And so here he is again, throwing up behind a Michelin-star restaurant at eleven o'clock at night, one hand on a dumpster to keep from falling over, bringing up very little but bile.
By the time he opens the shutters, it all feels sort of like a fever dream. By the time the sun comes up the next morning, he's almost forgotten about it.
And then his phone rings.
It's someone official-sounding, explaining that his loans are under the control of a new lender, and the new buyer is offering him the opportunity to re-negotiate the terms. They're offering him zero percent interest and a repayment schedule of "whatever", in slightly fancier words. He'll receive some paperwork which he can sign if he chooses.
No one mentions Mr. Peach at any point in this process.
He gets off the phone, and starts asking around about passionfruit.
It seems like the thing to do.
The first night, he sells out of everything on his menu before he really has a chance to wonder what the fuck is going on. He figures there’s some...event going on. Somewhere. That he didn’t know about.
He sleeps through all eight of his alarms the next day, exhausted, and then scrambles to get all his prep done on time and the truck parked in front of the...second day of massive lines, what the fuck. He doesn’t even have time to check Twitter.
He manages to ask somebody in line what the hell is happening between batches of crispy noodles.
He thanks oh-my-god-is-that-actually-the-mayor, hands him his creme brûlée, and returns to (aaaaaaaaaa) the rush.
When he collapses at home, afterwards, he goes looking for this review.
It's not hard to find.
The page, under the familiar header of a well-reputed restaurant guide, is in French, at first, and he has to click a button to change it to English. It describes his fine, locally-sourced produce; it draws an evocative picture of him wielding a blowtorch that, under the professional style, is more than a little sexy.
None of the praise is effusive. No superlatives make the page. It ends on a familiar, simple note: it's good.
It has nearly a million views.
He...guesses...he’d better hire somebody.
After he lies down for a second. Even more than he’s already lying down. Somehow.
He manages to tweet out a thank you for the review, and a call for interested prospective cash register monkeys to DM him, and (after screaming into his pillow for a minute) send a couple of emails to people who are better at money than him.
This is good! This is really good. Also it’s fucking terrifying.
He made a French critic a créme brûlée and he liked it.
A couple of days later, a familiar face reappears, well before he's technically "open."
He freezes mid-step with a funky IKEA floor lamp in both hands.
"Hello again. Business treating you well?"
He laughs and puts the lamp down.
“I’m gonna be dead by next week.”
That means yes.
"You don't have to serve everyone who shows up, you know. If you'll only take customers wearing purple ties, it'll make you all the more popular."
“If I don’t run out of everything I’ve got, I don’t think I’m doing my job right. I like when people eat my food.”
He ducks back into the truck and comes out with a two-foot lava lamp.
"Well, you're in luck. I'm hungry."
“Let me get all the lamps out of my truck and I’ll get you something. Got a preference?”
He seats himself at one of the tables and, apparently, awaits service.
...okay that’s not how food trucks work but he is gonna let that go. Due to the extreme publicity.
He piles the last lamps outside the door and gets to work.
He peeks his head back out the door, after a minute.
“What do you even like!”
And he returns to his kitchen.
He comes out, shortly, with a plate of springy noodles topped with seared steak and studded with snap peas and tiny, jewel-like peppers. There’s a colorful mixture of pickles alongside it, carrots and paper-thin pink onions and neat cubes of pale green cabbage.
“I don’t do a lot of actual entrees, but...guessing you could use one?”