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. His staff includes Mott, the big-brotherly general manager, and Quincas, a cute Brazilian. 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 failures (one of which recently resulted in his breaking his leg) has done nothing to dissuade him. Meanwhile, Becca has taken a liking to Quincas, who has recently been ill.

Dear P:

Okay, okay, okay, so you need an explanation for these past few weeks, I understand that, and I’m sorry. It’s so convoluted and weird I’ll just lay it out as plainly as possible.

Quincas got very sick two weeks ago. Mott took him — literally, took him, against his will, out of his house, and went to a walk-in clinic where he was diagnosed as having bacterial Labyrinthitis that was teetering toward meningitis (you really don’t want to hear the details).

There were two things I couldn’t make sense of: first, Quincas was terrified of being found out by “the authorities” (he’s obviously an illegal — but that alone is not enough to get him deported); and second, Mott did not bring him back home after the clinic, even though there were a bunch of adoring beautiful women ready to look after him. (Not that I was jealous or anything.)

I can hear you going, “Say what?” about not-deporting-illegals, but it’s true: just being here illegally is not enough to get you into trouble. You have to get in trouble for something else, and then, if it turns out you’re illegal, you’re suddenly in more trouble.

So here is the thing Mott knew that I didn’t: happy-go-lucky Quincas, who has never once misbehaved since I’ve known him (that is, if you don’t count driving like a maniac ... or power-hugging Richard Moby ... or breaking into Sammy Enderby’s house with Abe in the middle of the night ... well, okay, just ignore this parenthetical comment) ... happy-go-lucky Quincas got into trouble about three years ago. It was something idiotic and brutish, like a drunken brawl with switchblades, which is so hard to imagine, but that’s what Mott heard. Quincas was arrested and given a month to “arrange his affairs” and leave the country ... but he didn’t.

He went AWOL, left his old job, his old place of residence; got the job at Pequot (Abe didn’t ask questions), moved in with some new friends. Eventually, the friends brought their wives from Brazil. Quincas’s apparent “harem” was actually the wives of all the other men in the house. (Not that I was jealous or anything.)

So Quincas was afraid of becoming traceable again, by entering “the system” to get medical help. Worse, at the clinic, he got nervous because the cop who had arrested him three years back was there, giving him funny looks. He became convinced that the cop was going to get his address from the clinic, and so he decided he couldn’t go back there again — ever.

So Mott took Quincas home to Mott’s own place (we sent word to his housemates that he would be fine), and we took turns caring for him for a day or two. Then Abe got wind of what was happening, and insisted we bring him over there (Mott lives in a two-room cabin he built himself in West Tisbury in the 70s; Abe lives in a nice old house down-Island.) I was voted Chief Nurse, which suited me fine, but Quincas was appalled (“He likes you, and he’s vomiting in front of you,” Mott explained, “Do you see the problem?”)

Anyhow, he’s better now, he’s still a little feeble but he’s on his feet, has his balance back, and has an appetite again. I took him shopping today, so he could make Christmas cards. We went to Educomp and he was beside himself with delight; he bought a dozen different kinds of writing implements, and then a dozen different kinds of writing surfaces — paper, card stock, dry-erase board, chalkboards — and back at Abe’s he entertained himself all afternoon. He made Mott a huge chalkboard “card” that proclaimed, in neon-orange letters, “Thank you for saving my life! Sorry I was so stupid! Merry Christmas!” in English and Portuguese.

Now that Quincas is better, Mott is trying to convince him it’s safe to go back to his house. Honestly I think Abe has liked having other people around, but his sons are coming next week for Christmas and there won’t be room.

Alright, I better get going — time to cash my paycheck and spend it all on Christmas gifts. I am a proud client of the Edgartown National Bank, which is soooo local (I hope) that when Bernard Madoff with the rest of America’s savings (rimshot!) he didn’t touch mine. Let’s here it for the hometown businesses!


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,