In this serialized novel set on the Vineyard in real time, a native Islander (“Call me Becca”) returns home after years in Manhattan to help her eccentric Uncle Abe keep his landscaping business, Pequot, afloat. Abe loathes Richard Moby, chief of the off-Island landscaping business Broadway. He is irrationally convinced that Moby wants to destroy Abe personally, and Island-based nursery businesses in general.

Dear P:

Happy Thanksgiving! Did you know Martha’s Vineyard is the only community in North America where the indigenous people and the European newcomers have always co-existed without violent conflict?

And that’s about it for the good news here.

But just to keep you up to date ...

I celebrated Thanksgiving with family, which means Abe and his sons, my first cousins, whom I used to babysit in high school. Their names, oldest to youngest — I am not making this up — are Ralph, Waldo, and Emerson.

Emerson, Abe and I did most of the cooking — lots of yummy things that make my stomach hurt to think about now I’ve had too much of it all. The cooking part was lovely and homey and family-like, even with Ralph and Wally being lug-heads and giving each other wedgies all day. (Yep, all day. Oh, their namesake would be so proud of them.)

But then came dinner. The boys, as I suspected, had an ulterior motive for all coming together, and without their significant others or kids. This was a family powwow, with the emphasis on pow.

It went something like this:

Ralph: So dad, how’s bachelor life treating you?

Abe: I’m fine, Ralph.

Ralph: Yeah? You feel like you’ve let go of your anger and hostility toward Mom? That’s great.

(Here Abe brusquely denies ever having felt anger and hostility. Waldo — the designated “sensitive one” — says it makes sense that Abe would feel angry and hostile and hurt, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that. Abe furiously denies that he has ever felt the slightest anger toward “that appalling woman,” and Emerson snaps at him for bad-mouthing their mother.)

Abe: Well. I apologize for that. I suppose I was angry with her for some time. I assure you, I am no longer angry with her. I have far more productive outlets for my anger.

(Here I look around at the guys’ faces, trying to determine if they know about their father’s sociopathic hatred of a business competitor named Richard Moby. They look clueless. It occurs to me they don’t know how their father broke his leg. So yes, they are clueless.)

Ralph: Well that’s great you’re not still, you know, holding a grudge, or anything.

Abe: I agree.

Emerson: So you’ve really let go.

Abe: Absolutely.

Waldo: Well, that’s great Dad, that’s great. That makes us really happy.

(Awkward pause)

Ralph: So you could handle it if Mom moved on with her life and, you know —

Abe: And what, dated somebody else? She’s already done that, boys, I’m way ahead of you. She had a ridiculous rebound fling this summer, and showed truly dreadful taste in her choice, but she’s a sensible woman and I’m sure she’s moved on. I hope she finds someone deserving of her many charms. I don’t mean to belittle her, but really I have had other things to take up my energy and attention.

(Awkward pause)

Emerson: Well, that’s good to hear, Dad.

Waldo: Yeah.

Ralph: Great.

(Awkward pause)

(Awkward pause)

(Awkward pause. Ralph helps himself to his fourth helping of peas.)

Ralph: Good peas.

(Awkward pause)

Me: Oh my God, would you just please SAY it already?!

All three: Say what? What are you talking about? (etc.)

Me: Whatever you came all the way here together to say. You’re in the middle of saying it, would you just finish saying it so he can start breaking crockery already?

Abe: Rebecca, how dare you use that tone of voice with me.

Me: I’m not using it with you. I’m using it with my cousins. I used to change their diapers, Abe, I can say whatever I want to them. Come on, guys, out with it. If it’s what I think it is, his reaction is going to be even worse than you can possibly imagine. He’s going to break things and make a mess, and I’ll have to clean it up, and I’d like to get to bed before midnight, so would you please just say it so we can get it all over with?

(The three of them stare at me and at each other, dumbfounded.)

Ralph: Mom’s engaged.

(Tense pause. They all look at Abe. He is calm.)

Abe: How interesting. Good for her. Anyone I know?

Ralph: Guy named Richard Moby —


...It took me about an hour to get all the mashed potatoes out of the tongue-and-groove joinery work in Abe’s kitchen, a job made more unpleasant by the cold air coming in from the several broken windows. The guys would have helped but they were trying to talk their father out of taking the safety off his rifle.

I just love family holidays. How was yours?


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. 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,, for more on Moby Rich.