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 Perfect Job

April 21, 2014

A few days ago Mrs. Chatterbox informed me that our mattress needed flipping.

    

“Why?” I asked.

    

“We’re wearing trenches into our mattress and need to turn it over.”

    

For one reason or another, we didn’t get around to flipping our mattress that day but when we climbed into bed that evening I noticed we both appeared to be sinking into the mattress, as if we were toys in Styrofoam packaging. Granted we weren’t light people, but I had no idea we were slowly moving in the direction of hell. I later joked that we needed to hire someone to sleep on the mound separating us, to flatten the pitcher’s mound rising in the middle of our mattress.

    

Mrs. Chatterbox rolled her eyes in that way only wives can. “If we spent more time together in the middle of the bed instead of always adjourning to our separate sides, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

    

In spite of the fact that my wife was suggesting that the fix to this problem was having more intimacy, my male brain, inexplicably and uncharacteristically, went in another direction. I began contemplating a new line of work for myself.

    

I told Mrs. C., “I think I’ve figured out a way to kill two birds with one stone. You complain that I never go anywhere and I’m always underfoot, and money is often tight and we could use some extra income…”

    

She rolled her eyes again. In her defense, none of my brilliant income-generating ideas have borne fruit. “Is this like the time you started a business called Masterstrokes to copy and sell famous paintings (Read about it here) but we received calls at all hours from perverts thinking you were peddling sex?”

    

I still think Masterstrokes was a terrific idea, even though I had no idea there were so many nasty minded people out there. But Mrs. C. is a good wife, capable of feigning interest in my unorthodox ideas. “Let’s hear it,” she said.

     

“We can’t be the only couple with a depression in their mattress. What if I created a company where I rented myself out as a remedy to this problem. For a fee I’ll come to your house and sleep on the bump in the middle of your mattress. Finally, a job where my weight will be an asset rather than a liability.”

    

“Why would people pay you for this service instead of just flipping their mattresses?”

    

“Mattresses are heavy and cumbersome. Besides, people are lazy and often pay to have tasks done they could easily do themselves.”

    

I didn’t like the way she tilted her head and glared at me while saying, “I agree, some people are lazy. You really think couples will hire a stranger to sleep in their bed? What if they get amorous? Won’t you be in the way?”

    

“If they were accustomed to being amorous,” I reasoned, “they wouldn’t have that bump in the middle of their mattress.” I was already thinking about an advertising strategy, and price list.

    

Mrs. C. sighed deeply. “How long do you think it would take to flatten someone’s mattress?”

    

“A few weeks.”

     

“So you’d be gone all that time?”

    

“It would be as if I worked graveyard in a factory. I’d be home during the day while you’re at work.”

    

“Let me get this straight,” she said. “At night you’ll be in someone else’s bed. You’ll be snoring, getting up five times a night to empty your peanut sized bladder, hogging all the blankets and demanding someone crawl out of bed and make you a snack. And nothing illicit will be going on.”

    

“That’s right.”

    

She must have been envisioning nights of uninterrupted sleep. Instead of dismissing my idea she smirked. “This is one of your finest ideas! Go for it!”

    

Any volunteers for my first customer?

 



Comments

28 Comments
Umm...I think it'd be better if you went back to the Masterstrokes idea... ;)
By: Lexa Cain on April 21, 2014
Uh Stephen- this is NOT one of your better ideas. Masterstrokes has far more potential. Plus I think I'd rather hire two handsome Cabana Boys to come over and flip my mattress! Or something.
By: Kathe W. on April 21, 2014
This is one question I won't have to sleep on!
By: Cranky on April 21, 2014
I have thought about this post for some time. My conclusion? I think you've had better ideas, Stephen.
By: Catalyst on April 21, 2014
If you get more business than you can handle, my Sweetie would make a great mattress flatening company employee!
By: mimi on April 21, 2014
I have a memory foam one so I shouldn't need your services.
By: PT Dilloway on April 21, 2014
i wish i could flip my mattress - damn pillow top. all i can do is twirl it.
By: TexWisGirl on April 21, 2014
As much as it pains me to torpedo your brilliance...wouldn't it be easier to market the "mattress lump removal system" which would be a huge bag filled with sand (in a pretty cloth tube) that would be delivered and picked up. You could be collecting on a multitude of uneven beds instead of one at a time. A secondary purpose would be separating couples that aren't feeling all that friendly.
By: Cheryl P. on April 21, 2014
Think Cheryl P may have a good alternative especially since you can only flatten one bed at a time.
By: Akansas Patti on April 21, 2014
I would NOT want to sleep in strangers beds for weeks at a time...especially with them in the bed. We have tracks in our bed but we have one of those foam toppers and we flip that every once in a while.
By: Tabor on April 21, 2014
You and Mrs. C have fun chats. I think you just got hired as chief leg-puller. :)
By: Hilary on April 21, 2014
No, but you can come and help me flip my mattress!
By: red on April 21, 2014
I bet Lucy and Ricky Ricardo never had that problem... :-)
By: Pixel Peeper on April 21, 2014
Ever the entrepreneur! I think this business has potential. I will put a rack of your business cards on the counter of my proposed handbasket factory. Here's a suggestion: You can work days. Sleep on that lump while people are away at work. You don't even have to sleep. Save your sleep time to be with Mrs. C. You can raid the fridge of your customers, and watch their cable all day long while flattening their mattress. Just be sure to put it back on their channel, and Hoover the crumbs out of the bed.
By: Val on April 21, 2014
So this Masterstrokes thing....do I have to give my credit card number or is it just added to my phone bill? Will it show up on my bill as something that the Mrs might start asking questions about? Can it be delivered in a plain brown "invoice enclosed" envelope? Oh...the sleep over idea: stick with the Masterstrokes. :)
By: Scott Park on April 21, 2014
Well, I for one, like your idea. We have that bump in the middle of our mattress, too, and we can't flip it b/c the other side is not finished. But ... could you come during the day rather than at night?
By: Tom Sightings on April 21, 2014
We've noticed those indentations as well and have found flipping does help, but oh boy! Flipping a mattress is a kind of test of a couples ability to communicate and accomplish a difficult task, while staying calm. It would probably make a hilarious YouTube series.
By: Tom Cochrun on April 21, 2014
good luck with that Stephen :)
By: Fran on April 22, 2014
Oh my dear man.....Cheryl P has the answer for you. Or you could perform an additional service and hire extra lump flatteners and lots of ladies would have peace filled nights sleep as their significantly challenged others were off working for your new endeavor. Lump flattener makes me giggle.
By: Oma Linda on April 22, 2014
This is just a brilliantly funny post, I loved it.
By: John on April 22, 2014
Didn't you hear the rumour? Waterbeds are coming back to the market place. Apparently it has some catchy marketing spin about no bumps, trenches or a need to be twirled or flipped.
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 22, 2014
What about picking up some additional work sitting on the unused parts of people's couches? Mine has a dip where I normally sit, and I would like to even things out on the other end of the sofa.
By: Kianwi on April 22, 2014
Combine it with Masterstrokes, and you'll make millions. This was very amusing, though I suspect Mrs. C wasn't joking. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on April 22, 2014
I'm wrestling with the rather disturbing 'three-in-a-bed image that you have evoked! I'll give your question further thought when I've regained equilibrium.
By: Bryan Jones on April 22, 2014
You are a nut (wish I had a dollar for very time I've said that). When Mike & I got married we got an old mattress from his grandmother's house. It was first sold in 1956 - older than Mike! But someone had worn a trench in the middle of it which was perfect for newlyweds :)
By: The Bug on April 22, 2014
I'm rolling my eyes...but I'm a mattress flipper. LOL!
By: Coloring Outside the Lines on April 23, 2014
As my grandniece has been known to say... "Hmmmm. Maybe not." I've got problems with mattress flipping, however. First, can't do that with pillow-tops! The physics just don't make sense to me. If the mattress is completely dead in one spot, when you flip it, won't gravity just do its thing all over again? I'd buy a new mattress. Or have more sex with Mrs. C... I mean... Well... You know what I mean!
By: Mitchell is Moving on April 24, 2014
ours had terrible divots in it and could not be flipped because of the way it was constructed. we got a new mattress!
By: lime on April 27, 2014

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