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 fears and detests 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 has been obsessed with “taking down” Moby. A series of disastrous attacks and an ineffectual “smear campaign” did nothing to dissuade Abe. Becca and other Pequot staff had seen no evidence that Abe’s perception of Moby had a shred of reason — until recently it was revealed that Moby has taken over one Island landscaping business and undercut 5 other ones. Quincas is a Pequot staffer Becca has recently become romantically entangled with; last week, he invited Abe and Becca to spend Easter with him.
So as you may have noticed, it was sunny on Easter Sunday, meaning that when Jesus was resurrected he saw his shadow and that mean six more weeks of recession.
It’s been a busy week here on Martha’s Vineyard — town meetings (I will spare you for now, but some time, let me tell you about drinking in Vineyard Haven), whiplash-fast ricochets of rumors regarding the First Family visiting or not visiting, with or without the Former First Family, with or without the new First Dog, with or without the Former First Dog . . . we run a little spare on conversational topics here in the winter.
And yes, it still feels like winter. Actually this past week has been beautiful, and today in particular is glorious, but I definitely have not gotten off the rock in far too long. This is the first time I’ve “wintered” here since high school and WOW — the winter never ends. I always knew that in my brain, but now I’m being reminded of it in my bones. I see TV clips of things happening right in your neck of the woods, NYC, and by golly, you have spring! When do we get spring? Everyone always grouses about February and March, but I think April is the hardest month to get through here — after all, February and March are SUPPOSED to be crappy, they are WINTER MONTHS, but April is NOT, and I want trees with leaves on them! These oaks we have, some of them slumber until nearly June! They don’t deserve to be considered real Yankees.
A childhood friend, who has never lived anywhere else, has a more positive attitude: he claims we actually have a longer spring than anywhere else, not a shorter one; it begins very early and then, very, very subtly (too subtly, in my humble opinion) it reveals itself bit by bit (one crocus at a time, I guess, according to this theory), as the Island gradually returns to life (because mud is considered a life form, I guess, according to this theory). I think you have to have never experienced any other kind of spring for this theory to work.
Sorry, I’ll stop grousing now; did I mention that we run a little spare on conversational topics this time of year? (“How ‘bout them taxes?” “How ‘bout that wind?” “How ‘bout that first ridiculous game at Fenway?”) So let me switch gears . . . .
Easter with Quincas and his household was wonderful, although I drank too much sangria and consequently had a wicked case of insomnia. Quincas is so delighted about the Obamas getting a Portuguese Water Dog you’d think HE was the one getting the puppy — he loves the idea of a native Portuguese-speaker living in the White House; he thinks it will be good for immigration reform. (I’m not entirely sure that he’s joking about that.)
Quincas and I are sort-of-officially-enough-of-a-couple-although-not-really that we planned our first off-Island trip together (if you’re not from here I cannot begin to explain the psychological weight of this). We chose as our destination the exotic locale of greater Boston (where — not to go back to the grousing or anything — rumor has it it’s 10 degrees warmer than here today). He’s wonderfully indulgent; the goal was to do things I haven’t been able to do in nearly a year — shop at Trader Joe’s; eat at an Indian restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, a Chinese restaurant; see a movie on a really big screen; go out dancing; even things that before returning here, I’d never actually do, like eat at a fast-food restaurant or walk through a mall . . . these suddenly seemed incredibly attractive.
But . . . .
Yes, of course there’s a “but.” Have you forgotten I came back here in the first place to deal with Uncle Abe? Did you really think I was going to get through a whole week without mentioning Uncle Abe? Ha! Silly you!
And silly me, for thinking I could actually escape for a bit. When I told Abe I was leaving, he was . . . well, he was just a little too happy about it. Remember, I’m the one keeping an eye on him at work, since he fired his long-time manager Mott; also, I’m still living in his spare bedroom. So I am sort of a chaperone for his sanity (sic). And the way his face lit up when I told him we were going away for a few days . . . he tried to pass it off as delight that Quincas and I were clearly progressing in our whatever-it-is, but . . . I don’t buy it. I just had a bad, bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“I don’t think we should go,” I told Quincas yesterday morning. “I’m worried about what he’ll do.”
Quincas frowned thoughtfully. I was afraid he was upset that I was cancelling the trip. But then: “I would be very disappointed,” he said at last, “if Abe did something very louco, and I wasn’t here to see it.” He grinned up at me. “Okay, let’s stay and hope he does something crazy so we can know it was worth it to stay!”
(Sometimes I think we must be from different planets.)
And sure enough, when I told Abe that we had canceled our plans at the last moment, he wasn’t disappointed — he was sullen.
Well good, I thought, that was obviously the right choice. I don’t know what I stopped you from doing, but boy am I glad I stopped you from doing it.
But how much longer can I put up with his nonsense? Really, something has got to give . . . .
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, or find her on Facebook.