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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Music of the Night

February 10, 2016

My mother is being haunted by the music of the night, but not the pellucid notes of Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s hearing voices. Lately, we’ve been having conversations like this:


“How was your night, Mom? Did you finally get a good night’s sleep?”


“No! I’m hearing that music again!”


“Is it possible you’re imagining it? Could it be in your head?”


“Listen, Buster, I may be old but I’m not senile. I know when I’m hearing something.”


“Did it start up again at exactly 2:00?”


“Yes, but it didn’t wake me. I woke and then heard it.”


“I think you’re hearing it in your sleep and your subconscious is responding to it, waking you up.”


My mother insists someone is playing music from 2:00 to 5:00 every morning, gospel music, male voices singing three or four songs over and over.


“Why don’t you ask the office to check it out? The music is obviously bothering you.”


“It doesn’t bother me!”


“Yet here we are talking about it again. Has it occurred to you that someone would be nuts to play the same few songs over and over, seven nights a week? This music is probably on a timer that’s been accidentally activated. The person living in that apartment is probably sleeping through it and doesn’t even know it’s on. Why don’t you ask the maintenance man to look into it?”


“He was here yesterday fixing my TV. I mentioned it to him.”


“Great. When did he say he’d get back to you?”


“I ordered him not to look into it.”


“Why? You’re insuring that the problem continues.”


“I don’t want to be a complainer. Like I keep telling you; it DOESN”T bother me.”


Yet we talk about it every day, and this from a woman who complains about everything. She recently informed me that I ruined her houseplant by over-fertilizing it. Now it has to go because it’s so big it makes her nervous.


What about my nerves? I’m starting to hear voices too, but it’s best not to leave a record of what they’re telling me to do. Maybe some soothing nocturnal gospel music would calm me down.





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Ahah! Buy a tape recorder that can go for at least 24 hours and hide it somewhere in her bedroom? Or talk to the maintenance folks yourself. What the heck- it'll give her something new to complain about? Thank goodness I am not doing that to annoy my kids! At least I don't think I am....snicker.
By: Kathe W. on February 10, 2016
Face it. It's better than seeing a white light in the corner of the room.
By: Catalyst on February 10, 2016
Once again, this reads like a great synopsis for a situation comedy. Who would you cast in the roles?
By: Tom Cochrun on February 10, 2016
I love your mom--but I'm glad she's not mine!!
By: fishducky on February 10, 2016
Remember, women don't want solutions, just someone to listen. Her houseplant scares her? Is it a Venus fly trap?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on February 10, 2016
"Remember, women don't want solutions" That's funny, my wife proposes solutions to my problems all the time. Please donât kill her houseplant. If I were closer, Iâd take it. Yesterday, I was awakened by the phone and jumped out of bed to answer it on the fourth ring, only to have Peggy assure me that it didnât ring at all. Since the answer machine didnât turn-on, i believe she was right. Thatâs what Neurontin will do a person, so you might consider the possibility that your mother might be reacting to a drug, although I think she probably is hearing music.
By: Snowbrush on February 10, 2016
Maybe you need to do what my mom used to do with her best friend who could talk and talk....Just say ya ya and then continue one with what you were doing. I came up to see my mom once (she lived with me in the upstairs apt) and i said high and she was eating. She told me to shhh and then picked up her phone beside her and said "Ya, ya" and then put it back down again. She told me her friend was on and that is all she has to do. Your mom doesn't want anything fixed which men love to do, she just wants to complain so let her but let it go in one ear and out the other otherwsie she will drive you nuts:)
By: Birgit on February 10, 2016
Yes to Kathy, FIshducky, Alex and Birgit. Your mom is a pip!
By: cranky on February 10, 2016
Oh your poor sweet old mother :). It sounds like the natural progression of age to me. My mother hears all kinds of things these days. I guess I'm just waiting my turn.
By: Michael Offutt on February 10, 2016
the plant is so big it makes her nervous?! hahahahaha!
By: TexWisGirl on February 10, 2016
I'm with Kathy. Get the recorder and hide it in that monstrous plant. You might be surprised to learn that she is right.
By: Arkansas Patti on February 10, 2016
Um, I like gospel music pretty well, but there's nothing at all soothing about it :)
By: The Bug on February 10, 2016
What's the matter, she doesn't like the selection? Would she changer her tune if it was AC/DC?
By: Val on February 10, 2016
Your mother is one of a kind, and i'm sure you are glad about that!
By: messymimi on February 10, 2016
Oh those mother's of ours!! They will and do drive us nuts. I totally understand.
By: Bouncin Barb on February 10, 2016
Arlynda's mother lives with us, and she is not a complainer, neither. Sigh.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on February 10, 2016
I'm still laughing about the plant that makes her nervous. Too funny!
By: Pixel Peeper on February 10, 2016
It's rather sad when the irrational takes over sometimes. Obviously your mother has a hunch that she's just hearing things in her mind.
By: red on February 10, 2016
There is nothing golden about their golden years. It's sad as Red mentioned and the probably the best way to manage it all is to see the humour in it all.
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 10, 2016
I wouldn't be at all surprised if your mom turns out to be right (although how you'll find out I don't know, if she won't tell anyone else). My late father used to tell me things from time to time that made me think his age-related dementia was getting worse. In many cases he turned out to be right! (I would find out from staff in the nursing home or from the news.) I second the recommendation to just listen, not worry about it unless it's a threat to your mom's health, and hope that CJ does the same for you in your dotage :)
By: jenny_o on February 10, 2016
I adore your mother - yet I'm so glad I don't have to live with her!!
By: Bryan Jones on February 11, 2016
By: John on February 11, 2016
Reminds me of what Bela Lugosi said in "Dracula": "The children of the night...what music they make." Or something like that. Any vampires move in next door?
By: Al Penwasser on February 11, 2016
Oh, yeah. I have those conversations with my mother all the time. "But I don't complain. I only talk to YOU about it." Uf!!!
By: Mitchell Is Moving on February 11, 2016
Your mom is an armful. and in spite of this you are a humor essayist. My hate is off to you!
By: Tabor on February 11, 2016
looks like you have your hands full. Oh But what fun. Lisa
By: Lisa on February 11, 2016
Regardless of the music, hearing it at 2 AM would not be pleasant, but I'm glad she enjoys gospel!
By: Sage on February 12, 2016

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