In this yearlong serialized novel set on the Vineyard in real time, a native islander (“Call me Becca”) returns home after two decades to help her eccentric Uncle Abe keep his landscaping business, Pequot, afloat. Abe has a paranoid hatred of Richard Moby, the chief executive officer of an off-Island wholesale nursery, Broadway. Convinced that Moby wants to destroy Abe personally, and all Island-based landscaping and nursery businesses generally, Abe is obsessed with taking down Moby. A series of increasingly disastrous failures (one of which recently resulted in his breaking his leg) has done nothing to dissuade him. To add insult to injury, Abe has recently learned that his ex-wife Gwen is now engaged to marry Moby.
’Twas the morning of Christmas, when all through Abe’s house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The night before, though, there had been quite a fracas
Which ended in fisticuffs out in the muckus.
But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s review
All the craziness which, that night, was on view.
Abe’s sons were home visiting, each with his honey,
And also some grandkids, whose names all were quite funny.
Dinner was eaten — a marvelous feast —
While the warmish wet wind shifted round to the east.
Then the grandkids went to nestle snug in guest beds,
Where visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
The adults gathered round the old pot-bellied stove
Enjoying the eggnog, a liquor-filled trove.
When out in the drive there arose such a clatter,
We sprang from our chairs to see what was the matter.
Away to the front hall we all watched Abe soar,
Where he grabbed his revolver, and opened the door.
Then, what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a vintage Mercedes, the color of beer.
The driver, familiar, was thin-lipped and pale;
His complexion resembled that of a snail.
My heart skipped, then fluttered; it felt all aeroby
As I recognized: this was the dread Richard Moby.
More rapid than eagles Abe from the house came,
He whistled, and shouted, called Moby bad names.
“You tyrant! You liar! You corporate dreamer!
You seducer of innocents! Greedmonger-schemer!”
He threw down his gun, and held up his fists.
“Come take me on, with your girly-limp wrists!”
Before we could stop him, he’d leapt to the lawn
And attacked Richard Moby with his lanky brawn.
But Moby back into the Mercedes flew,
Perhaps wishing he’d brought his bodyguard-crew.
“Now Abe!” he shouted through the closed tinted glass,
“There’s really no need to behave like an ass!
You asked me to come here — in fact, you quite pressed.
Is this how you treat all your invited guests?”
At that, Abe stepped backwards, and held up a palm.
“Forgive me, friend Richard, I quite lost my calm.
If you would just care to step into my house
I promise I will not treat you like a louse.”
We retreated, and were all just turning around,
When through the door, Richard Moby came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And frankly he seemed like a bit of a snoot.
A bundle of rings bedecked all his fingers;
He looked like a low-rent-ish opera singer.
His eyes, they were shark-like. His legs, they were short,
His cheeks like a dead man’s, his nose like a wart.
His lipless mouth was drawn tight as a line,
And he looked like he’d just drunk a bucket of brine.
Despite his tough-rich-guy look, he had quite a belly
That shook when he walked like a bowlful of jelly.
He was at the least quite absurdly audacious
But despite his appearance, we tried to be gracious.
He is, after all, Aunt Gwen’s new intended
(Which suggested Gwen’s judgment has become quite demented).
“So,” said uncle Abe, as he offered a chair,
And sat beside Moby as if with no care,
“I understand you and ol’ Gwen are to marry.
I’ve been there myself, and I warn you: be wary . . .”
Before he could further this backhanded slop,
His sons (Gwen’s sons also) leapt on their pop,
And threatened him with all sorts of radical pain
If he didn’t agree to rescind and refrain.
By now all the grandkids, awake on the stairs,
Were distressed by the obvious lack of good airs
Between their grandpa and their step-gramp-to-be.
The whole thing did not feel at all Christmasy.
So finally Abe’s sons — Ralph, Waldo and Emerson —
Suggested that Moby remove his unwanted person
And come ’round some other time, not Christmas Eve,
To sort out the Moby-and-Abraham beef.
Giving a nod, from his chair Moby rose;
He sprang to door, which had never been closed,
And in his Mercedes he flew down the drive,
Like an exiled bee from a hostile hive.
But we heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
(Yeah, right, we all said to each other.)
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. 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.