In this year-long 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 CEO of an off-Island wholesale nursery, Broadway. Convinced that Moby wants to destroy Abe personally, and all Island-based landscaping/nursery businesses generally, Abe is obsessed with “taking down” Moby. A series of increasingly disastrous direct attacks over many months did nothing to dissuade him, so he recently changed tactics and is now attempting a smear campaign against Moby. Mott is Pequot’s long-suffering general manager, who left a few weeks ago after almost poisoning Abe in a rage; Quincas is a Brazilian staffer at Pequot with whom Becca is enamored.
February 13, 2009
I have a date for Valentine’s Day! Hee hee hee heee. Guess who!
But before I get to the good stuff, I want to catch you up on some loose threads: Mott’s leave of absence, and Abe’s smear campaign against Moby, which now has a co-conspirator in the form of Rachel the Gardener.
We almost got Mott back. I get credit for that. Wednesday after work, I ran into him in the check-out line at the grocery story and the look on his face . . . oh, man. He’s worried about all us Pequotians, we’re like his nieces and nephews. And you can see in his expression: he feels guilty for abandoning ship, especially when just a few weeks before he’d roused all of us to a pact of fellowship, a promise not to cave in to Abe’s nut-headedness. I respect that he really believed he had to give himself a break, for his own mental health, and quite literally for Abe’s physical safety. But he’s given his heart and soul to Pequot for more than 20 years and I know he misses it.
We looked at each longer than two friends meeting up in a check-out line normally would, and finally he said, “Hey.”
“Hey,” I said.
“So, how is it?” he asked.
“It would be better with you there,” I said.
He nodded — neither arrogant nor sheepish, just acknowledging the truth of this.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Rachel the Gardener has joined forces with Abe, helping him come up with bogus information to try to spread about Moby.” (That was a gross exaggeration, since Rachel has not invented anything about Moby, she’s just been helping Abe bad-mouth him; I fibbed because I wanted Mott to feel like we were really desperate for his intervention.)
“You know, none of that bad-mouthing is getting out to regular folks,” Mott said. “I’ve had my ear to the ground. I haven’t ditched you all, I’m sort of . . .” now he did look sheepish. “Sort of running covert intelligence missions. Nobody gives a fart about Moby. The smear campaign is a waste of hot air. Folks are much more interested in what they can do that’s good, instead of bitching about what other people do that’s bad. Farmers and growers are just practical, that way.”
“Good!” I said. “Come back to Pequot and tell Abe that.”
“Has he even noticed I’m gone?” Mott asked — and there was a bitterness in his voice that was most un-Mott-like.
The question took me aback. I almost said, “Of course he does,” and then realized that, in fact, Abe had never once, in the past two weeks, asked where Mott was, or expressed any interest in seeing him. I hadn’t even noticed.
“That’s what I thought,” Mott said, seeing the hesitation on my face. “He’s gone, Becca, he’s really over the edge. Tell Rachel to stay away from him. She won’t get any good out of it, and her approval will just fuel him for more craziness.”
“You tell her that,” I begged. “I’ll work on Abe, you work on Rachel.”
“You work on Rachel, and that’ll affect Abe,” Mott countered. “And once that happens, I’ll come back. Because if she stops playing along with him, it will enrage him, and that’s when you’ll really need me.”
I smiled. “I like the way you think,” I said. “It’s a deal.” We shook on it.
So yesterday I went into work with my head full of ideas about how to talk sense into Rachel the Gardener. Quincas was already there — hanging out with him is the highlight of every single day of my life right now, I have to tell you, I am really so pathetic. I told him about the talk with Mott, and his face lit up. “Becca, I have the most best idea you ever heard!” he declared. “I will convince Rachel the Gardener not to be wasting her time with Abe, and then you and I will have dinner to celebrate.”
I know I blushed, but I also managed to sound skeptical when I asked, “How are you going to convince her?”
He grinned, and giggled, and I know that made me blush more. “I will tell her that I am a poor man from Brazil with only one wish in my heart, and she holds the key to making it come true. I will serenade her and beg her to make my dream possible, and I will be so adorable she cannot bear to say no.”
I was afraid to ask. “And . . . what’s the dream?”
“My dream is to take Becca out to dinner this very Saturday night, but Becca will only agree to this if Rachel promises to stay away from Abe. We will make our own little Vineyard soap opera. It will be better than Days of Our Lives. And she will agree, and I will take you out to dinner Saturday, and Sunday, perhaps she breaks her word and starts to talk to Abe again, but you know what?” he shrugged, “that’s life. But you can be happy because you had a date for Valentine’s Day.”
Well, of course I said yes . . .
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.