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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Prepare to Die!

July 29, 2015

I’ve mentioned several times that Mrs. Chatterbox detests spiders. I discovered this while we were dating. She nearly fell at the sight of a spider on the stairs we were climbing to a friend’s apartment. Seeing her distress, I smashed the spider with my hand. From then on I was her knight in shining armor. This photograph is an accurate representation of how Mrs. C. remembers that date.



I don't have a problem with spiders, as is evidenced by this whimsical post from 9/30/12.



Prepare To Die!

“I’m sorry, but I have to kill you.”


“Why? Am I bothering you?”


“No, but that isn’t the point.”


“What is the point? I have a right to know. After all, it’s my life we’re talking about.”


“Well, it’s hardly a life. After all, you’re only a spider.”


“Only a spider? How dare you! I belong to a species so perfect in design that nature hasn’t changed me in hundreds of millions of years. Do you know what humans looked like millions of years ago? Here’s a clue: check the treetops.”


“So you admit that humans are more evolved than spiders?”


“You miss the point. Are all humans as dense as you?”


“You’re making it a lot easier to squish you.”


“Let me put it another way. Do you believe in reincarnation? I understand many

of you humans do. Perhaps I was once your ancestor—a beloved grandfather. You wouldn’t want to squish Grandpa, would you?”


“I don’t believe in reincarnation.”


“Shit…thought I had you on that one.”


“Enough already. It’s time to end this. Are you ready to meet your Maker?”


“Not so fast. Keep your shoe on. What’s the rush? I mean, how often do you have a conversation with a talking spider?”


“You don’t understand the delicate dance of human relationships. You’re in our bathtub and my wife is in her bathrobe, cringing behind the door and waiting to hear the flush that will send you swirling down the toilet.”


“Bathtub? I thought I was on a glacier. Anyway, please tell me I’m not about to die just because your wife has ordered you to murder me. Do you do everything she tells you to do?”


“It goes back to that delicate dance I mentioned. I’m the man; I kill the bugs. She does nearly everything else around the house and my main purpose is to kill bugs.”


“I’ll have you know that I’m much more than a bug! I’m a miracle of nature. I can lift ten times my body weight, go months without eating, and I can produce a web capable of withstanding a hurricane. Can you do any of these things?”




“I see from your expression that I’m not convincing you to spare my life. Spiders often eat their mates. If you ate yours, you wouldn’t have to obey her anymore.”


“Nice try, but it’s the female spiders, larger and more powerful than males, who do the eating.”


“Drat! Somebody’s been watching the Discovery Channel too much.”


“Enough already. I’m taking off my shoe so you’d better look away.”


“Okay. I gave it my best try. Just one more thing. When you were a kid did your teacher read you Charlotte’s Web?”


“What was the name of Charlotte’s friend, that cute little pig?”

“His name was Wilbur.”


“That’s right. Tell me, did you cry like Wilbur when Charlotte died at the end of the story?”


“You really are a son of a bitch.”


“Hey, where are you going?”

“To the kitchen to get a glass. I’ll trap you and dump you in the garden.”

“Thanks, Wilbur.”




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I understand your predicament. Kelly can see one the size of a pin head and just go berserk. I would prefer to just let them shuffle on out of my sight. Live and let live, I say.
By: Scott Park on July 29, 2015
well, I'm glad you captured and released instead of killing. as I tell my grandkids when I admonish them not to kill things just because they can can...even that bug deserves it's puny little life.
By: Ellen Abbott on July 29, 2015
Around here, we just catch and release them, if we even bother. Spiders are considered friends in our battle against the common enemy, mosquitoes!
By: mimi on July 29, 2015
I enjoyed that very much - thank you. I hate killing spiders and it has taken me years to convince Head Office that we should trap the little darlings. She announced the other day, however, that spiders are like pigeons and mice - you need to dump them in the next county, otherwise they'll wind up back at your front door next week. More recently, we have experienced a plague of aracnids high on the ceilings, making the place look like something from the Lost Tomb. The only solution is - the vaccuum cleaner. Your advice, please..?
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on July 29, 2015
It just goes to show ya: once we enter into a conversation with our "enemy," it becomes much more difficult to kill him. We're in the catch-and-release camp when it comes to spiders, too. Singing "Born Free" at the point of release is purely optional.
By: Susa Swiderski on July 29, 2015
You're the man when it comes to spinning yarns! Great giggles on this one!
By: Kathe W. on July 29, 2015
That was a hilarious exchange. You almost had him. I trap and release spiders. Not their fault they ended up in my house. Cockroaches are different story though.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on July 29, 2015
That was fun and very creative. Loved it, especially the ending.
By: Akansas Patti on July 29, 2015
Good stuff! You did the right thing.
By: cranky on July 29, 2015
The opinion of this humor writer is that you are an EXCELLENT humor writer!! (Stop out-funnying me.)
By: fishducky on July 29, 2015
A delightful and clever yarn. That spider would have made a good salesman, or debate coach. Glad you spared him.
By: Tom Cochrun on July 29, 2015
People don't need to worry about the demise of a single spider. For each one that expires, there is another one waiting to drop down from the ceiling of your dark basement lair at midnight, when everyone else is asleep, and explode into a million scurrying baby spiders when the strand of web breaks, and it lands with an almost inaudible "plop" on top of the Puffs With Lotion box. Then we'll see how many glasses can be gathered by only two hands, and how many gardens can be found to release a million baby spiders. Who are very fast scurriers, I might add, and have an affinity for the dark, cable-strewn regions behind a desktop computer.
By: Val on July 29, 2015
Funny how when people are terrified of something, they donât say theyâre terrified but that they âhateâ it. Peggy, too, is terrified of spiders. For years, I would catch them in my hand and put them outdoors, but I did worry a little about someday doing this with the WRONG spider, and it also occurred to me that they would either get back in or else build webs on the house or windows that I would then have to remove. So, I finally started killing them, but I only do it at home (or, rarely, in a motel). Anywhere else, theyâre perfectly safe where Iâm concerned. I read this story to Peggy, and we both enjoyed it.
By: Snowbrush on July 29, 2015
loved it. :)
By: TexWisGirl on July 29, 2015
Great story!
By: Catalyst on July 29, 2015
Okay, I predicted you'd kill him. Tricky ending and lots of info on spiders.
By: red on July 29, 2015
That spider was putting you on. Spiders, as any comic book reader will tell you, have spidey sense. He should have felt your presence long before you even arrived.
By: Al Penwasser on July 29, 2015
Oh I love this story-I am picturing the spider has an English accent:) I am with your wife-I totally freak out yet I also cried at the end of that book. Glad you put the nasty creepy crawly thing outside
By: Birgit on July 29, 2015
Death can be a messy affair.
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 29, 2015
One of my least favorite experiences involved a wood spider falling on my shoulder. At that distance, it looked like it was a foot long. I'm not usual wimpy about bugs and snakes, but that freaked me out.
By: Cherdo on July 29, 2015
I loved this one Stephen. I do the same function here. We were walking down around our barn a few heard and Jilda got a face full of spiderweb with a spider as big as a bat. She invented a whole new genre of profanity. R
By: Rick Watson on July 30, 2015
Abnormally high air temps really have quite an effect up you Portanders--huh?
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on July 30, 2015
The spider in your bathtub sounded like it was an attorney spider!
By: Pixel Peeper on July 30, 2015
An excellent thought provoking post, with the perfect dosage of humor!
By: John on July 31, 2015
Fantastic story!! I don't like them either but I commend you!!
By: Bouncin Barb on July 31, 2015

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