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 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 had seen no evidence that Abe’s perception of Moby has a shred of reason – until last week, when it was revealed that Moby has taken over an Island landscaping business.

Dear P:

This past week has been dizzying. It’s about as far from a Silent Spring as you can imagine; it is, very nearly, a screaming spring. First of all, there is SO much work to do, and not enough hands to do it. Harp is taking time off to observe the passing of the phenomenal Luther Madison, the tribe’s medicine man (and my very first bus driver!); Dag and Fran are both out sick, worn down by the harsh winter and the stress of having a crazy boss. Mott is still banished from Pequot.

I hardly ever see Quincas because he’s running all over the Island cleaning the lawns and the planting beds for our long-term clients (when the forsythia blooms, it’s time to hop to it), and I’ve been helping Stu start the early stuff. Stu’s in a bit of a state because the bare root trees we ordered last fall haven’t come yet. Knowing as we do now that Richard Moby is elbowing in on the Island landscaping scene, it’s no longer far-fetched to think he might have something to do with this.

For it turns out that Moby’s ambition is not limited to the landscaping company he took over by means a la weasel last week. Oh, no. His reach goes considerably farther than that.

Consider Becca’s weekly Pequot journal:

MONDAY: Quincas off-site doing yard work. Abe brooding in office. With Stu, start peas in greenhouse. No bare root trees arrive. Rachel the Gardener comes to visit; just a few months ago, she was Abe’s lieutenant in the smear campaign against Moby but today she arrives in tears to say that her five most reliable clients have abandoned her in favor of Moby’s on-Island landscaping company (formerly Delight of Dirt, now Moby’s Vineyard Local). Moby is offering pre-fab “customizable” garden designs at cheap prices — it’s sort of the landscaping equivalent of modular housing.

TUESDAY: Quincas off-site doing yard work. Abe brooding in office. With Stu, start broccoli in greenhouse. No bare root trees. Town Gardens and the Cherry Bomb both drop by, separately, to announce they have each just lost a number of long-time clients to Moby. He’s moving fast.

WEDNESDAY: Quincas off-site doing yard work. Abe brooding in office. With Stu, start lettuce in greenhouse. No bare root trees. Stu tokes up more than usual to keep anxiety at bay. Mr. Bouton, the incompetent rose-gardener from next door, comes to visit. He’s the one Stu and Fran almost tricked into selling his land to Pequot for a song, given the value of the vast quantities of stone he has. He comes to tell us — surprise! — he has sold it to Mr. Richard Moby, who offered him twice as much as we did (which is still about a tenth of its worth). Stu smokes more pot.

THURSDAY: Quincas off-site doing yard work. Abe brooding in office. With Stu, start cabbage in greenhouse. Still no bareroots. The Bachelors stop by. You probably don’t remember them because they made such a brief appearance in our melodrama — a very happy family business that expressed zero interest in Abe’s bloodlust against Moby, when he was starting his smear campaign. They have come to tell us that they, too, have lost clients to Moby. They would like to join Abe’s crusade. Abe says it’s too late, his crusade is a one-man-show now.

FRIDAY: Quincas off-site doing yard work. Abe brooding in office. With Stu, start pansies in greenhouse. STILL no bare roots, and the wholesaler has failed to call back all week. Midday: Sammy Enderby comes to visit. Sammy’s the one who has actually suffered physical attack by Moby, who broke his arm during an altercation last summer. Sammy would never tell Abe what the argument was about, so Abe tried to sneak into Sammy’s office to find out, and broke his leg in the process. Today, having lost a new client to Moby’s Vineyard Local, and hearing about the fate of his fellow landscapers, he comes to confess all to Abe:

Before Moby hoodwinked the Delight of Dirt guys, he tried to hoodwink Sammy. Different details, of course, but same basic procedure. Except that Sammy (a brighter bulb than the D of D guys) had a lawyer look over the contract first, was enlightened as to Moby’s nefarious purposes, and went to confront him about them. He realizes now he should have put out the alarm about Moby, but Moby had threatened to rough him up more (and worse, hurt his kids) if Sammy told anyone else what had been going on between them, so Sammy backed way off.

So that’s about a full roster, I think. Moby 6, Vineyard 1 — Abe.

Happy Spring!