-in-law I mentioned the growth on my tongue. My sister-in-law said, “Let me see it.”


“I’d rather not,” I confessed, wishing I hadn’t brought it up. “I’m rather sensitive about it.”


“I’ve been married to your brother a long time, given birth to his children, and I’ve seen just about everything.”


So I lifted my tongue.


My sister-in-law looked pale. “B…but I’ve never seen anything that looked like that,” she exclaimed. “You need to have a doctor check it out.”


I was scheduled for a regular dental check-up around this time and when the dentist finished examining me I mentioned the growth on my tongue. “Let’s have a look at it,” he said.


I hesitated. So far everyone I’d shown it to had recoiled in disgust. But this guy was a dentist; he must have seen all sorts of horrors in people’s mouths. I lifted my tongue.


My dentist stared at the growth for a moment, a twitch developing over his right eye. Finally he said, “As a dentist I’ve seen lots of bizarre things over the years, but I’ve never seen anything like this! I’m going to make an appointment for you to see an oral surgeon. Whatever this thing is, it should be removed.”


“You’re telling me this thing should be lopped off my tongue?”


“Yes. As you probably know, the tongue is composed mostly of muscle, and cutting away this growth could affect your ability to speak. You may need a speech therapist.”


This was a nightmare. I figured I was long past speech therapy. As a kid I was burdened by a sibilant “S” and forced to recite hundreds of times:


Seventy-six sailors sailed seven salty seas.


Then as now it seemed cruel to make a kid with a sibilant “S” repeat all these Ss. Crueler still that my first and last name both contained this letter.


I made an appointment to visit an oral surgeon. When I was asked to lift my tongue I hesitated once more. “C’mon, don’t be shy. Let’s see it,” the surgeon said.


“I’m very sensitive about it.”


“Young man, I’ve been an oral surgeon for over twenty years. You can’t imagine what I’ve seen inside peoples’ mouths.”


I lifted my tongue.


The surgeon squinted at me for what seemed a very long time. He licked his lips and said, “But I’ve NEVER seen anything that looks like this. Would you mind if I included you in a paper I’m writing for the National Dental Association?”


I’m usually an attention whore, but this wasn’t the type of attention I enjoyed. I was worried about what was going to happen to my tongue. After all, it was my second favorite organ.



To be continued.


holy c..p! I'm on the edge of my chair.....
By: Kathe W. on May 16, 2014
By: TexWisGirl on May 16, 2014
Holy freaking chihuahuas! This sounds like a horror movie! At least I know it must end well, since you're still here. :)
By: Lexa Cain on May 16, 2014
You didn't !!! Oh yes you did--- you left us with a miserable cliff hanger. If this was your season finale--we would be through. You had best be back tomorrow.
By: Akansas Patti on May 16, 2014
Having been the recipient of a couple of "we've never seen anything like this" episodes, you have my sympathy and attention.
By: mimi on May 16, 2014
I maintain that it wouldn't have bothered me. I've seen bed sores that went down to the bone. I've seen a lotta shit, man. I'd like to see a picture of that thing on your tongue. Did you save it and preserve it after it was removed? Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on May 16, 2014
I can hardly wait to find out what it is, I'm thinking there must be a twist somewhere here. Fiction writer speaking.
By: Madeleine McLaughlin on May 16, 2014
Yeah...you NEVER want this kind of attention, when your doctor calls out, "Hey, y'all come in here and check this out!" Make sure you tell us the rest of the story very soon!
By: Pixel Peeper on May 16, 2014
Well I know you're here to tell the tale so it had to be something quite benign. But yes, you've got my attention. I wait with bated/baited breath (worms on my tongue, so to speak).
By: Hilary on May 16, 2014
The underside of my tongue feels strange...
By: Val on May 16, 2014
OK it is one day later and still no part ll. That is just wrong!
By: Cranky Old Man on May 16, 2014
Oh you tease! I'm dying to know what happens next. Well, mostly I just want to know that you are okay!!!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on May 16, 2014
You've left us all hanging again, Stephen!. I'm searching the medical literature looking for 'bizarre growths on the tongue'.
By: Bryan Jones on May 17, 2014
Argghh- I have to know what this thing is...I'll be back!
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on May 17, 2014
You leave us hanging-------
By: Eva Gallant on May 17, 2014
I should have guessed this would be a part one !!!
By: Tabor on May 18, 2014
Good grief- I can't wait to hear what it was and how it was resolved!
By: Shelly on May 18, 2014
OMG! I hope it turned out to be an olive slice that got stuck to your tongue. Embarrassing, finally, for everyone involved, but who cares! Can't wait to read Part 2!
By: Mitchell is Moving on May 19, 2014
I am waiting with bated breath for the next intsallment!
By: John on May 19, 2014
I'm afraid this *thing* might frighten everyone! lol
By: Daniel LaFrance on May 20, 2014

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