Food Truck Hero ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes Part 36

“You would do it for me,” he mumbled.

“Yes, I would. Come in and meet my family.”

Hesitantly, Jake walked into the living room with me. Rowena got up to meet him, taking his hands in hers.

“Good to see you, Jake. Thank you for coming.”

He gave her a faltering smile, which got stronger when she smiled at him.

“This is my good friend, Jake.” I made the introductions. When I got to my father, I stumbled over his name.

To my father’s credit, he got up to shake Jake’s hand. “Harlan Doyle. Keir’s father.”

“Sir.” Jake stared, glanced at me and stared again.

There’s no denying Harlan is my parent. I look just like him, down to the cleft in my chin and dimple in my left cheek. Jake took all that in, evaluated it, and sat. Rowena poured him some coffee and offered him a roll, which he took.

“How do you know Keir?” Mom asked.

“I work with him sometimes, on the truck. We hang out, hammer a few beers from time to time, shoot the shit. We met at the food truck one day. It was freezing cold, and he offered me coffee and a place to sit inside. I was on the street at that point. With his help, I found a place to live, and have a few odd jobs. Your son is a good man, Mrs. Doyle.”

“Thank you, Jacob.” She sniffled, dabbing at her eyes.

“Did I say something wrong?” he appealed to Rowena.

“Not at all,” she replied with a soft, encouraging smile.

“No, dear. Your words touched my heart. Thank you.”

“My mama always said to tell the truth. I always try to do that. Don’t always succeed.” He smiled. “Is there anything I can help out with, Keir? We were going to clean the truck tomorrow, but I’d be happy to start on it now. It’s something I know how to do.”

“You know, I think it would feel good to do something,” Hannah said. “Keir, if you tell me what to do, I’d like to help.”

Surprised, I wasn’t sure what to say when all my sisters agreed to pitch in. Even my parents offered to lend a hand. Since there were a few big jobs I’d been putting off, I decided to accept. It would give us something positive to do, and keep our minds off our troubles for a while. Jake is a natural born mechanic, so he popped the hood while I got out buckets, mops, soap and so on.

“You know,” Jake said from under the hood. “It was a really good idea we had a while back, to go green with the motor.”

“Green?” my father said, sidling up beside us.

“We converted to a motor that uses the old cooking oil from the fryer,” I said. “Jake set up a refining system in the shed, and I collect the used oil from the other trucks once a week. I can use regular gas if I have to, or a blend, mostly it runs on cooking oil.”

“What a good idea. How did you learn to do that?”

Jake scratched his head. “It just came to me. Keir and I got the parts at the salvage yard, and I built it.” He shrugged like it was no big deal.

“Nothing short of amazing,” Harlan replied, looking over the motor. “This is nearly as spotless as the kitchen.” He sounded so impressed, I stopped what I was doing and stared at him. “Things run better when they’re well maintained.”

“This is my life,” I replied quietly. “Gotta keep it going.”

“Make a good living with it?”

“Yeah. I have my regulars, get some street traffic. If I’m needing extra, I hit up the club scene Friday and Saturday, and sell water and snacks. They charge ten bucks, or more, for a water inside the club, so the kids come out and get it from me for a dollar.”

“Ten bucks for water?” my father was appalled.

“Some charge nearly twenty,” Jake said. “He can park across the street, so he isn’t in their zone, and sell. Since Keir has a valid vendor’s license, the cops leave him alone.”

“A couple clubs ran me off, but I noticed that not only had they jacked their prices, their bouncer and doorman were dealing. They called the cops on me, and they got arrested for dealing and the clubs got closed.”

“Never f**k with a Doyle,” my father said.

Jake laughed. “You sound like Keir.”

“Or he sounds like me,” my father replied with a chuckle.

“Yeah, that.”

Once we’d gone over the engine, it was time to drain the cooking oil into plastic kegs. Dad helped Jake and me with that. Randy offered, but it’s really a job for two. Three was pushing it, but Harlan insisted. That accomplished, we took it to the shed, where Jake happily walked Dad through the process. I went back to check on the others. I found that Suzette had arrived sometime during my absence. Her pregnant self was sitting in a chair, directing in an imperious tone.

Every pot and pan was washed and gleaming. Storage containers, shelves, cupboards, had been scrubbed, dried and replaced. Mom was working on the grill, scraping off the carbon buildup. Maria and Rowena were on the griddle. The others were cleaning windows, scrubbing the tires, and going after the awning with brushes and mildew killing soap. My girl had never been cleaner. Not that she’s ever really dirty, but this was special.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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