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Rated: E · Short Story · Food/Cooking · #2316949
Junior is happy enough to let Derice lead, but when it comes to chili...
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Word Count: 1742

Pismo Beach was a small community snuggled up against the California coast known for surfing and clam chowder. The weather was just right – not too cold and not too hot. The sun reminded Junior of his home in Jamaica. The residents were easy going and friendly. Junior and Derice stopped by the town on a massive laid back road trip exploring the California shoreline. One night turned into two, then a week. Derice met a girl named Barbie and decided to stay.

Well, Junior wanted to see more of California. He got as far as Morro Bay and turned around. It wasn’t fun without Derice. They’d been pals since growing up as cousins in Jamacia. Junior followed Derice everywhere and just when he had an opportunity to go out on his own, he realized if you didn’t have a buddy to share your adventures, what’s the point?

Derice was thrilled Junior came back. They hustled about, doing construction work in and around town and saved their pennies with the ultimate goal of opening up a Jamaican Jerk restaurant. After all, Derice could cook some jerk. His father cooked jerk and his grandfather cooked jerk. First, they lived in Derice’s car, then they bought a secondhand motor home with their pennies until Barbie’s parents let them stay in a run-down back house used for garden supplies on their property.

With a little construction know-how, determination, and Barbie’s vision, Derice and Junior had the back house looking like a modern-day studio apartment. Needless to say, that was enough to convince Barbie’s parents that Derice was an honest and well-intentioned boyfriend for their daughter and they got engaged.

Junior didn’t mind. His cousin and Barbie made a cute couple. He was just happy to be along for the ride. He couldn’t imagine life without Derice. Junior knew in his bones that one day he would meet “the one,” but he wasn’t in a rush. When they weren’t working on construction projects on the weekends, Derice was perfecting his jerk recipes in anticipation of their restaurant opening. Junior would take the leftovers and make chili to help save money. In fact, during the weekends, the tiny yard belonging to their back house was filled with the rich scents of garlic, allspice, and Scotch bonnet peppers – which required a special trip to San Luis Obispo or SLO as the natives would say. If Junior wasn’t in SLO for a construction project, he’d make a visit every Friday just to stock up on the peppers and the spices.

Junior began getting crazy with the leftovers of Derice’s recipes and threw them into a Dutch oven experimenting with his own chili endeavors. He threw in a dash of Scotch bonnets, Anaheim chilis and even serrano peppers, but he never cared to make wicked hot chili. Best to lay off the serranos he surmised.

Barbie’s parents nagged Derice and their daughter to set a wedding date, but Barbie stayed coy. “Derice wants to open up his restaurant first before we set a date.”

Junior just chuckled. Barbie’s parents wanted grandkids, but Derice wanted to be able to provide for his bride, and kept cooking in the backyard on the weekends perfecting his craft. Soon, the spices attracted a neighbor or two who couldn’t get enough of Derice’s wet marinated jerk pork. Derice kept blending spices and whipped up a mouthwatering chicken jerk dry rub. Even Barbie’s parents tried the jerk. Word of mouth started spreading about the small beach town and people would wander by hoping to get invited into the tiny yard to try the jerk. Barbie got inspired and started making sourdough, turning her parents’ kitchen upside down. It was a nice compliment to Derice’s jerk, but it made a mess.

Junior took the leftovers and kept making chili. It was cheap, and easy, and tasty, too, though no one really wanted to try his chili. Everyone wanted Derice’s jerk.

Finally, the day came when Derice’s jerk was the talk of the town. Barbie suggested they turn the RV into a food truck and “Derice’s Jamaican Jerk” was born.

Junior drove the truck. Barbie made sourdough when she wasn’t busy designing a logo and a marketing platform for “Derice’s Jamaican Jerk.”

They’d take the truck to the beach on the weekend and sell out. Derice’s jerk was a big hit. The money came rolling in. People would come all the way from Los Angeles and San Francisco just for Derice’s jerk.

Junior was happy for his cousin. He was doing something he loved, cooking, on the beach, with the sun in his face and wind in his hair, engaged to the girl he loved. Junior just kicked back. Life was good. Driving the food truck and running the cash register sure beat construction work. When he wasn’t busy making trips to SLO for Scotch bonnet peppers, he just made chili in his tiny yard with a spice or two from Derice’s kitchen. Derice tried Junior’s chili a couple of times and liked it, but his life revolved around jerk.

The money just kept pouring in. Derice got all of the attention. Junior didn’t mind. Derice and Barbie moved into an apartment overlooking Main Street. Junior stayed in the back house. Barbie’s parents didn’t seem to care. They even set him up on a couple of blind dates, and while they were nice girls, they didn’t have a passion for chili that he did.

April was just around the corner, and one sunny day on the beach, the mayor approached the window of the food truck.

“What will be, mah good man?” Junior asked.

“The jerk chicken wings, rice, and green beans.” The mayor smiled.

“D’ya wanna drink?”

“Sure - Cool Runnings.”

Junior wrote up the order. “That’ll be fifteen ninety-five.”

The mayor held up his credit card. “Say, the Taste of Pismo Festival is right around the corner. Is Derice going to enter?”

Junior tapped the mayor’s card on the Square and looked at Derice. “Da mayor wants to know if you’rah plannin’ on enterin’ the food festival.”

Derice slid over, a twinkle in his eye. “I hadn’t entered. What festival?”

“It’s the Tastes of Pismo Festival – right here on the beach. Only local restaurants participate. We set up a big tent for all the participants next to the pier. Foodies come from all over to sample the cuisine and pick their favorites. Your jerk is sure to win.”

“But I’mma just a food truck, not a restaurant,” Derice said.

“Food trucks are included.”

“Oh, well, then, we’ll enter, won’t we, Junior?” Derice patted Junior on the shoulder. “I couldn’t do it without you.”

“Sure, Derice,” Junior grinned.

“I’ll have Barbie fill out the paperwork,” said Derice.

Junior handed the mayor back his card and the mayor left.

“Junior, if I win this tournament, we can finally open up a real restaurant and Barbie and I canna’ set a date.”

“Ya’ don’t needa all that to set a date.”

“I wanna be able to provide for Barbie. She won’t be marrin’ no poor man.”

“Barbie loves you poor or not.”

Derice scoffed and went back to cooking.

That night when Junior got home, Barbie’s parents introduced him to Suzie, Barbie’s friend from San Diego. Junior smiled and made polite conversation, but after a bit, he excused himself so he could go eat.

“What are you having?” Suzie asked.


“I love chili,” Suzie gushed.

Junior’s eyes grew wide. “Really? I gots big chunks of chuck, pork, beans, peppers, onions and a lil’ bit a jerk.”

“Sounds delish.”

“C’Mon back, then.” Junior motioned to the back house. Barbie’s parents smiled. Junior served her up a bowl and Suzie asked for seconds. Junior knew right then and there she was someone special.

Finally, the day of the big festival came. Derice had entered his famous jerk chicken. There were five different clam chowders, wood fired pizzas, tacos and taquitos, and even a chili dish. The foodies descended on the festival, paid their fifty dollars to sample the various cuisines, and pick their favorites.

Derice and Junior watched from their food truck with Barbie and Suzie as the foodies came and went sampling all the items in the food area next to the pier. Derice made plans with his winnings. They would finally open a restaurant and he and Barbie would set a date to be married. Junior himself was finally thinking of upgrading his living quarters.

The food truck was swamped with local beachgoers. They put Suzie to work taking orders. Everyone gushed about the chicken jerk. All the locals thought Derice would win. A couple of people mentioned the chili which warmed Junior’s heart.

At five o’clock, they closed the competition. They mayor and his staff began to tally the votes. Derice closed down the food truck and all the local competitors gathered around the competition area next to the pier. The beach was packed with locals and foodies. The mayor took his place behind the podium and one of his staff handed him a card.

“Third places goes to Splash Café for their clam chowder!”

Oohs and ahhs filled the air.

The mayor looked down at his card. His mouth fell to the sand. “Second place goes to Derice’s Jamaican Jerk for his jerk chicken!”

Gasps of surprise filled the air.

Derice pointed a finger at his chest. His mouth fell to the pebbles. “What?”

“And first place is for Junior’s Big Beef and Pork Chili sponsored by Derice’s Jamaican Jerk food truck!”

Derice turned to look at Junior. “You entered your chili? You justa throw things in a pot!”

“Suzie said I should.” Junior grinned.

Loud clapping filled the air. The mayor motioned for all the winners to come up and get their ribbons.

“Don’ta worry, Man. Second place isn’t too shoddy. You can still open up a store and marry Barbie.” Junior paused. “And now you have award winning chili for the food truck.”

“Ummmm,” Derice shrugged his shoulders. “You my cousin and we’ve been through thick and thin – I didn’t expect to lose to you, but who better to lose to?”

They took their places next to the mayor who pinned the second place ribbon on Derice and the first place ribbon on Junior. All the locals where surprised. The Foodies were clapping with happiness for Junior.

Junior grinned. Life was good. He got the girl and the chili.

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