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Fuel Season 1: Episode 2: Diamond in the Rough

Its week 2 of Monday Night Fuel as Stevie learns the art of sports entertainment

Monday Night Fuel is an ongoing weekly sports opera that follows the lives of the Formula-X Racers as they navigate the high octane world of motorsport on the island province of Azania, South Africa

9th of September – Season 1

Stevie’s pulse was racing as she moved at an incredible speed. Darcy Stevens was known for many things: having a dark, chocolate complexion unique for a colored woman; having a soft spot for coconut-covered snowballs and for being one of the fastest human beings in Southern Africa on open-wheels.

As Stevie weaved and bobbed between vehicles, she could feel the adrenaline running through her veins. In the distant background, she could hear the roar of the crowd. Jeez, she thought, it’s just as deafening as last week. She remembered the roar of the crowd as Solo won his race against Brenda Koek – a fellow female race and colored girl to boot. She remembered feeling the same rush as the one-on-one race stole the show. It was like nothing that she or the crowd had ever seen before: two formula racecars going at it mano-e-mano. No medals, no podiums. Just one winner and one loser.

Stevie finally came to a stop... in front of the front doors to the Fuel Speedway. She’d been running. She’d been running because she was late for her first day. At 19-years-old, Stevie was too young to remember the old Azania Airport when it was still running. She only knew it as the old airport and knew it to always look dilapidated. So while she was impressed by how Terrance ‘Moodswing’ Moodley and Glenwood Jacobs had fixed it up, she couldn’t know how it compared to how it looked when it was still functional.

As Stevie walked through the old terminal, she marveled at how it had been turned into a concourse so beautifully. The place was buzzing with patrons buying refreshments from the concessions counters and goodies at the merchandise stands. But Stevie didn’t have time for all that. She was meant to meet Glen in the paddock 10 minutes ago. She finally arrived to her team’s designated area to find Moodswing’s business partner waiting by her vehicle, The Candyfloss.

Stevie’s palms were sweaty. This was a big night for her. While most of the F-X racers had the luxury of debuting last week on the premiere episode of Monday Night Fuel in the Royal Tourney, Stevie had been left out. She wasn’t usually a bitter person but she had to admit... not getting a chance to race on the first episode sucked.

Stevie was one of the few racers that didn’t roll her eyes when Moodswing pitched the series as Formula 1 meets pro wrestling. “Every episode will have racing and it will have drama,” he’d said. This hadn’t gone over well with the other racers but Stevie got it. She understood it like he did: it’s the shot in the arm that motorsport in South Africa needed. Although Moodswing insisted that it wasn’t motorsport, “it’s sports entertainment.”

While Moodswing had tried to tell her that her absence from the racecard last week wasn’t a big deal, it was Glen that had convinced her that tonight would more than make up for it. “You want me to do what?”

“A drag race demonstration,” said Glen. “It’s a drag race except that you don’t have an opponent.” Glen saw the sceptical look on Stevie’s face. “C’mon, it will be fun.”

Stevie rolled her eyes and agreed. She watched as Glen walked off with a smile on his face as he organized the races for the night. With her “race” set to take place between the two semi-finals of the night, all Stevie was left to do was wait in the paddock area.

The paddock area was where the racers held up before going to the race tracks. One could call it the “backstage area” to the racetrack’s “arena floor”. Stevie looked on at the other racers, each seemingly doing something different. The winners from last week who had advanced to the semi-finals were doing their interviews with the Formula-X reporters. The others had found ways to preoccupy themselves.

Touch Mkhize was currently filming some kind of voice over as his vehicle – which he’d named The Moyeni – was being photographed. Styles Sithole – who was once again wearing his famous bright green and black leather jacket – was busy taking selfies. And Penny Potgieter – a tough-looking yet pretty Caucasian female racer – was talking to Brenda Koek who made Formula-X news last week by secretly filming her and Solo’s conversation.

While Brenda had lost the race, the video had gone viral gaining Brenda valuable fans. It turns out, Brenda had figured out that half of the game was popularity because she’d even been commended by Moodswing himself. Stevie found her thoughts suddenly interrupted by two fellow racers and local Ngelosi boys she’d known almost her whole life.

“So what are you going to call yourself?” Stevie was lost. Long John Jele (which was the name on his I.D.) was a 30-year-old African man with youthful features that complimented his sometimes juvenile mind. His 26 year old brother, Luthando Jele, was so similar, they were usually mistaken for twins. This wasn’t helped when Long John adopted the name Longitude and his brother adopted the name Latitude, further driving people to mistake them for twins.

Latitude noticed the confusion on her face. “Your nickname, wena.”

“I already have a nickname.” It was true. Despite being the second born, after her older brother, Darcy was the one who’d taken to being called Stevie – a play on her last name while her Navy Sailor brother garnered the nickname of “Tar”.

“Nah-ah,” said Longitude. “Sorry little girl, but ‘Stevie’ is not going to cut it. Moodswing wants us each to have a nickname: something he can put on a poster.”

Stevie squinted her eyes. “I think Moodswing might be taking this wrestling thing a little too far.” Even though Stevie was the one that was mocking the idea, she couldn’t help but be intrigued by it. It made sense. If the idea behind the one-on-one races was to bring individual attention to each of the racers, then shouldn’t they each have an identity to differentiate them from each other? But that still left one question: what was she going to call herself?

As Stevie thought about this, there was suddenly a roar from the crowd. She looked at the closest of the multiple big screens in the paddock and saw that Thawn Oberhauser was about to take on John Kloof in a 10 lap match race. Stevie remembered how she felt about Thawn’s Winner’s Circle interview last week. He was so obnoxious as compared to John Kloof – a humble mechanic trying to make some more money doing something he’s good at: racing.

The race was an adrenaline rush as Thawn’s black and red vehicle with gold accents – named The Devil’s Advocate led John Kloof’s vehicle, The Big Boot, in the first couple of laps only for John to pull ahead after the halfway mark. However, in the end, the obnoxious one picked up the win. It was Thawn’s second Winner’s Circle interview that brought her attention back to her nickname when Thawn called himself “The Impaler” to the jeers of the crowd.

Longitude looked at her, self-righteously. “You see, you see?”

Stevie rolled her eyes as Glen approached her. “Okay Stevie, you’re on next. As you get ready, we’ll be airing a video package.”

Longitude and Latitude were within earshot and got curious. “A video package of what?” Their question was answered when the crowd became excitedly restless. Stevie and the brothers looked up at the big screen and saw a documentary style interview with Jim Kieck going on about his normal life. He was set to take on Solo after her drag demonstration so it made sense that they were promoting him. Stevie couldn’t help but laugh when the video went on to follow Jim on one of his dates like some dating show.

Latitude was the one that asked the question. “Okay… Why?”

Glen answered, “Moodswing really wants to sell the sports entertainment element, which means drama. If you guys won’t create it amongst yourselves, he’ll manufacture it via documentary.” Glen then turned to Stevie. “Speaking of Moodswing, he wants to know if you have a nickname for the announcer when you come out.”

Stevie thought for a moment. “How about ‘The Diamond’? Yeah, the Diamond of F-X.”

There was a beat before Longitude and Latitude burst out laughing. “Yeah,” said Latitude, “more like the Diamond in the Rough.

Longitude added, “C’mon, Stevie. You can’t call yourself the Diamond of F-X. You weren’t even in the Royal Tourney.”

“Yeah well,” said Stevie, fired up now, “neither were you two!”

Glen pulled her aside. “Okay, okay. I’ll let the announcer know. You just get ready.”

As Stevie went to get ready for her demonstration, she saw Longitude and Latitude whispering amongst themselves before scurrying off somewhere. Well good riddance, thought Stevie. She didn’t need to be thinking about the two of them right now. She needed to concentrate on the quarter mile of road ahead of her and her vehicle.

The Candyfloss was so named because of its color: passion pink. She hated pink. So of course, it was ironically the color of her vehicle. However, she then named it after one of the only two things pink she could stand in the world: candy floss (seeing as she couldn’t very well call it The Snowball). As she prepared for the “race”, sitting inside her car, the voices of the capacity crowd dulled out by her helmet, sitting snug on her head, she thought about the next minute of her life.

Drag racing in a formula-style single-seater was not unheard of but still very unique. Moodswing and Glen made it clear that what was unique in the world of open-wheel racing was going to be their specialty. But this wasn’t Stevie’s first drag race, so she was aware of what she needed to do: steady her breathing, calm her nerves, visualize the “win”. Unfortunately, she was taken out of the moment when she heard the announcer’s voice, booming from the PA system: “And now, standing at the starting line, ladies and gentlemen, the Diamond in the Rough, Daaarcy Steeevens!”

Damn it. Stevie didn’t need to be a detective to know who set this up. Longitude and Latitude! Damn it. Damn them. But Stevie didn’t have time to let their nonsense get into her head. She needed positive thoughts... Diamond in the rough, huh? Okay. She could use that. Yes, sure. She could use that as fuel to push herself; to drive herself to proving that she really was the diamond around here. She was going to show them it was a mistake to not include her in the Royal Tourney. She was going to show them all who she was.

 

 

 

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Copyright © Copyright © 2020 by Sphu "Beesting" Kubheka
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