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 five other ones. The novel is usually told from the first-person perspective of Becca. But not this week.
April 24, 2009
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
A Concerned Citizen and Business Owner
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Dear Mr. President:
Rumor has it that you and your family are coming to Martha’s Vineyard at some point this summer. On behalf of the residents of the Vineyard, let me express our most heartfelt mixed feelings about this. On the one hand we appreciate the economic boost we are going to receive (a la Clintonmania) as a side-benefit, but on the other hand it’s going to be a real pain in the ass dealing with the extra traffic, security details, etc. I’d ask you to try to be considerate of us but I know it’s out of your hands. However, I cannot guarantee the actions of my fellow Islanders if you let Bo run around without a leash in Vineyard Haven. On the other hand, you can watch the Oak Bluffs fireworks from various vantage points without inconveniencing any of us at all.
Mr. President, I shall now dispense with these opening convivialities, and come to the meat of my message. I have watched with hope, often even admiration, as you struggle to come to terms with a very difficult economic situation. I would be lying to pretend I understand it entirely, which of course does not stop me, or any of my friends, from carrying on as if we understood it better than those annoying pundits in pink ties on CNBC. HOWEVER, I do understand one element of it, with greater profundity than any analyst or pundit could, and I would like to warmly invite you to use your visit to the Vineyard, even if it is a vacation, to make an example of wrong-doers.
We have a colossal miscreant here on Martha’s Vineyard, a most pernicious vulture who steals the livelihood of hardworking Americans because it amuses him to see how he can play with the power of his ill-gotten wealth. Like all mighty beings, he wears a false brow to the common world, and on first meeting him, you would not necessarily think that he is evil. But he is. His name is Richard Moby, his business is known as Broadway Nursery although here on the Vineyard he has transmogrified his identity and recently opened a landscaping business called Moby’s Vineyard Local, but that is only a front for his insidious monopolizing impulses. If I went into the details of his business plan, you would see that it bears a startling resemblance to what Wall Street has done to Main Street. And surely, just as he is bringing the nursery and landscape businesses of the Vineyard tumbling down, soon apparently unrelated professions will suffer similar losses. Who would have thought that a rose-gardener losing his acreage in Oak Bluffs could lead to the hospital being unable to finish its construction, or the MVRHS unable to honor its teachers’ pension plans? I know this sounds crazy, but I can prove it all to you, and I can prove it’s the singular fault of this one man, Mr. Richard Moby. I must ask you to agree to meet with me, or send a trusted agent in your place (Mrs. Clinton, for instance — my nephew served her ice cream one summer when she was the First Lady, so we already have a family connection). I guarantee that you will witness this evildoer in action in such a way that his flagrant abuse of power cannot go without notice. I am certain his behavior will offer immediate grounds for arrest and a hearing.
By bringing him to justice, you will make an example to all the other selfish CEOs and scofflaws out there who do not honor the American way of life, with its respect for small businesses, community and individuality. I ask nothing for my efforts, just the satisfaction of knowing that I have contributed to American justice in action.
I dare not use my name in this letter, as Mr. Moby has spies everywhere and I am greatly afraid I will suffer reprisals if he suspects that I am trying to help bring him to justice. Therefore please respond to this message via certified mail to the PO Box I have enclosed on the innermost envelope (there are three envelopes). Please let me know a more secure means of communicating with you, and offer me some assurance that it is indeed my honored Commander In Chief, rather than one of Moby’s agents, who is responding. At that point I will reveal myself.
(I realize I may sound a tad eccentric. This is a typical New England trait, and not particular to me or my circumstances.)
As a professional botanist, I am a huge proponent of Earth Day. I hope you enjoyed your observation of it, and kudos for planting a vegetable garden at the White House!
I await your response quite anxiously.
Name Withheld For Reasons Stated Above.
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 mor e 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.