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 has a paranoid hatred of Richard Moby, the chief executive 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 have done nothing to dissuade him. Last week, while in the hospital being treated for a broken leg, Abe shot a gun at one of his employees’ heads, but luckily, he missed.
I’m hugely relieved to report an absence of Abe Antics over the past week. The shooting episode freaked him out almost as much as it freaked out Mott. Mott actually threatened to quit — there was a position available at South Mountain, which has a landscaping philosophy similar to, but more ambitious than, Pequot’s. He’d be a great fit there, and if I were only thinking about Mott’s well-being, I’d have dragged him bodily into John Abrahm’s office myself.
But I was really grateful when he tempered his position a little, and agreed to stay on as Pequot’s general manager — so long as Abe would see a therapist or take some anger-management classes, or at least, as Mott concluded in his calm understated way, “just take care of business for a change, would you, Abe?”
So now we’re taking care of business. It’s all hands on deck, and many of Quincas’s Brazilian friends are getting day-labor gigs from us, too. Although Pequot is about the Ye-Olden-Days low-maintenance simplicity, there’s a lot of big houses that need our help to “close up” their yards and grounds for the season. So I’ve been raking a lot of leaves; I lack the upper-body strength for the hard physical labor, plus I lack the smarts to oversee and make decisions about how certain plants get over-wintered. So it’s the rake, the rake, the rake for me. (But you should see my triceps! Why do people pay to go to a gym to get exercise, and then also pay other people to do the physical labor around their house for them? Oh, my goodness, I’m starting to sound like Quincas! Giggle, giggle.)
If you’re curious to know what the hospital is doing about Abe shooting a gun in an ICU room, well ... don’t be. Things have a way to getting, um, soothed over in a small community. Maybe “paved over” would be a better word. People have a bad habit of not pressing charges against my uncle, when really, everybody would be much better off if he was held accountable for his actions for a change. (I ascribe this to the fact that we are a pretty alcoholic community, here on the rock, and those who do not drink are pretty enabling of others’ drinking, and so goes the whole MO of society. In other words, Martha’s Vineyard at large is enabling Abe to be a nutcase.) Mott wouldn’t press charges, the Town Garden folks (the ones Abe had actually been trying to hit) wouldn’t either; further, Mott convinced the hospital staff that Abe was delirious while under the influence of painkillers. Or something like that. When I realized he was actually trying to protect the man who nearly shot him in the head, I left. I needed some air.
However, all things being said: Abe is calmer (really, this time ... no, I mean it, really), and we are attending to business, and both of these are Very Good Things. It’s actually been a great week. A little nippy to be outside, and sometimes damp, and sometimes windy ... but I like working side-by-side with Quincas. He has such an infectious grin.
I still have no idea how old he is, if I’m supposed to take his attention as flirtation or just friendly familiarity, but you know what? I hardly care. I just really like hanging out with him. He invited me to spend Thanksgiving with him — I can’t even imagine how the Brazilians celebrate it, and I don’t know if he meant the two of us alone or if he has family here, or maybe roommates ... no idea.
I spend all day every day with the fellow and hardly know a thing about him. Oh, my gosh, I’ve just written an entire paragraph about him. Okay, so obviously I need to look at that. Maybe learn a little more about him.
But it won’t be next Thursday. Abe’s grown kids are coming back to the Island to celebrate Thanksgiving with him. It’s the first major holiday since he and Gwen split (or more precisely, since Gwen dumped him); I don’t know how the decision was made, but all three of their sons are all coming home to the Island to be with him.
Doesn’t that sound nice? But they’re all much closer to their mother, so I’m a little suspect about what it means that they’re descending on their father en masse. Either somebody’s been telling them how nutso he is, and they’re planning an intervention (to borrow again from the AA) or they have something to tell Abe that each of them is scared to say alone. Like maybe something about their mother? And another man? Named Richard Moby? Just guessing, but might as well plan for the worst ...
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.