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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The Grand Tour

December 15, 2013

 

 

As many of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox works for the local police department. One of her tasks is to give tours of city hall, where our police department is housed. On Friday she hosted a Cub Scout tour of forty-eight second graders. These tours are extremely popular with youngsters. Mrs. C. escorts them through the records department, dispatch and several other departments but, charming though she is, Mrs. C. is not the attraction; the kids are here to talk to real live cops, and cops, when available, go out of their way to make the tour interesting for the kids. It was a lively crowd on Friday with hundreds of questions leveled at Sergeant Dawson, who happened to be on duty at the time.

    

“Can I fire your gun?” asked a freckled scout.

    

“Sorry, it isn’t allowed. But tell me, how many of you scouts have guns at home?”

    

A few hands went up.

    

“I hope they’re kept in a safe place, locked up.”

    

Little heads nodded.

    

“What would any of you do if you found a gun laying around somewhere?”

    

Dozens of arms shot up, and Sergeant Dawson picked someone.

    

“I’d tell an adult,” answered a red headed boy.

    

“Good answer,” said the Sergeant, who then proceeded to identify all the equipment on his tool belt. The taser got many oohs and aahs even though Dawson refused to shoot anyone with it. Inside the jail cells, the scouts fought for the privilege of sitting on the stainless steel toilets. Several had to be refrained from using them.

    

“Why do you wear that?” asked a chubby boy, pointing at the gleaming badge on Dawson’s chest.

    

The Sergeant answered by asking, “Has anyone heard of the Knights of the Round Table?”

    

A buzz of affirmation filled the room.

    

“Knights were the good guys back then, and police are today’s good guys. What did the knights use for protection?”

    

“Shields!” was the collective response.

    

“My badge is my shield,” the Sergeant explained.

     

“What about police dogs?” someone shouted. Can we see one?”

    

The tour was led outside to the parking lot where one of the canine teams, Harley and his handler, greeted them, Harley’s tail wagging up a breeze. After receiving a serious face licking one of the scouts said, “He doesn’t look mean enough to chase bad guys.”

    

Dawson was prepared; he blew a whistle and a plainclothes cop with padded arm protection appeared from nowhere and sprinted across the parking lot. Harley’s attitude changed; no longer focused on the children, he became all business, his ears twitching with alertness, his attention riveted on the perp. Harley’s handler unclipped the leash and shouted something in German. Harley dashed across the parking lot to where the “bad guy” was hiding between two cars. He sank his teeth into the padded arm and, growling, hung on until another command was given, at which point Harley’s demeanor returned to one of playfulness.

    

One of the scouts had tears in his eyes at the conclusion of the demonstration. When asked what had upset him he explained, “My mom and dad say I can’t have a dog cuz our backyard is too small, and Mom’s ‘lergic.”

    

Sergeant Dawson crouched down to his level. “Did you know that as a citizen of this city your parents pay taxes that pay for things like fire trucks, traffic signs—and police dogs. That means everyone in the city owns Harley, including you.”

    

The boy’s eyes grew big as saucers. “Really? Can I take him home sometime, just for a little while?”

    

Dawson shook his head. “He wouldn’t be able to understand you. Harley only understands German. That’s so bad guys can’t give him commands. You don’t speak German, do you?”

    

He shook his head.

     

“Well, at least you know he’s out there keeping our city safe.”

    

Sergeant Dawson concluded the tour by allowing the kids to sit behind the wheel of a squad car. As the troop queued up in front of their bus, Dawson noticed one boy who hadn’t spoken. “Don’t you have a question for me?” he asked.

    

The scout’s face knotted in concentration. He pointed at Dawson’s holstered weapon. “Have you shot any zombies with that?”

    

Sergeant Dawson started to say something but changed his mind. He smiled and said, “Not yet.”

 

 

 

 

    

       



Comments

21 Comments
Cops get a bad rap for their "attitude" but they have a bad attitude because they deal with trash. Put them with kids and you see their real personality. Great post!
By: Cranky on December 15, 2013
Great telling of an important event for all children....meeting the police in an atmosphere of interchange and question, instead of in other situations.
By: Oma Linda on December 15, 2013
too cute through the eyes of a child (or 48)
By: TexWisGirl on December 15, 2013
Not yet? Does he know something we don't? I guess if I get chased by a police dog I should start shouting, "Achtung!" Or something like that.
By: PT Dilloway on December 15, 2013
Big fan of cops!!
By: Tabor on December 15, 2013
What a cool field trip. I would enjoy Harley, but I don't speak much German. I need to learn more. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on December 15, 2013
This story has me smiling - I just can imagine all the admiration in the hearts of the cub scouts!
By: Pixel Peeper on December 15, 2013
Every kid should have a tour like this, and of the fire station to meet the firefighters and EMTs. For the kids and for the grown-ups.
By: mimi on December 15, 2013
What a great way to learn about the police!!
By: fishducky on December 15, 2013
Something they'll never forget. I never knew that about speaking to the dogs in German. makes a lot of sense.
By: Al Penwasser on December 15, 2013
I'm glad they were all dog-lovers. I have had a few kids who are scared to death of dogs, even at the high school age. When they know the drug dog is searching, they panic. And not because they're drug mules. "Can it get in here? I'm afraid of dogs. I hear its toenails! "Don't let it in!" Of course the dogs can't search kids, only lockers in the hall. But some of them have been in tears, shaking, and climbing up on the desk. That chase scenario might make them faint. Of course, these were girls, so I doubt any of them were Cub Scouts. What brave little guys.
By: Val on December 15, 2013
Out of the mouth of babes...great story.
By: Bouncin Barb on December 15, 2013
These kids are very fortunate to have a good tour of the police station and meet and see what policemen actually do.
By: red on December 15, 2013
That is so sweet! They went to a lot of trouble to entertain the kids and help them understand. No one ever did that when I was young, and---come to think of it---I don't think I've ever actually met a policeman.
By: Lexa Cain on December 15, 2013
Love it!
By: John on December 16, 2013
Feel-good post - just right for the Christmas run-in. I feel more upbeat for having read it. Thank you.
By: Bryan Jones on December 16, 2013
Thankfully this program exists. These kids received a great lesson. Wonderful/Wunderbar
By: Daniel LaFrance on December 16, 2013
Great post. I remember my own son enjoying one of those tours.. or similar. It's good for them to see what those dogs are capable of.. both the working aspect and their loving demeanor. Thanks for posting and thanks to Mrs. CC for sharing her experience.
By: Hilary on December 16, 2013
Perfect! (And Sargent Dawson is one amazing PR man!)
By: Mitchell is Moving on December 16, 2013
Nice to read about such a positive way for kids to interact with the police. We could use this as a positive article in the local paper instead of all the bad things people do. Kudos for the teacher for arranging this for the students! Merry Christmas to Harley and to all the Portland Police!!
By: Kathe W. on December 16, 2013
I love to read about such a fun and positive interaction between the police and children. Sergeant Dawson sounds like he has a great rapport with kids. Gosh, I would of like to gone on that tour.
By: Cheryl P. on December 17, 2013

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