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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Pure Joy

November 2, 2015

 

Saturday was Halloween and it poured in Portland. Rain pounded the pavement and the streets were slick with soggy dead leaves. Although few children live on our street, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy seeing costumes and handing out treats so we purchased a bag of candy and hoped some little ghouls, goblins and princesses would brave the elements to ring our doorbell.

           

We didn’t get many trick or treaters, and those we did encounter were drenched. A few parents followed their kids from the dry comfort of their warm cars. During a break in the action when no one rang our bell, I went to the front window and glanced out at our street. Huddled together under an umbrella, two little girls, dressed like ladybugs, were heading our way. I was ready with the candy bowl when they climbed the steps to our front porch.

           

“Nice costumes,” I said. “I love ladybugs.” I refrained from uttering my joke about half of all ladybugs being male cross-dressers. Instead I said, “I understand that ladybugs are good luck.”

           

One of the children said, “Me and my sister luuuuuv ladybugs. They’re so pretty!”

           

The other bug smiled and nodded.

           

An idea sprang to mind. “Wait just a minute.”

           

I dashed upstairs to my nightstand, where I’d dumped two chocolate foil-rapped ladybugs given to us by a tour guide on our trip to Switzerland/Germany in May. Up until that moment, I hadn’t known what to do with them. They were too pretty to eat and Mrs. Chatterbox and I didn’t need the calories. When I presented the little girls with them, their eyes went round as banjos.

 

 

           

 

They held up the chocolate ladybugs for their parents, watching protectively from the street, to see. “Look, we got ladybugs!” they shouted with glee.

           

When they were gone, I patted myself on the back for finding a good home for our travel souvenirs, which I doubted would be eaten by such dedicated ladybug lovers. It was a joy to make them so happy, but I must confess to envying their ability to be over-the-moon for something as simple as chocolate ladybugs.

           

Fresh from this success, I’m now hunting for homes for the chocolate Swiss Army knives we also brought back with us.

 

 

 

           

           

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Comments

30 Comments
That was really nice of you! Probably a good thing you didn't hand out those knives on Halloween. Maybe you'll run into a Boy Scout troop?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on November 2, 2015
That is some cool chocolate. I am pretty sure I would not have eaten them either. What joy!!
By: Tabor on November 2, 2015
Chocolate swiss army knives? Who knew. And I'm so surprised it was raining in Portland. I did see on the news that Portland elephants in the zoo got to destroy some giant pumpkins. It looked like they really enjoyed themselves.
By: Michael Offutt on November 2, 2015
Awww that's just perfectly sweet.. so to speak. Your gift was probably the high point of their rainy night. I'm also thinking boy scouts for the knives. Your local troop would probably appreciate the donation and they could use them as part of prize handouts or something.
By: Hilary on November 2, 2015
What a great gesture! It made Halloween extra special for the little lady bugs! Gestures like that are what my dad used to call "Hyacinths for the soul". Unfortunately we had not one trick or treater, and are left with a bowl of candy!!
By: Laurie on November 2, 2015
It's nice that your ladybugs found a forever home!!
By: fishducky on November 2, 2015
I was kinda here. I will explain later.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on November 2, 2015
what a sweetie you are- you made their Halloween evening very special!Chocolate Swiss Army knives? Seriously? Wow. Have a great week!
By: Kathe W. on November 2, 2015
Those little Ladybugs will long remember that nice man who gave them such a special treat. It's probably a good thing not to have passed out those chocolate knives-it may have put you on a watch list of some sort! Now if they were chocolate 9mm pistols, you would probably have been a candidate for Man of the Year by the NRA!
By: Tom Cochrun on November 2, 2015
Who enjoyed the lady bug gift more, the little lady bug recipients, or the lady bug giver? I suspect you my friend! Good move. Be careful with the chocolate knives, you might get someone thrown out of school, and I wouldn't blame the school, they do look real.
By: cranky on November 2, 2015
it was fate. :)
By: TexWisGirl on November 2, 2015
Very cute and I know these ladybug chocolates well because I got them when I was young in my shoe:) The German custom (Austria, Holland, Poland etc..) celebrate Dec. 6th which is St. Nicholas Day. The day before, my parents would tell us that we had to polish our shoes (and theirs-they weren't dumb) and place them between the screen door and main door. In the morning our shoes were full of chocolates and candy with evergreen while my parents got potatoes. St Nicholas came and delivered treats to good girls and boys. The Ladybug is an old legend in Germany. During Midieval times , a village prayed to their Lady (Mary was bigger at that time than Jesus) to make sure their crops would not be destroyed by aphids. After praying, these tiny red bugs came and ate the aphids so they called them Ladybugs in honour of our lady Mary. You can buy them as well as chimney sweeps and other chocolates at any German Delicatessen.,
By: Birgit on November 2, 2015
Adorable ladybug. We didn't get anyone here since it's mostly older couples in the neighborhood. It was a warm and beautiful night here as opposed to your wet evening. Great idea on the candy.
By: Bouncin Barb on November 2, 2015
What an inspired candy gift. I guess you'd need to make it known that you're looking for serial killers in order to get rid of the knives next year, but it might actually be simpler to eat them. You must be incredibly strong willed not to have done it already.
By: Jenny Woolf on November 2, 2015
Little kids are amazing. Everything shows on their ace and body language. And don't forget to watch the eyes.
By: red on November 2, 2015
Aw what a great story! As you might imagine, I love ladybugs too :)
By: The Bug on November 2, 2015
You made it a very memorable Halloween for them!
By: messymimi on November 2, 2015
I think that makes you sweeter than the ladybugs!
By: Val on November 2, 2015
Serendipity all around :)
By: jenny_o on November 2, 2015
A SWEET story!
By: John on November 3, 2015
Very nice. I'm glad they weren't dressed as Swiss Army Knives.
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on November 3, 2015
I love small children for that very reason. it takes almost nothing to fill them with awe and glee.
By: ellen abbott on November 3, 2015
Wonderful gesture; those chocolate lady bugs will get checked out by their parents. We we live (rural) we don't get any costumed kids. But just in case we do... there is a bowl of goodies.
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 3, 2015
I wish they were real swiss army knives. I'd be round to your house dressed as one just to get it. I've eaten the chocolate ladybirds before, they were very tasty so I'm sure the kids will love them.
By: LL Cool Joe on November 3, 2015
Our doorbell rang twice, with three urchins each time. SWMBO says that's the last time we'll do Halloween. NOW where am I gonna get my candy?
By: Catalyst on November 3, 2015
I was going to write pretty much what Birgit wrote! She must be from Germany, too... (Too bad I don't know what her blog is - there are no links in the comments on your blogs like on other blogs - now I'd like to visit her blog!). If you have any chocolate ladybugs left, I might come to YOUR house to trick-or-treat next Halloween!
By: Pixel Peeper on November 3, 2015
What a great gesture! Hearing you tell your story, I'm not sure who was happier, you are the little neighborhood bugs? ;)
By: Scott Park on November 3, 2015
That was an inspired gift for those two kids. Reading this made me smile. R
By: Rick on November 4, 2015
In my mother's neighborhood, while visiting, I saw bus loads of kids brought in to Trick or Treat.
By: Michael Manning on November 5, 2015
Keep those pocket knives with you when you go out. Maybe you'll get mugged! Your ladybug chocolates will be something those two girls will remember for the rest of their lives. Wonderful!
By: Mitchell is Moving on November 9, 2015

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