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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Six Minutes That Could Happen Anywhere

August 2, 2013


You might have heard about this on the news, but for me it’s personal; it happened in the building where my wife and son work.

 

The Police Records Department is located several yards inside the front door to our city hall. A thin young man, approximately eighteen years old, paced in the entryway before approaching the window and mumbling something.

    

Kathy (not her real name) was working the desk. “Could you repeat what you just said?”

    

The young man wiped sweat off his brow with the back of his hand and said, “I need help. I’m overdosing on mushrooms.”

    

Kathy called for police backup. It didn’t take long for three officers to appear. Unfortunately, the mushrooms were playing tricks with the young man’s mind and instead of police officers he later claimed he saw three terrorists about to release bombs. He attacked, swinging at them.

    

The officers tried to restrain him, without success. During the mêlée that ensued the young man was tasered several times, to no effect. He registered no pain and possessed super human strength.

    

During the scuffle with police the young man, who records would later show had a spotless record, ripped a gun from one of the officer’s holsters and fired, leaving an apple-sized hole in a concrete wall a dozen yards from the Records window near a waiting area where, fortunately, no one was waiting that day. The mentally disturbed man managed to squeeze off another shot, this one aimed at the face of another officer. For reasons not yet known, this time the gun did not fire.

    

While trying to suppress and disarm this young man, one of the officers tore the bicep muscle from his elbow, an injury that will require surgery and physical rehabilitation, but all three officers persevered and continued to struggle with him.

    

Six more officers appeared on the scene, all working up a sweat pinning the guy’s flailing arms behind him. Although the kid was slender and not built like a linebacker, he snapped the metal cuffs like they were a toy. More tasering proved ineffective. It took the combined effort of nine officers to finally subdue him.

    

Fortunately for the officers who’d drawn their weapons and were preparing to shoot, the young man was restrained with only minor injuries. I understand he’d intended to enlist and had been planning a career in the military, a career now all but impossible.

    

Although my loved ones were not present at the time, a stray bullet could have taken the life of a friend or coworker. I’m grateful for the presence of the police, and I’m sure that one day this fellow will appreciate the fact that, at great risk to themselves, the police chose not to shoot him.

    

Slapping a moral onto this story is just too easy. Instead, I’ll point out that all of this took place in six minutes, six minutes that could have occurred in your city as well as mine.

    

Thanks to police men and women everywhere.

 

       



Comments

23 Comments
Yikes, those were some really bad mushrooms.
By: PT Dilloway on August 2, 2013
Most police officers retire without ever firing their pistol. This is what disturbed me the most about the Zimmerman killing...he carried a gun but did not have the training to act as a representative of the law. Really good post!
By: Cranky Old Man on August 2, 2013
Unbelievable. And even more unbelievable that it ended without anyone being seriously hurt. And all that from "magic" mushrooms!
By: Mitchell is Moving on August 2, 2013
Oh my goodness- I did see this on the news! I'm so incredibly thankful your wife and son are OK, and that the brave policemen will mend. I hope that kid (and others who've seen it) have learned a very valuable lesson~
By: Shelly on August 2, 2013
I still with Shitake, thank you. Nice post, nice reminder. Have a great weekend, Stephen.
By: Laurel on August 2, 2013
The boy is alive because he did not wear a hoodie and his name was not Trayvon and he was not black. Sorry, just had to be a little mean today.
By: Tabor on August 2, 2013
I'll second that one, Stephen. The police routinely find themselves having to deal with some horrendous situations.
By: Bryan Jones on August 2, 2013
Thankfully no one was killed. Several thoughts come to mind. You story was an account of the events that took place. It clearly showed how some drugs can propel individuals into psychotic behaviour and in this case super human strength that challenged the efforts of several police officiers. We know nothing of this man's past and what led him to taking these drugs. Police officers are at times in the line of fire. We recently had a young man in Toronto shot 9 times by an officer who after asking everyone to leave the streetcar he was in. His weapon was a knife. The officer deployed a taser after the shots were fired. My point, each case is unique and should be handled as such. Too many individuals with mental illness don't receive the care they need.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 2, 2013
Amen!
By: The Bug on August 2, 2013
Scary stuff!!
By: fishducky on August 2, 2013
not an easy situation at all that could have gone so much 'wronger'.
By: TexWisGirl on August 2, 2013
amazing that he was subdued finally by 9 police officers and the only gun used was by that young man. We should take time to thank all those who serve to protect us- whether in the police force, fire department or military. They put their lives on the line every day. Thanks Stephen!
By: Kathe W. on August 2, 2013
It just goes to once again prove that you never know what awaits every time you step out the door.
By: mimi on August 2, 2013
Well, some might say that in this instance, Karma keeps a ledger. That the good that the mushroom fellow and policemen have done, and will do later in life, outweighs the bad. So no dire consequences resulted. Others might say that life's a crapshoot.
By: Val on August 2, 2013
I have heard several instances locally here in Kansas City of police trying to subdue people that are high on drugs and not responding to efforts to constrain them. This young man was very lucky that the police continued to try to disarm him. In many areas they would of had to fire back for the safety of persons around the scuffle. I think it is admirable that your local force handled it as they did. It is such a shame that lives are ruined like this.
By: Cheryl P. on August 2, 2013
Good Lord, I was not expecting a good outcome. Thank God it was resolved.
By: Michael Manning on August 2, 2013
I once slammed my head at Slide Rock in Oak Creek Valley in Arizona and apparently suffered a concussion which caused me to go out of my head. After nearly kicking a hospital x-ray machine to pieces, about 25 cc's of Valium got me calmed down. I don't remember any of it but my wife told me the doctor was absolutely convinced I was on drugs. I wasn't but apparently I had some pretty ferocious strength as well.
By: Catalyst/Bruce on August 2, 2013
I, too, did not expext this story to end well. Glad your family wasn't there - it probably would have made for some restless nights, thinking of the "what ifs."
By: Pixel Peeper on August 2, 2013
I have thought about situations like this when I am working at the substation. Not being an officer, I have no weapon. I have to deal with people who come in angry, drunk, high, and when I saw this, I keep wondering what would have been best to do... Yes, I always am thankful for "my" guys and gals that I work with in Law Enforcement. And I am always aware of time intervals that can be very good, or go horribly wrong... Cat
By: Cat on August 3, 2013
Wow, scary............
By: John on August 4, 2013
Wow.. I'm so glad this didn't turn into a disaster for your family and friends/co-workers. Like Daniel, the news story he recounted immediately came to my mind. I had been thinking that nine shots and a taser were.. well overkill for this kid armed with a knife in an empty streetcar. He too had a spotless record and was well loved and considered a gentle soul. With your account, I'm beginning to rethink the excessive force part. It's just a sad, crazy world. I'm glad your world wasn't brought into that sadness in a worse way than that.
By: Hilary on August 4, 2013
In our community there have been several instances of people who couldn't be subdued by taser and before long were shot and killed. I think your officers were much more patient with this young man. Kudos to them.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on August 4, 2013
Wow. Isn't it amazing how so perilously close we can get to a life-changing disaster? Once again...wow.
By: Al Penwasser on August 6, 2013

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