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Fuel Season 1: Episode 5: The Family Man

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

The 1st PPV might be behind us but the aftermath continues only on Monday Night Fuel

Sports Opera (definition): a new genre that blends soap opera with sports drama with emphasis placed on the combination of athleticism and melodrama

30th of September - Season 1

Heroes didn’t lose when it counted most. That was how all the movies went, right? Back in the dark ages, the fairytales always had the bad guy bite the dust in the end. So, if that was the case, then how the hell did he lose to Jim Kieck at Arbour Games? Just as John Kloof contemplated his failure from last night, a voice boomed on the P.A. system.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the first Formula-X King in his first reign: His Majesty, King Thawn.” The boo of the live crowd soon followed but even that failed to put a smile on Kloof’s face. In fact, all this did was validate his state of mind. If the good guys are supposed to win in the end then how can this guy, this unbelievable asshole have the Crown!? Clearly, life wasn’t fair.

Kloof watched on the big screens in the paddock area as The Impaler – who they now had to refer to as either King Thawn or His Majesty – went about his coronation on the stage that sat in the middle of the racetrack. Kloof watched as King Thawn began to give a speech, claiming to have always known that things were going to end this way. But the fans clearly weren’t having any of this, booing him the whole way.

“Don’t you people dare boo me,” he said confidently. “You’re booing the best racer in this series.” The booing continued. “You know what, you guys are jealous. That’s what this is. You’re jealous of my success and to that I say, bite me.  Suck it up and get used to it. Because I’m going to be reigning for a long, long time.”

Kloof rolled his eyes and turned on his heel, having heard enough. While he walked out of the paddock area, he couldn’t help wondering to himself whether King Thawn was unbearably naïve into thinking these people could ever root for him or if he was a complete genius by building himself up as a villain? Because if it was latter, then it was quite the plan. A good villain is remembered forever and isn’t popularity the name of the game?

As Kloof navigated the concourse, he wondered to himself just what had happened for “The Playboy” to get the better of him. As the only F-X racer who are also a mechanic, surely, he would know better than anyone. Just then, his phone rang. He smiled upon seeing the Caller I.D. “Hey wifey.”

“Hey, Johnny. So, have you spoken to Moodswing yet?” Debra, always to the point. But how could he blame her. They’d both agreed following last night that he needed to speak to the Club President and get him to keep their private lives off-limits. Although Kloof knew it was futile, he owed it to Deb to try.

“I was actually on my way to speak to Glen.”

“Glen? But he’s only Vice President. You need to go always the way to the top, Baby.”

Kloof rolled his eyes. He was by the entrance now, so he walked outside for some privacy and stood under the massive letters that formed the sign spelling FUEL SPEEDWAY right where a sign once said AZANIA AIRPORT. Moodswing hadn’t wasted a cent. “I know, Deb, but trust me, if you want something done around here, you need to go to Glen. Moodswing may be the brains but Glen is the glue that keeps this place together.”

Deb sighed. “Okay. I guess you know what you’re doing. By the way, do you think any shops will be open after you finish there? I forgot to go to Pick ’n Pay to buy margarine for Cassie’s sandwiches tomorrow.”

Kloof sighed silently. This was the part of his life that he didn’t enjoy: when monthly groceries only lasted so long and then they had to buy things day by day until the next paycheck. “I finish here at ten, babe.” Kloof checked the time: 20:22. “Do garages have margarine?” Kloof knew they had bread and milk and eggs for people like him who failed to plan ahead.

“I don’t know. Can you go and check on your way home?”

“No problem.” Kloof heard the crowd stirring in the background, indicating the end of Thawn’s coronation and the start of the racing. “I’ve got to go, Deb. I need to find Glen and try and get that race before everything is set in stone.”

 

GLEN’S OFFICE

As Kloof navigated the corridors on the second floor of the old airport, he couldn’t help but be impressed with just how well the old airport had been transformed into the Fuel Speedway. Glen’s office, in particular, was simply an old insurance company’s office altered to the taste of the Vice President. And it was perfect right down to the waiting room outside his door. But in this particular case, there was no waiting needed as Glen was already outside his office, talking with an agitated Solo Magubane.

While Kloof watched this through the glass doors, he took in the two-man camera crew standing in the room as well and rolled his eyes. He almost forgot about Moodswing’s persistence that everything be caught on camera. Great, I’m here to tell the world I want less attention on me, not more, thought Kloof. But what could he do? He knew what he’d signed up for... sports entertainment.

Kloof walked into Glen’s waiting area and waited until Solo and Glen noticed him and not a second longer. “Glen, we need to talk.”

“Not right now, John,” said Glen “I’m in the middle of something.”

“Oh, go ahead,” said Solo. “It’s not like I’m getting what I want.”

“I told you, Solo. Giving you a return race with King Thawn tonight would compromise last night’s pay-per-view. We use Fuel to build towards the next pay-per-view, not quarrel over the results of the previous.

Damn, thought Kloof, well that answers that… or does it. “Hold on,” said Kloof so that Glen, Solo and the cameras heard him. “So, are you saying if I ask you for another race with The Playboy tonight, you’re going to say ‘no’?”

“That’s exactly what I’d say.” Glen read the look on Kloof’s face. “Look, it’s Moodswing’s orders but the logic is sound. We need people to believe our P.P.V.'s are definitive.”

Clearly, Solo had had enough as he closed the gap between himself and Glen, getting in his face. Kloof imagined the cameraman zooming in to capture the intensity on their faces. “I can beat him, Glen. I know I can beat him. I am faster than him.” Solo then got distracted as he noticed something through the glass looking out onto the old terminal area. Kloof followed his gaze and saw that he was looking at King Thawn who was walking with a posse, his “Crown” tucked neatly under his arm. “In fact, I’ll go tell him myself. Maybe we cut the red tape and both agree to do this again.”

While Glen rolled his eyes at Solo’s persistence, it didn’t stop him from sending the cameramen following after Solo with the intention of capturing the confrontation on camera. “I believe Moodswing would call this gold,” said Glen after Solo and the cameraman were gone as he looked on through the glass.

“Listen, Glen, that’s not actually what I came to talk to you about.” The cameras were gone so Kloof knew that this was his chance. “I need the spotlight to come off my private life. My family is off-limits to this whole,” Kloof pointed to the cameraman taping Solo pointing his finger in Thawn’s face, “reality thing you guys have got going on here.”

Glen looked at him with remorse in his eyes but resistance in his voice. “I’m sorry, John but that’s not how it works around here.”

“I knew you’d say that, but I need you to do this for me anyway,” said Kloof. “I’ve got a wife at home and a 12-year-old kid and I can’t afford to put them through drama. I came here to make things better for them, not complicated.”

At that moment, Glen got an alert on his phone and checked it, sighing. “Well John, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.”

“What, finding out that I don’t have a race tonight wasn’t bad enough?”

Glen ignored him and continued. “The bad news is, you may not want to make things complicated at home but,” Glen showed him the phone, “it seems your wife is not on the same page.” On Glen’s screen was a twitter notification that showed a picture of Deb standing with Jim Kieck at what looked like a café. Glen continued. “But the good news is, at this rate, you’re destined to end up facing off with Jim again.”

Kloof didn’t even bother trying to retort and simply left Glen’s office. Kloof didn’t know what to think. The only thing he knew was that the picture wasn’t the whole story although it did make him wonder. The picture was taken in broad daylight, so they definitely weren’t meeting now... but did that mean they met earlier today? Was that the reason she couldn’t go to Pick ’n Pay?

No, Kloof wasn’t at all worried that Deb was cheating on him. That would be the last problem he’d have in the world. However, he was worried that she was damn sure making it look like she was cheating which definitely would be a problem as there was no doubt drama would follow. Kloof had been a fool thinking that joining the Formula-X Series would just be about racing. Tonight, was a prime example: he hadn’t even stepped foot near The Big Boot tonight, yet Monday Night Fuel managed to make this night an event all the same.

As Kloof made his way out of the building, intent on getting home to his wife, he left King Thawn and Solo arguing in the distance and couldn’t help but root for Solo. He wanted him to take that Crown from Thawn and soon. The man was an absolute prick. But as Kloof continued, a smile managed to find its way onto his face. Wouldn’t it be something, if I won the Crown? John Kloof, Formula-X King... “Now that would be a heroic ending.”

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Copyright © All stories are Copyright © 2016-2020 by S.T. Kubheka (also known by the pseudonym Bernard "Beesting" Bayede). ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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