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


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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Wrong Place: Wrong Time

September 25, 2013



On Monday Mrs. Chatterbox’s car was in the shop so I drove her to work. She’s employed by the police department in our town and across the street from where she works is an outdoor mall. Later that day I arrived too early to pick her up for the drive home so I ambled across the street to kill time. As it happened, while wandering through the shops I received a call from nature and followed signs to a public restroom in a far-off corner of the mall’s courtyard.


I do my best to avoid public restrooms but this was an unscheduled emergency. So there I was sitting in a men’s room stall, minding my own business and doing what most men do in a similar situation; I was reading the graffiti on the walls. A prominent message scribbled in black felt marker read:


For a mind-blowing good time be in this stall on Monday, September 23rd at 5:00 PM.


I didn’t put too much thought into it, except to reflect on the fact that it was Monday.

(Queue in the sound of chirping crickets)


I didn’t put too much thought into it, except to reflect on the fact that it was September.

(Queue in more chirping crickets)


I didn’t put too much thought into it, except to reflect on the fact that it was the 23rd of September.

(Queue in full symphony of chirping crickets)


I checked my wristwatch and saw that it was four minutes before five.

(Screw the stupid crickets! They could finish their symphony without me.)


I had no idea I could run that fast!







I think there was a scene like that in "Dumb and Dumber." I don't think things ended well for Jeff Daniels, so it's probably good you got out of there.
By: PT Dilloway on September 25, 2013
Confused says, It is a wise man who pulls up his pants and hauls.
By: Oma Linda on September 25, 2013
Pretty sure you couldn't make that up!
By: Cranky on September 25, 2013
By: The Bug on September 25, 2013
Weren't you even a teensy-weensy bit curious? Glad wisdom prevailed!!!
By: The Broad on September 25, 2013
HA! That was great. Love the urinals.
By: David Walston on September 25, 2013
I'm trying to imagine how you'd depict such an encounter in a painting... and I cannot.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 25, 2013
First rule of writing, Steve: the writer must be open to new experiences. Maybe if you went back. . .?
By: Jo Barney on September 25, 2013
Haha! I think I could probably still hoof it pretty fast myself under those circumstances. :) S
By: Scott Cody Park on September 25, 2013
ha ha!
By: TexWisGirl on September 25, 2013
X travels a great deal for his job. He won't use any restroom in the San Francisco airport! Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on September 25, 2013
OMG!!! That's hysterical!!
By: Rita McGregor on September 25, 2013
you can make some of the most dull moments become exciting!! and certainly not boring or ho-hum! and the photos are hysterical also! I think I would have hung around just to see if anything really happened! Keep those funny stories coming! Cheers!!
By: Kathe W. on September 25, 2013
ps I jst looked at my comment and have decided I need to join "Exclamation points anonymous"
By: Kathe W. on September 25, 2013
What a terrible time in your life to be so rudely interrupted!
By: red on September 25, 2013
I love the urinals, too. But, try as I might, I just can't get comfortable sitting down to read the newspaper.
By: Al Penwasser on September 25, 2013
In my dreams (nightmares?), public restrooms have no graffiti since they have no walls. They are just out in the open... Not sure what's worse - the graffiti you saw or my dreams without walls!
By: Pixel Peeper on September 25, 2013
Dang! I thought we were going to find out that you were in the women's room.
By: Val on September 25, 2013
At least you weren't far from where you would have to go to report it all to the police...
By: mimi on September 26, 2013
I wonder if it was written at 10 minutes to 5 and the author was watching outside the mens' room to see who came hightailing it out of there!!
By: jenny_o on September 26, 2013
By: Hilary on September 26, 2013
I avoid them for this reason, Stephen. Glad you got out of there!
By: Michael Manning on September 26, 2013
Wow, that was a close shave.
By: Bryan Jones on September 26, 2013
What can I say, the imagery..........Great tale!
By: John on September 27, 2013
I would say ..'oh shit" but that just seems so easy. Frankly if I saw a message like that, I would stop mid-stream and run out of the bathroom. There are too many nuts in the world to take a chance.
By: Cheryl P. on September 27, 2013
But you missed a "mind-blowing good time." Not just a "really" good time or a "groovy" time, but mind-blowingly good time! Dude, I woulda stayed to see what sauntered in through the door. (Love the bathroom comics!)
By: Lexa Cain on September 27, 2013
Ew. I hate when I have to do a "sit-down" in a public restroom. Weren't you a little bit curious to see who showed up? (Although, I think I would have gotten out of there pretty quick myself.) Then again... when was the last time you had a "mind-blowing good time"? (And did he actually use a hyphen? A literate toilet trick?)
By: Mitchell Is Moving on October 1, 2013

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