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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Washington is Bugged

March 24, 2017

No, I’m not going there. This isn’t about politics. This is about a different kind of bug.

 

When CJ was twelve we made a trip to Washington D.C. The time was soon coming when he’d become a surly teenager not wanting to vacation with his uncool parents. He was studying US history in school and was the perfect age to be exposed to the capital. Money was tight, but Mrs. C. found a hotel that would accept our Entertainment Book’s fifty percent discount, and airfare wars made travel affordable.

 

Mrs. C. and I had never been to Washington and were excited to see the sights and do touristy things, but I was startled when I questioned CJ before the trip as to what he was most excited to see. I expected an answer like The White House, or the Capitol Building. I thought he might say he hoped to see the President (George H. W. Bush at the time) but I wasn’t prepared for his answer.

 

Instead of selecting something sure to be found on any tourist map of our capital, he said, “I want to see a cockroach.”

 

“A cockroach?”

 

He nodded. “I told Brian in my social studies class that we were going to Washington and he said he wouldn’t go because it was hot and sticky and full of cockroaches. I want to see one.”

 

I have little doubt that cockroaches are everywhere, including Oregon, but Mrs. C. had worked tirelessly to keep our home spotless and presumably cockroach free. Her reward was having a son determined to bask in the glory of creepy bugs.

 

Off we flew to D.C., where we had a marvelous time. I managed to get us into the White House and we also toured the National Gallery and The Smithsonian, among other places. On the last day of our trip I asked CJ if he’d had a good time.

 

“Sure,” he said, sounding disappointed, like Ralphie in A Christmas Story when he thought Santa hadn’t brought him a Red Ryder air rifle.

 

On that last evening in D.C. we walked to a pizzeria across the street from our hotel where we had one of the worst pizzas ever, but while returning to our hotel I looked down and saw something curious in the gutter—a dead cricket. Actually, it was only half a cricket.

 

“Look,” I said to CJ. “There’s your cockroach!”

 

A huge grin spread across his face as he reached down to pick it up.

 

“Leave it there,” I ordered.

 

“I want to take it home as a souvenir.”

 

“Sorry, buddy. Not going happen.”

 

“Can we take a picture of it?”

 

“Sure.”

 

We fetched the camera from our hotel room and returned to take a picture, which explains why our photo album of our nation’s capital shows pictures of the Iwo Jima Monument, the Washington Monument, The Vietnam Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, The Lincoln Memorial—and half a cricket in a gutter.

 

I suppose I should feel remorse for lying to our boy, but maybe I didn’t. I’m pretty sure it was a cricket, but I’m not an entomologist and can’t be a hundred percent certain.

 

Can you tell them apart?

 

 

 

 

 

Have you visited our nation’s capital? If so, what impressed you most? 



Comments

31 Comments
Um, yeah, that's a cricket. Ha!
By: The Bug on March 24, 2017
The South is crawling with both - I can definitely tell them apart. Even worse is some of them fly...
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on March 24, 2017
I lived in Washington, D.C. for 17 years and saw far too many cockroaches, I can tell you... One had grown to the size of my foot and lived in a building where I had an apartment. The apartment I lived in was infested with them at one point -- Walked into the kitchen one night, turned the light on and saw that the ceiling was totally black -- no part of the ceiling could be seen so covered with the disgusting creatures. Fortunately, a very talented fumigation man came and divested this apartment of all signs of them -- at least until I left a few years later. I still love Washington, but will not be disappointed if I never see another cockroach until my dying day!
By: The Broad on March 24, 2017
I would think it's a pretty safe bet you saw a cockroach. I'd stick with that story.
By: Mitchell is Block on March 24, 2017
Oh, the final question... I went there from New York once a year with my family when I was growing up. Then lived there for three years as an adult. Rock Creek Park! The National Mall and all the museums!
By: Mitchell is Moving on March 24, 2017
Oh, yeah... I can identify the bugs in both of those photos as well as many more not shown.
By: Kelly on March 24, 2017
And are you sure CJ's friend wasn't actually referring to the politicians?
By: Botanist on March 24, 2017
He should have gone to the old building I worked in in Detroit, there were cockroaches aplenty.
By: PT Dilloway on March 24, 2017
Lived in the Capital one summer while taking Indonesian at the State Dept. If you really want to see cockroaches of the palmetto bug size go to Savannah. A lovely and romantic city with big bugs..
By: Tabor on March 24, 2017
Having lived in Florida for 60 years, I do know a cockroach. Job security in Fl is in extermination;.
By: Arkansas Patti on March 24, 2017
I know the difference between the two. I love D.C. So much about the city impresses me, but I'm really in awe of the Wall. Every time I've been there, I've seen vets and families finding names and breaking down in tears. The area has a certain spirit. It's mournful and fills me with awe. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on March 24, 2017
Trust me, we have enough "palmetto bugs" around here that i don't need to see them anywhere else, and yes, i could spot the difference. If he wants to see those nasty things, all he has to do is come down here and sit under an oak tree for a bit. He'll see plenty!
By: messymimi on March 24, 2017
When working one of my favorite spots in DC was the Monocle on Capitol Hill, on the Senate side. Good food, but the bar is known for their martini's. It was a good place to meet with politicos and that sort. As a tourist I cannot speak highly enough about the Newseum. It's at 555 Pennsylvania Ave and is dedicated to the five freedoms of the First Amendment. It is a 21st Century interactive museum. I've been back repeatedly. It is a must see and only 5 blocks from the Capitol, where you can see many cockroaches-of the human variety.
By: Tom Cochrun on March 24, 2017
The bugs look close enough, but cockroaches are waaaaay worse. Especially here in Florida where the female palmetto bugs fly. They are the size of Cadillacs
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on March 24, 2017
The things we do for our children. I have never been to DC. Pretty much been only on the west side of the Mississippi. I don't know if I will ever visit the nation's capitol. Definitely not anytime soon with all that is going on there currently. I don't know if I could stand all of pictures of you know who. Take care.
By: Mr. Shife on March 24, 2017
Well, when he sits down to look at the family album, I suppose CJ will probably find out NOW that he left DC without seeing his cockroach! I've never been to Washington, but I've been to Boston. That's when I could walk around without my knees bothering me. My favorite stops on the Freedom Trail were the Paul Revere House, and the Bunker Hill Monument.
By: Val on March 24, 2017
I went to visit DC once. I really liked the Nat'l Gallery and the zoo. Never saw any cockroaches. Making up for it in Egypt whee every summer, the giant ones go flying around, mating and then dying. I think you made your son happy with your fib, and that's better than the truth.
By: Lexa Cain on March 24, 2017
I visited the Capital. I was amazed the whole time.Everything I saw was exciting. Of course, a little prairie boy who'd never been anywhere would find things exciting. The Vietnam Memorial made me stop in my tracks. I'll never forget it.
By: red Kline on March 24, 2017
I visited DC with my daughter, her Grandma and Aunt in 2004/2005. They had just come out with the Segway tours and didn't have the strict age limit they have today. We got to take a tour of the city and stopped at all of the wonderful monuments via riding Segways and it was the most memorable time. I would recommend it to anyone visiting today.
By: STL Fan on March 24, 2017
I forgot to mention we stayed at the Watergate hotel for one night and it was interesting to visualize all the controversy that happened. SO much history.
By: STL Fan on March 24, 2017
Hah! The first one is a cricket and the other more ugly one is definitely a cockroach! I went to WDC when I was 13 years old. It was July and horribly hot and humid. So hot and humid my feet swelled up and I walked barefoot through the White House tour since my shoes were too small. These were the days BEFORE flip flops!
By: Kathe W. on March 24, 2017
I have been to DC twice and seen a lot of the sites, but I am most impressed by the Holocaust Museum. It's not exactly a happy place, but it is an incredible exhibit. Does a great job of illustrating the horrors that went on there.
By: Brett Minor (Transformed Nonconformist) on March 24, 2017
Crickets will eat cockroaches.
By: cranky on March 24, 2017
I havent been to DC since before my girls were born. We're sort of discussing another trip but no definite plans yet. I enjoyed the national mall. When I clicked on this post I thought it would be about bed bugs - since that's one of the souvenirs we took home from our trip. Took us two years to completely debug the apartment after that.
By: Chris on March 25, 2017
I wouldn't know a cockroach if I fell over one. Well, maybe now I will. I think they must be less common here. I've never been to your capital, but I've been to ours (Ottawa) and I must say the thing that impressed me most was how ordinary it looked. I think I was expecting streets paved with gold or something :)
By: jenny_o on March 25, 2017
Yep, that's either a cricket or a cockroach that's been hitting growth hormones :) We've been to D.C. a few times and loved. The first time I ever heard Canon in D Major by Pachelbel was in the theatre in the Smithsonian. The movie was To Fly in the first Imax theater I'd ever been in.
By: Rick Watson on March 25, 2017
Cricket, cockroach. They do look similar. And it was dark and you'd just had a terrible pizza... :-) Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on March 25, 2017
Yeah, face it....you told him a big one. ;) Yes, been to DC, mainly to see the Air and Space Smithsonian and their Garber facility where they actually restore their aircraft. Oh, yeah, saw some other touristy things, too.
By: scott park on March 25, 2017
I think you told CJ a kindly white lie.I bet his friends didn't know the difference either!
By: Jenny on March 26, 2017
Your trip was so many years ago...no sense in changing the story now. We took our son to Washington DC when he was about twelve. We loved everything, but really were impressed with the Smithonian Museums.
By: Pixel Peeper on March 28, 2017
Never been to your capital but I have been to ours in Ottawa. I do recognize many of the significant, historical and cultural sites monuments and buildings â including the iconic ones that house the federal governmentâs 3 branches; not to mention the museums and Kennedy Centre.
By: Daniel LaFrance on March 29, 2017

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