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 is obsessed with “taking down” Moby. A series of increasingly disastrous direct attacks last year did nothing to dissuade Abe; he changed tactics to a “smear campaign” against Moby, but has recently given up on that, too. Becca and other Pequot staff members have seen no evidence that Abe’s perception of Moby has a shred of reason.

Dear P:

OH. MY. GOD. I cannot believe what I am about to write.

Okay. Here goes:

Abe has been right about Richard Moby all this time.

No, I have not been breaking into Stu’s marijuana stash. Listen to this:

There is (or was) a business here on the Island, called Delight of Dirt. They hadn’t even been on Abe’s radar; they were one of the few businesses who had not been subjected to Abe’s diatribes over the past eight or nine months. It was just a couple of guys with some cool equipment who figured out a way to get paid for ripping people’s property up (with cool equipment) and then putting it back together (with some other cool equipment) in a more aesthetically-pleasing manner. They were the front-end of a lot of large landscaping projects over the past decade or so. Usually, when they were done, the next step would be to call in Pequot — or the Cherry Bomb (remember him?) or Sammy Enderby (the one whose office Abe was breaking into when he broke his leg) or the Bachelor family or Rachel the Gardener — to do the actual planting and ongoing site work.

We hadn’t heard from Delight of Dirt in ages, so we assumed their business was down, or the folks who hired them wanted a look other than the traditional one Pequot goes for.

Well, it but it turns out that no, actually Richard Moby had oozed his way into their good graces, and convinced them to subcontract the “finish work” on their projects to his Broadway Nursery team. So for the past six months or so, Moby has been quietly establishing Broadway (which isn’t really a landscaping company — yet) as a landscaping company on the Island. He “donated” a lot of advertising money to the Delight of Dirt guys, and their business immediately took off, despite the recession. Somehow, we managed to miss this development entirely; we were all preoccupied with Abe’s preoccupation about things Moby was NOT actually doing, and so we missed, completely, what Moby WAS actually doing.

SO: Moby gets the Dirt guys rolling in dough, and then convinces them that if they’ll just let him become the chief operating officer of their company (he had to explain to them the concept of a COO, and I doubt he explained it entirely honestly), the good times will keep going even if the entire world economy collapses. They agree, they sign some papers without checking with any lawyers because, y’know, lawyers cost money and this Rich Moby dude, he seems really cool ... and they legally sign their business over to him.

And then he fired them.

That’s the nutshell version of the story, which we learned yesterday when they showed up at Pequot, seeking work and advice. They came to us because they’d heard (too late) that Abe was warning everyone about Richard Moby, and so they were thinking they could get in on the Moby-bashing with him.

I thought they’d be gold to Abe, since Abe has been seeking just this sort of evidence-of-Moby’s-evilness for nearly a year, to the point of inventing examples of it. But Abe has now moved into “stealth bomber” mode, and does not wish to be burdened with the inconvenience of co-conspirators, none of whom are as intelligent or hell-bent for vengeance as he is.

So he took in their story with rapt attention, hawk-eyed; he asked questions and even took notes; but when their tale of woe was over, he was done with them. He would not hire them; he would not buy from them the excavation equipment they still own privately; he would not even help them with a petition to the Better Business Bureau or the SBA or whichever group it was they wanted to approach. “Those places will just chastise them,” Abe explained impatiently. “I want to destroy them.”

“So do we!” protested one of the guys from Delight of Dirt.

“The best way to accomplish that is just stay out of the way and let me do it on my own,” Abe replied, and then dismissed them.

Once they had left, looking dejected, he smiled at all of us, his loyal staff. The expression was beatific. And mysterious. And extremely unnerving.

In other news, spring seems to be sniffing around, cautious and tentative.



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Vineyard novelist Nicole Galland’s critically-acclaimed works include Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade. Visit her Web site,