Eddie, the protagonist in Buried Onions, does odd jobs for Mr. Stiles. Trying to support himself on his own, Eddie had gone to the north side of Fresno where the more affluent white people live, in hopes of finding work. Eddie is willing to do anything, including painting sidewalk numbers, gardening, and moving heavy objects such as air conditioners in order to earn a little money. One of his clients, Mr. Stiles, likes the work Eddie has done in painting his curb, and promises him more work, "digging a hole and doing some landscaping." Eddie is elated with the prospect of working for Mr. Stiles because it is as steady a job as he has been able to find. He returns to the old man's house the next day, and is assigned to plant a birch tree. Impressed with the young man's industrious nature, Mr. Stiles then starts to make plans for landscaping work in his yard. As employer and employee get to know each other better, a trust develops between them, and eventually, Mr. Stiles allows Eddie to take his truck to deliver some items to the dump.
The truck is stolen from Eddie when he stops at his own apartment for a short time on the way home from his errand, and the thief uses the vehicle in a robbery at a laundromat in which an old man is brutally beaten. Eddie and his friend Jose find the truck and call Mr. Stiles to tell him where to retrieve it, and a few days later, Mr. Stiles tells Eddie that he has forgiven him and that Eddie can come back to work. When Eddie arrives again at Mr. Stiles' house, Mr. Stiles directs him to dig a hole, but in reality, Mr. Stiles has set him up, and the police arrive to take Eddie into custody as a suspect in the robbery.