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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Blog

Memory Lane

March 30, 2015
Does anyone ever plan on growing old? I know I didn’t. When mature enough to start reflecting on the voyage of my life, I was surprised to find out how little documentation there was that I’d ever existed.
           
A popular blog meme is “Throwback Thursdays,” where folks post vintage pictures of themselves. I’ve never participated ...

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Paradise Lost

March 27, 2015
One of the guys I hung out with in college was an architecture student named Alan Aoki, the son of a prominent Northern California florist. His parents often sent flowers to his dorm room, which at first we all thought strange, but eventually we came to appreciate the wonderful scents and colors.
           
One night while partying in Alan’s room, he pointed ...

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An Ambiguous Ending

March 25, 2015
 
Some tales are straightforward and conclude without ambiguity, but this is not one of those stories. It’s a true incident that happened to me in 1983 when I left my position as display manager for Mervyn’s Dept. Store, and took a position as manager of an art gallery in Portland, Oregon.
           
Soaring Wings Gallery specialized in wildlife ...

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The Big "O"

March 23, 2015
 
I didn’t have many followers when I posted this early in 2012. You might have missed it.
 
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Our tour bus was cutting through the Taurus Mountains of Turkey, located on the edge of the Anatolian Plateau where people have been living since Paleolithic times. The mountains were modest compared to the Alps or Rockies, with expansive valleys meeting ...

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Buccaneers of Buzz

March 20, 2015
 
I know many of you have published thousands of posts, but today is Chubby Chatterbox post #600, actually #623 but I’ve subtracted reposts. Although the weather isn’t cooperating everywhere, today is the first day of Astronomical spring and I wanted to post something appropriate.
 
My illustrations were mostly created for books, newspapers and magazines. This picture, done for my own amusement, ...

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It's All Who You Know

March 18, 2015
 
Sometimes, avoiding a ticket comes down to who you know.
           
I haven’t received too many traffic violations (I don’t enjoy driving and do so as little as possible) but recently I remembered a time when I was pulled over by a cop—in 1982. Mrs. C. was working as an executive assistant at the time, but I was unemployed and on my way ...

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One-Step or Two-Step?

March 16, 2015
 
As an art professor, my job included exposing students to various art techniques so they could choose the one best suited to what they wished to express. Most of my students had a fervent desire to learn how to paint portraits, capture likenesses and master flesh tones.
           
In Western art, there are two distinct ways to paint portraits. The first is ...

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Scene at an Airport

March 13, 2015
 
As most of you know, Mrs. Chatterbox and I love to travel, and we’ve seen many interesting things. I try not to prejudge what I’ll see because it’s usually those unexpected or unanticipated experiences that have the deepest impact. The incident I’m going to describe didn’t happen overseas; it happened at New York’s Kennedy Airport, a simple scene but one that still lingers with ...

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Pen & Ink

March 11, 2015

 
I’m still in the process of looking for the ink illustration I mentioned in my recent post, A Comforting Face. (If you missed it, check it out here.) While prowling through my files, I came across a few more pen & ink caricatures. This time I thought it might be fun to have you guess who these folks are. It’s an odd assortment of people, but I bet you get them all. The answers are at ...

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Hemingway's Coat

March 9, 2015
 
 
This piece of fiction was first posted on 11/2/12.
 
 
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“I thought you wanted to be a writer,” the old woman said to fourteen year old Becky. 
           
“I do, Granny. My brain is full of ideas, but I have trouble putting them down on paper. All of the ...

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A Comforting Face

March 6, 2015
 
 
When I began my illustration business, I had to scramble for work. I’d always enjoyed creating pen & ink drawings and seemed to have a knack for arranging lines in pleasing patterns to suggest a rich tonality. Pen & ink drawings are often used for logos and mastheads because they reproduce easily and cheaply.
           
I was excited ...

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A Developing Language Problem

March 4, 2015
 
Launching myself into the workforce after high school wasn’t easy. I’ve written several accounts of job disasters. Here’s another.
           
After graduating from high school, the future Mrs. Chatterbox landed a summer job at A-1 Color Lab in nearby San Jose. A color lab is a place where professional photographers bring film from weddings ...

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Stephen Hayes
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