In this year-long serialized novel set on the Vineyard in real time, a native Islander (“Call me Becca”) returns home after many years away, to help her unstable Uncle Abe keep his landscaping business, Pequot, afloat. Abe has a monomaniacal fear and loathing of Richard Moby, the CEO of an off-Island wholesaler, Broadway Nursery. Recently, Moby unscrupulously took over one Island landscaping business and undercut 5 others, thus re-invigorating Abe to try to “destroy” Moby. Moby’s most trusted staffer, Mott, quit a couple of months ago, to protest Abe’s vendetta-mentality .To further complicate matters, Moby is also engaged to Abe’s ex-wife, Gwen. Quincas, a Brazilian immigrant who works for Pequot (illegally), has been Becca’s love-interest. Last week, however, when Quincas and Becca disagreed about how best to keep Abe from further mischief, Quincas abruptly estranged himself from her.
I’m at rock bottom. Quincas stopped coming into work. So we’ve lost Quincas and also Mott from the staff, right now — the busiest, most bustling time of the year for landscapers. I’m going to be the buffest former copy editor in New England, just to take up the slack of Pequot losing both of them.
I thought Quincas was afraid I’d “sic the cops on him,” even accidentally. It’s a little ironic that while so many of his fellow countrymen are heading to Brazil, he’s more determined than ever to avoid ending up there. More ironic than that: he mostly wants to stay here to be with me, but in order to stay here safely, he’s avoiding me.
But it’s worse than that. Read on . . .
Now that we’re in the lovely month of May, some seasonal folks are starting to show up, including Ralph, Waldo and Emerson. They’re they sons of Abe and his ex, Gwen . . . and they’re about to become the stepsons of Richard Moby. I’m not a fan of Moby’s. You know that. I don’t think he’s evil, the way Abe does, but I don’t like how he’s conducted business here. The way he put the Delight of Dirt guys out of business was really awful; he took total advantage not only of their naiveté, but worse than that, their trust. His demeanor, his arrogance, his attitude — I haven’t even seen him since Christmas Eve, when Abe behaved far worse than Moby did (Abe had invited Moby over just to try to tell him what an awful wife Gwen would make) . . . but still I’m really clear that I don’t like the guy.
So it was a little galling when Ralph, Wally and Emerson showed up at Pequot today, and we proceeded to have this conversation:
Waldo: Hey Becca — beautiful weather this week, huh? (Note: Waldo is not the kind of guy who talks about weather.)
Me: We earned it after all that damned rain.
Ralph: Yeah, you guys had really lousy weather there for awhile. (Awkward pause) You know, that kind of weather, it can really bring out, y’know, difficult sides of people. Make people moody and stuff. (Note: While Ralph would happily talk about the weather 24-7, especially in regards to fishing, he is not the kind of guy who talks about emotions, feelings, etc.)
Me: Some people don’t need weather as an excuse to be jerks.
Waldo: (Awkward cough) We actually came because we want to talk to you about Dad and Mom and Rich Moby.
Ralph: Look, Bec, we’re not in the business, y’know? I mean, we don’t live here, we don’t really care what kind of professional rivalry they’ve got going on —
Me: Professional rivalry is not the term I’d —
Ralph: Look, Bec, didn’t I just say we don’t care? We only know the guy in one context, and that’s how he treats Mom. And he treats her really well. He really does. Maybe it’s hard for you to believe it, but he’s a total gentleman with her. And y’know, Dad never was.
Me: The Gwen I remember was way too evolved to go in for old-fashioned gender role-playing like “gentlemen” and “ladies.”
Emerson: That’s not what he means, Bec. And (with a warning look at Ralph), he’s not putting Dad down. But they fought like cats and dogs, Mom and Dad, because they were so similar.
Me: (Disbelieving stare) Similar?
Waldo: Okay, so we’re going to stop with the Monday morning quarterbacking on their marriage, but we all know it was rocky. And this, what’s going on with Rich? It’s great.
Me: (queasy) Oh.
Waldo: And look, you’re family, and he’s about to become family, and we want you to keep the door open for the possibility of maybe kind of being happy about being in the same family. Some day. Not now, I know that’s too weird. But please be willing to consider that there’s another side of him.
Me: (Skeptical face)
Ralph: (A tad defensively) There’s nothing wrong with giving somebody a second chance, y’know. After all, Abe’s favorite staffer has already given Rich a second chance, and it’s worked out great. They’re the best of buddies now and he loves working for Rich.
Me: (Horrified) Mott? Mott is working for Richard Moby?
Emerson: (After the three of them exchanged bemused looks) No. The little guy. Your buddy, the Brazilian. What’s his na —
Ralph: Yeah, didn’t you know? We thought you knew.
Me: Quincas is working for Richard Moby? My Quincas is working for RICHARD MOBY?
Waldo: Yeah. See the point we’re trying to make? Everyone can get along, if they just decide to.
Me: Excuse me, I need to sit down. In Chilmark. See you later.
. . . And I left. Words have no power to express what I am feeling right now, so I won’t try, but I’m sure you can imagine.
It’s your last chance to be a part of the Moby Rich Your Name Here campaign: any person or business donating $250 or more to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services can get a mention in the final chapter of Moby Rich. For more information, please contact Sterling Bishop at 508-693-7900.
Vineyard novelist Nicole Galland’s critically-acclaimed works include Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. Visit her Web site, nicolegalland.com, or find her on Facebook.