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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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook II

November 27, 2015
I hope everyone had a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. I made merry yesterday and didn’t have an opportunity to write anything, but here are a few photographs from a trip we made to El Edén Eco Park near Puerto Vallarta. Our bus struggled up a dirt trail—it would be a stretch calling it a road—and the jungle was so thick it was easy imagining disheveled contestants from ...

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Puerto Vallarta Scrapbook

November 25, 2015
Our hotel in Puerto Vallarta was old and in need of repairs and didn’t look nearly as charming as it did in online photographs, but it was ideally situated on the Bay of Banderas, close to Old Town and The Malecon—a coastal promenade and walkway—yet far enough away from the fleets of buses filled with tourists. The ocean was close enough for us to hear the waves lapping the shore from our balcony ...

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We're Home!

November 23, 2015
When word reached me that Paris had suffered a series of terrorist attacks I was lying on a beach in Puerto Vallarta with a drink in my hand. Although fortunate to be away from such carnage, I felt sad for the families and friends of the victims; my vacation buzz vanished like a fart in a fan factory. But on our journey home an incident happened that refreshed my faith in humanity.

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A Few Announcements

November 6, 2015
I know many of you have been blogging a long time, some of you as much as a decade. I’m still a rookie at this with only five years under my belt. Still, I’m proud of reaching a milestone: this is my seven hundredth post. It seems like only yesterday that son CJ was helping build my blog and patiently explaining how it worked. I still have a lot of stories to share and I look forward to doing so until ...

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"Happy Little Trees"

November 4, 2015
I had surgery in the late nineties and was home for a few weeks convalescing. Daytime television was a nightmare and I was constantly flipping channels to find something better to watch than soap operas and Andy Griffith reruns. I landed on PBS, where a soft-spoken man with a funny afro was showing viewers how to paint. The program was called The Joy of Painting. In my opinion, the canvas ...

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Pure Joy

November 2, 2015
Saturday was Halloween and it poured in Portland. Rain pounded the pavement and the streets were slick with soggy dead leaves. Although few children live on our street, Mrs. Chatterbox and I enjoy seeing costumes and handing out treats so we purchased a bag of candy and hoped some little ghouls, goblins and princesses would brave the elements to ring our doorbell.
We ...

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Silent Screams

October 30, 2015
I’ve been dabbling in fiction, and this piece just won an honorable mention in a short story contest. I’m posting it in honor of Halloween. If you’re terrified of spiders, don’t read this.
Army brats have no say where their parents are posted. I was miserable when my father, a career officer, was ordered to a base near Berlin. Once again ...

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Commercial Angst

October 28, 2015
Do you ever get the feeling that the universe is screwing with you?
Last week I was watching TV and waiting for son CJ to arrive so we could take Mrs. Chatterbox to dinner for her birthday. I was flipping around trying to find something interesting to pass the time and most of the channels showed commercials advertising the same product. I’ve ...

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The Connoisseur

October 26, 2015
In 1961, judges for the Coopertown Art Association in New York awarded first prize to an abstract painting signed by an unknown Italian artist. That same painting, this time signed by the artist “Percival,” later won honorable mention at a Berkshire Museum exhibition. Both groups of judges must have been shocked to learn the painting they admired and lavished with praise ...

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October 23, 2015
As an artist who likes portraying people, I’m always on the lookout for subjects willing to sit for me. I’ve been told that having an artist stare at you for hours over several days is unsettling. Picasso required Gertrude Stein to endure sixty sessions for her portrait.
Arranging sittings is a difficult task, so over the years I’ve ...

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Are You Lucky ?

October 21, 2015
The line was busy when I dialed my ninety year old mother for our daily conversation, so I called back a few minutes later and got her.
Aside from me, she doesn’t get many calls so I was curious. “Who were you talking to?” I asked.
“I was talking to your ...

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When Fantasies Come True

October 19, 2015
I’ve always had a rich fantasy life. I can go toe to toe with Walter Mitty when it comes to possessing a powerful imagination. I’ve closed my eyes and ridden magic carpets, slayed dragons, played rock music in front of thousands of screaming fans (I don’t even sing in the shower) and traveled back in time to important moments in history, like Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. ...

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Free Is A Terrible Price

October 16, 2015
During Tuesday’s Democratic debate, socialist lion Bernie Sanders differed from Hillary Clinton by stating college tuition in America should be free. Hillary believes tuition should be much less expensive but not free. I admire Bernie Sanders as a man of integrity and champion of the middle class, but on this issue I agree with Hillary. In my opinion, people don’t value something that’s obtained ...

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October 14, 2015
I never knew either of my grandfathers. Dad’s father died early in a car accident, and Mom’s father passed away when she was only nine. My grandmother remarried before I was born, and her husband was the only grandfather I ever knew.
Grandpa was a gruff old bulldog, but we became close when I was small. My brother and I would often ...

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Stephen Hayes
(a.k.a. Chubby Chatterbox)
has been published!


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