In this serialized year-long 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. Abe has rented a fishing boat for the Derby, knowing that Moby is also fishing. After his crew (i.e., his nursery employees) prevented him from ramming into Moby’s boat, he went off last week by himself with the intention of doing it again.
Sorry it’s taken me all week to get back to you about the catastrophe last week. It all seems so long-ago now, so unreal, especially since I wasn’t there for the worst of it.
Uncle Abe was out on his boat, near Richard Moby, and after shadowing Broadway II all day on the water, waiting for the perfect moment, he really was foolish enough to go after Moby: he literally tried to drive his boat into Moby’s, thinking (I suppose) that he would break it in half or something, I don’t know.
According to the report made to the Coast Guard by both Moby and another boat that was in the area, here’s what happened:
Abe saw Moby’s boat, Broadway II, but he did not see what was on the other side of it, which was: one of those honkin’ big navigational buoys. Buoys — anything that floats, really — are attractive to fish because it gives them nice safe places to hide. Maybe Broadway II was so big that it blocked Abe’s view of what was beyond it; maybe the sun was in his eyes; maybe he just wasn’t interested in looking beyond his immediate prey (most likely, says me). In any case, Abe suddenly throttled up to and bombed toward Broadway II, but Moby’s pilot has quick reflexes and apparently the boat does too; she got out of the way like a horse shying at a crow, and Abe ploughed right in to the buoy without even knowing it was there.
Honestly, we all had a hard time not laughing as we were informed about the geometry of it — thank God Abe wasn’t hurt, but his rented boat was totaled. Apparently he had leapt off the stern just before impact-with-what-he-thought-would-be-Moby, and began to swim away (he at least had the presence of mind to wear a life-jacket).
There was no big dramatic explosion, which I’m sure disappointed him. Then he realized that his boat had not, in fact, hit Moby’s boat, but just a buoy. This so enraged him that he stopped swimming and, bobbing in the water, began shaking both fists in Moby’s direction and cursing him unintelligibly. I cannot tell you the pain it causes me to describe my uncle’s total lack of dignity, but most of the pain, I confess, comes from repressing laughter. (Of course, if he’d been hurt, I’d be doubled over with grief and guilt and fury now — most of my amusement is relief worn garishly.)
Anyhow, in a nutshell: Abe was arrested for reckless endangerment but Moby declined to press charges, and there is some confusion about who would press charges on behalf of the buoy (which was remarkably unharmed). He’d insured the rental boat to the teeth (what a surprise) so he was alright there, too. So he got off pretty much scot-free, but of course he didn’t learn his lesson — he tried to rent a second boat. The Marina would not rent to him. Word gets around — nobody would rent to him.
So he decided to “borrow” his friend Mike’s boat Time Bandit, without bothering Mike by telling him ... but Mott somehow intuited this, rowed out to Time Bandit at its mooring after dark, and lay in wait for Abe to show up. The next morning they both appeared at Pequot with various bruises and three black eyes between them, but nothing was ever said. (Quincas really, really wanted to say something though, I could tell ...)
Speaking of Quincas: I wish I knew how old he is. He could just as easily be 25 as 45. I love the Longsuffering-Three-Musketeers thing we’ve got going on with Mott (the one nice development to come out of Abe’s high jinks) but sometimes I wonder if Quincas is actually flirting with me and I’m just too dense to realize it. As the days grow shorter and the Island finally finds its off-season groove, I find myself wanting to know if he thinks he’s goofin’ with an auntie-figure or if he’s, y’know, contemplating how to keep warm over the winter. Because I have to admit it, he’s pretty cute. Cute enough that I think I’m going to take Portuguese lessons, even if my destiny is to be merely Tia Becca.
And on that wistful, spinsterish note . . . .
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 Jan Hatchard at 508-693-7900, extension 374.
Vineyard novelist Nicole Galland’s critically-acclaimed works include Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. Visit her Web site, nicolegalland.com.