In this serialized novel set on the Vineyard in real time, a native Islander (“Call me Becca”) returns home after years in Manhattan to help her eccentric Uncle Abe keep his landscaping business, Pequot, afloat. Abe loathes Richard Moby, chief executive of the off-Island landscaping business Broadway. Abe is irrationally convinced that Moby wants to destroy Abe personally, and Island-based nursery businesses in general.
Good Lord, what a week. An hour of daylight lost, a Presidential election won (GO BARACK!), and I haven’t gotten around to telling you what happened that night at Sammy Enderby’s! Hard to believe that was only a week ago.
After Abe and Quincas got out of the car, I slid over the seat and snuck out of Quincas’s door, and followed in the dark as best I could. I had only been to this building a couple of times; Abe knew it pretty well, but I doubt Quincas had ever been here. The plan, as Quincas had explained it to me, was to try to jimmy open a window, step into the room onto the broad desk that was against the wall, then step down into the room, turn on flashlights, and start to scour through whatever papers they could find that might give Abe a hint as to what the trouble had been between Sammy Enderby and Richard Moby. Then Abe would anonymously send what he’d found to the papers, and/or the police (Quincas was a little vague about this part).
Now that might have all worked out fine, except for the part where Abe, without bothering to test the downstairs windows, found a stairway hugging the outside of the building and climbed up it (luckily, Quincas did not follow him). At the top, he turned on his flashlight and a small door was evident, the kind he’d have to stoop through to enter, probably leading to attic storage. Since he was looking for something of recent vintage, I don’t know why he’d be interested in the attic, but he opened the door anyhow and stepped inside.
I will not even try to describe the sound effects that followed. The short of it is: turns out that, for whatever reason, there was no attic floor, and so Abe stepped through the doorway and fell 15 feet in pitch blackness, landing quite hard upon the office into which he should have broken to start with. (The citified copy editor must be washing out of me at last; I can’t bother to figure out the correct grammar for that sentence.)
Quincas snapped on his own flashlight and ran for the window, which required no jimmying at all; it opened easily from the outside. I was on his heels, but when I saw the window was beside the front door, I tried the knob – and it opened. It wasn’t even locked. Quincas and I instinctively grabbed hands in the cold dark room, as he brushed his flashlight beam through the air looking for Abe.
“Boss, sir,” Quincas called out in a ferocious whisper, worriedly. We heard a groan, and Quincas turned the beam in that direction.
Abe was lying on his back, conscious, one leg twisted at a very wrong-looking angle under him. I swore under my breath as we both lunged toward him. He made a terrible, angry face as Quincas held the light to his face, and then he swatted the light away with enough strength that it left Quincas’s grip and flew across the room. That was a good sign, actually; he still had strength.
“Broke my leg,” he said through gritted teeth, as if it were somehow Quincas’s fault.
“Listen,” I said, grabbing Quincas’s arm before he could go to retrieve the flashlight. “You need to get out of here right now. I don’t want to know your green card status but I’ve got to call 911 and you should stay under the radar.”
He looked appalled. “I cannot leave you here alone,” he protested.
“Please,” I said. “I don’t want you involved, okay? It’s very simple, I have a cell phone, I will call the ambulance and they will get him to the hospital. Take your car and drive away now.” Abe groaned in pain; Quincas looked torn.
“It’s cowardly if I leave,” he argued.
“It’s prudent,” I corrected. He didn’t know that word. “Smart,” I tried. “In the big picture.”
“No,” he said. “You call the ambulance and then tell them that you called me to come here and keep you company until they arrived, because I was nearby and I am your friend.”
I could not resist that.
So we ended up in the hospital, where Abe was fussed over for a few days by two gorgeous young nurses named Leandra and Carina. He didn’t mind that. His leg was broken in two places; otherwise he survived the fall remarkably well. He’s home now, hobbling around, and much meeker. Hopefully this knocked some sense into him.
In case I forgot to mention it before: GO BARACK!
Be part of the Your Name Here campaign: any person or business donating $250 or more to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services can get a mention in Moby Rich. Please contact Jan Hatchard at 508-693-7900, extension 374.
Vineyard novelist Nicole Galland’s critically-acclaimed works include Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. Visit her Web site, nicolegalland.com, for more on Moby Rich.