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Fuel Season 1: Episode 19 - Dime-A-Dozen

With Valentines Day around the corner, the Duchess of Drag looks to find love but stumbles on hatred

Moodswing and Glen designed the Formula-X calendar, including all the pay-per-views, using the same marketing psychology that supermarkets do, basing it around popular holidays, festivals and traditions.

3rd of February – Season 1

“Love is in the air in Formula-X and its flagship show, Monday Night Fuel as the F-X Racing Club President has just announced the name of the upcoming pay-per-view that will occur on Valetine’s Day weekend: Heart Attack.” Those were the words spoken by the F-X reporter, Toney Kunene as she stood in front of a camera with a microphone in her hand in the interview area just outside the paddock.

Penny Potgieter – also known as the reigning Duchess of Drag – watched this in person rather than on any of the many big screens in the paddock as she was currently hesitating from entering. As she continued to hesitate, she listened to Toney – a beautiful, curvaceous (although she preferred the term ‘thick’) Zulu reporter do her job which included highlighting the controversy surrounding the name of the latest pay-per-view.

“While many on social media are willing to accept what the Club President was going for – a name that not only alludes to the season of love but also has a sense of tension in the title – others are claiming that Moodswing is being insensitive for using such a title. As of now, no word has come through as to whether Moodswing or Glen will be changing the name.”

Penny was impressed by the professionalism of Toney considering that before Monday Night Fuel kicked off, she was a 40-something-year-old, stay-at-home mother with nothing but a local news blog to her name and journalism jobs from twenty years ago. It hadn’t escaped Penny’s notice that Moodswing and Glen had a knack for employing people like this: knowledgeable folk desperate for experience whether they be young and fresh out of varsity or in their forties and stigmatized as past their prime.

This train of thought brought Penny to her current dilemma and the reason she hadn’t entered the paddock yet: Shane Roux. Shane was her mechanic. And he was also drop-dead gorgeous. A Colored man in his early twenties who rocked a bald head and had a penchant for wearing white vests with his overall sleeves tied around his waist. While Penny was sure that he shaved his head because male-patterned baldness had set in early for him, he pulled off the Vin Diesel-esque look so well that it just left him looking like a hunk.

The reason that Penny was self-isolating outside the paddock instead of with him was because along with the name of the next P.P.V. being revealed, it was also revealed that the after party for this event would be a ball. A good old fashioned high school-like ball.

“So, is your plan for asking him out going to be for you to just stand here?”

Penny didn’t need to turn around to know that Jim Kieck was now standing next to her. In fact, she didn’t even react. “Mind your own business, Playboy.”

Naturally, Jim didn’t. “I’m just saying that this V-Day Ball thing is two weeks away so if you don’t act now, someone else might.”

While Penny knew he was telling the truth, she wasn’t going to give Jim the satisfaction of being correct right now. “What about you? Have you got a date for the Dance? Or will you still be neutered by then?”

“I will have you know that I am enjoying my new found freedom.”

“Oh, so is that why you’ve been throwing roses into the crowd since we came back from holiday?” It was true. Since returning from the festive break, Jim had thrown a single rose into the crowd and always at a beautiful woman. And every one of them would start falling over themselves, smitten as ever. “You know that’s how that rebellion war started in Game of Thrones, right?”

Instead of getting wounded from the quip, Jim’s ever-present smirk broke into a smile. “Well then it’s a good thing we’re in the sports entertainment business, isn’t it.” After Penny rolled her eyes, Jim continued. “Hey, by the way, I heard that you and Dime had a spat. Care to spill the tea?”

“No,” said Penny, finally making up her mind. She started into the paddock and went right over to Shane. “Hey Shane, can we talk?”

“Yeah sure. The Coin is all shined up.” Shane reacted to Penny’s smile. She always did that when he used that pun. “Yeah, I know that you don’t have a race tonight but I felt that it should still be in good condition just in case.”

“Well,” said Penny, trying her hardest not to blush. “How thoughtful.” Part of Penny didn’t know why she was being like this. She just wanted to ask the guy to the ball, not to be her boyfriend. Lord knows she wasn’t that interested in dating… or was she? “Anyway, what I wanted to ask you—”

“This was your doing, wasn’t it!?” The person that had cut Penny off was none other than her former (as of two weeks ago) relay partner, Dime. Dime didn’t even wait for Penny to ask what he was talking about. “You were the one that put Glen up to it!?”

Penny was still confused. “Up to what?”

Dime narrowed his eyes at Penny. “So you’re going to tell me that it wasn’t you that went to Glen and told him to tell me that I needed to face the former Duke of Drag in a race tonight before I get my shot at your title?”

Penny beamed at what Dime had just said. “No. But I’m all for some payback for stabbing me in the back.”

Dime simply shook his head. “Whatever.”

Something about the way he dismissed the idea rubbed Penny the wrong way. “You know, I still can’t believe that you betrayed me like that.”

Still dismissive, Dime waved his hand and started away. “We already discussed all this on Touch’s talk show.”

“No,” said Penny, blocking Dime from leaving. “All you did was taunt me about being a hard person to work with and tell me that you actually wanted to walk out on me at The Scramble. You never actually told me why you wanted to do all that.”

Dime took a moment to contemplate whether or not to tell her. “Alright, you really want to know. It’s because of what you did to Brenda. I was afraid that you would do the same thing to me. I was afraid that you would replace me at the first chance you got. I mean, you’ve already won a title all by yourself so why do you need me, right? So, I acted first. I drew first blood to spare myself the humiliation coming my way.”

For the first time in two weeks, Penny felt bad. While she didn’t feel outright guilty, she did feel bad for making Dime ever believe that she was going to discard him like that. Penny could see the tears welling in Dime’s eyes, although he made a point not to let them fall down his cheek. However upset Dime was, he still had a man’s pride. But this bothered Penny. Was this not an overreaction? After all, had she not still partnered with him at The Scramble despite already being involved in two other races? However, before Penny could call him out on any of this, Dime continued.

“I hope you’re not feeling sorry for me because I don’t regret what I did. I don’t regret finally standing up against someone who’s treated me as less-than from day one. Our partnership has always just been your partnership. Well no more.” His teary eyes were replaced with a sharp look. “Tonight, I am going to beat Mkhize. And at Heart Attack, I am going to beat you and take your title.”

Penny felt utterly defeated somehow. The feeling only got worse when Penny finally took note of several phone cameras pointed towards her. While she felt fortunate that none of those cameras belonged to any F-X reporters, that did not mean they wouldn’t make it onto F-X social media and become part of the sizzle reel for their race at the P.P.V., played over and over again for the next two weeks.

Penny turned to The Dollar Coin and suddenly felt frustrated that she didn’t have a race tonight. She could have used that as a way to not feel like a loser tonight. She looked up and saw Shane who was polishing something and acting like he hadn’t heard anything that Dime had said. But he clearly had. Argh, now there’s no way I can ask this man to the ball.

 

OUTSIDE AFTER FUEL

Deciding to be a good sport, Penny had decided to stay to watch the races. While it was the first one that got her attention when Dime did what he said he was going to do and defeated Touch, she’d also enjoyed seeing Thawn get his ass kicked – although she hated that it was Jim who’d done the kicking. Penny found herself impressed with the new King, Mandla Xulu, as he proved to be everything that Thawn wasn’t by showing up and having a race against JVZ. Then there was the feature-race which saw Solo defeat Stevie. While that race was a thriller, it was the interview in the Winner’s Circle that brought the drama as Solo namechecked John Kloof as possibly being worthy to unseat them in the line of succession.

Penny was currently in the parking lot, waiting by her car. She was waiting for Shane, figuring that the staff parking lot was one of the few places that their conversation wouldn't be caught on camera. When Shane finally showed up, Penny approached him.

“Hey.” A moment passed. “Look, I know that you heard what Dime said and I just want you to know that I had no inten—” Penny cut herself off, realizing defending herself might not be the right move. “I’m sorry that Dime sees me that way but I’m hoping that you don’t. I don’t want you to think of me as this self-absorbed bitch who doesn’t care about anyone.”

“I don’t think you’re that, Penny.”

“Good,” she said before taking one final breath, “because I’ve been wanting to ask you all night to be my date to this V-Day Ball they’re having at Heart Attack.”

Shane smiled, clearly flattered. “Wow Penny, I appreciate you asking but someone’s already asked me to the ball.”

It took a moment for this to hit Penny but if Shane had specifically been asked to the ball, then it had to have been by another F-X racer. “Really? Wow. Who asked you?”

Shane’s face changed slightly. “Look, after your guys’ argument, we just got to talking and I found myself relating to him so when he asked me out, I said yes.”

Again, it took Penny a moment for this to register. “Hold on, you’re gay?” Penny didn’t mean to sound as surprised as she did. She had no right to… not in this day and age. It was old fashioned. Luckily, Shane took it in his stride.

He flashed a smile. “What, gay guys can’t be mechanics?” The question was rhetorical as Shane continued. “Yeah, I’m gay. Openly so. While I don’t broadcast it, I also don’t hide it.”

It took another moment for something else to occur to Penny. And when it hit her, it hit her hard. This meant that Dime was gay too. But that wasn’t the take away. No… far from it. What had hit Penny was that Dime had stolen her man. Up until this very moment, two things she didn’t think were true this morning were now smashing her atop the head. The first was that she had wanted to date Shane as she’d been crushed when he’d said no. The second was that Dime had successfully delivered a gut punch to her. So Penny was besides herself when Shane walked away and right into the arms of Dime across the lot who was smiling a smug smile at her.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright © 2020 by Sphu "Beesting" Kubheka
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