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Fuel Season 1: Episode 6: Touched by Ingelosi

Last week saw a love affair get sensationalized. This week, a racer tells misfortune to take a hike

Ingelosi - Zulu word meaning "An Angel" (spiritual being found in Christian mythology)

7th of October - Season 1

Touch Mkhize had never been one for believing in luck. He didn’t believe in divine interventions or any other such. What you see is what you get. That’s why he didn’t end up hating God when his parents died when he was nineteen-years-old – that awkward age when you weren’t young enough to be considered a child but also not old enough to take on the world all on your own. No, Touch didn’t believe in luck. So, he also found it funny how people kept mentioning how lucky he was to get out of Egypsia and make it onto Monday Night Fuel.

Egypsia was one of the most iconic townships in Azania if not the whole of South Africa due to being densely populated with caravans, so much so that it was nicknamed the “Trailer Park Township”. This distinction came about after the Azania Municipality’s Department of Housing went for an innovative way of getting rid of shacks by providing caravans to the less fortunate only for this to be abused to no end. Now trailers were used for everything including houses, saloons, tuck shops and taverns. The irony, of course, is that the initiative worked as there were no shacks in sight anymore.

Interestingly, it wasn’t Monday Night Fuel that got Touch out of Egypsia, but rather his grandmother who invited Touch to live with her after his parents died five years ago. It was meant to be temporary as Touch sorted out trying to go to University, but the insurance company handling his parents’ policy had taken far too long and just to tell them that there wasn’t enough money in the policy to take him through varsity anyway which left Touch working odd jobs to pay the bills.

While anyone else would say this was bad luck, the fact and the matter was, that Touch and his grandmother had never, had to worry about putting food on the table... and that was without dipping into her pension. Somehow, from working as a taxi driver to working as a truck driver to working as a delivery man, Touch had managed to always keep groceries in the house all year round. Of course, it helped that while he was doing all those jobs, he was also working as a telephone salesman, sometimes at night, other times on the road. In fact, it was the sales job that tickled his fancy, so much so that he was looking to break into marketing. But before he could do that, he needed something he’d wanted his whole life. He needed his own car.

He was looking at a picture of the car he wanted: a 1990 BMW 320i. It currently belonged to an old high school classmate who was willing to sell it to him but only if he could come up with the cash before his other potential buyer. And currently, he was only R1000 short. His grandmother suddenly walked into the room.

“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for TV?” said Touch’s grandmother.

Touch knew she was talking about his other weekly gig. “Fuel only starts at eight, Gogo.”

“It’s almost Seven. The bus izokushiya if you’re not at the stop by Seven.”

She was right. While it only took the bus 30 minutes to travel from the outskirts of Ngelosi – where his grandmother stayed – to the Fuel Speedway, there was no way of knowing whether the bus would arrive on time. Touch gathered his bag. “Well, hopefully this is the last time I’ll be taking the bus to Fuel, Gogo. I’ve almost got enough money to get that car I told you about.”

“I thought you already had a car.”

Touch knew she was talking about The Moyeni, the vehicle he drove on Monday Night Fuel. “No, that’s a race car, Gogo. I’m talking about an everyday car.”

“Oh.” Shame, she was old. “Well you know, Touch, having a car is not everything. You don’t have to spend your savings on such things.”

Touch wanted to roll his eyes but instead, he just kissed her on the forehead and started for the bus stop. Gogo just doesn't get it, thought Touch. It wasn’t about having something material. The car was a metaphor for him. It was about succeeding despite what other people wanted to call misfortunes. No, Touch was going to show her. But first, he needed to get the car.

LATER AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY

As Touch walked through the parking lot, he couldn’t help but marvel at his fellow F-X racers’ private cars: Kloof’s red Citigolf; Brenda Koek’s white Corsa Lite; Styles Sithole’s Toyota 86. While Touch appreciated Solo, Penny and Thawn’s muscle cars and Longitude, Latitude and Stevie’s motorcycles, he liked the racers with the everyday cars as they each somehow spoke to their personalities just as their racecars did.

Just as Touch walked inside, he was greeted by Styles Sithole. “Have you read this?” Styles was a very interesting person as he always dressed in very bright colors – notably green – and always wore Ozzy Osbourne-style glasses (round-rimmed with different colored lenses every week) even when they were inside. Together with his short dreadlocks, Styles had an elaborate... style.

Touch looked at what Styles had given him: a tablet with an open website on the screen. “What am I looking at here?” But Touch’s question was answered when he read the article from the Monday Night Fuel website reporting on the race they had last week.

“Do you see what they’re calling it? The t—”

“The Tale of Curses and Whispers.” It was Stevie that spoke the words, having just walked into the Fuel Speedway herself. “I read that piece. I mean, I knew that the F-X reporters take their leads from tabloid journalism, but damn.”

Touch knew what she was saying: that the critical acclaim of their race last week was just sensationalism like the rest of the drama on the Fuel Speedway. But before Touch could give Stevie a piece of his mind, Styles jumped in.

“I think you’re just jealous because even though I lost the race against Touch here last week, people are still talking about me. Meanwhile you lost the feature race against Solo last week, and you’re all but forgotten.” Touch wanted to smile but it wasn’t over yet as Stevie had proven over the past few weeks that she wasn’t one to back down from a fight.

“Oh, and how many feature races have you been in, huh?” No answer from Styles. It didn’t matter. Stevie had landed her blow. “You know that the feature race of the racecard is the main event of the night, right...?”

Touch barely heard the rest of the conversation as his phone vibrated in his pocket. He checked the message that had come through and smiled, quickly making his way back to the parking lot, passing Moodswing and a camera crew on his way out. He realized that Moodswing was spying on the argument between Styles and Stevie and was now most likely going to make a match race out of their argument.

Meanwhile outside, Touch saw the last person he was expecting to see: his old schoolmate, Lungelo Mashaba. And he was standing next to his car... soon to be his car. “Lungelo, what’s up? What are you doing here?”

“How’s it Touch. It’s good to see you man. I need to talk to you. It’s about the car.”

“You haven’t sold it, have you? I’m only a thousand rand short. I can get that by the end of the month.”

“That’s why I’m here. The other buyer is ready to buy and wants to buy the car tomorrow. Which means if you want it, you’ll have to organize tonight.”

Touch's face dropped. “I can’t make up one kay in one night.”

“Well, you’re going to have to figure out a way.” While Touch tried to negotiate with Lungelo more, he realized that it was futile and that either he was going to beg, borrow or steal the money he needed tonight, or he’d lose out on the BMW.

Touch walked back into the building, not sure what to do when he overheard Moodswing make the race between Styles and Stevie. When Stevie asked whether it would be the feature race, Moodswing denied her this, saying that he was saving the feature race for something special: a race to determine King Thawn’s opponent for the next pay-per-view.

“Oh great, there goes the big paycheck,” said Stevie.

“Winners still get nice paychecks even if they’re not in the feature race,” said Moodswing. “And the more interesting the beef between the racers, the bigger the payout for the winner.”

This information got Touch’s attention. That's it, he thought. That's the answer. Now he just needed an opponent that the fans would be interested in seeing him race. That’s when he saw him: The Playboy.

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

Touch could almost feel the ground vibrating as he accelerated down the straight. This was always the case as he drove in The Moyeni as there was only centimeters of space between his butt and the asphalt blazing past beneath him. He was currently leading the race against Jim Kieck, trying to balance keeping the inside lane while also blocking The Playboy from overtaking him on the outside.

It hadn’t taken much for Touch to get Jim to agree to face him. After the many times that the two had bumped into each other on social media, with Jim forever calling Touch out for having a big mouth, all Touch had to do was call attention to the continuing drama between him and John Kloof and Jim was in “attack” mode. Moodswing didn’t even need to be convinced to sanction the race as the idea of a return race from the very first episode between the two had “gold” written all over it.

As Touch struggled to maintain the lead against The Kissed-Off driver, he thought about his reason for taking the race: the winner’s paycheck. While he'd experienced a taste of this last week after defeating Styles, he wondered how much bigger it would be this week with the weeks of heat that Jim and himself had inadvertently built up.

Crack! Touch swore. Something had hit his visor – probably a piece of debris from the track – but while it hadn’t damaged his helmet or his vehicle, it did distract him enough to slow him down, giving Jim a chance to overtake. Unfortunately for Jim, Touch was more motivated than he could know as Touch managed to regain the lead and convert it into a victory.

While Touch went about the Winner’s Circle interview as all winners did and joined his team in the paddock to celebrate the win, he made sure to get the most important task out of the way quickly: speaking to Glen about depositing the winner’s paycheck into his account before midnight. Armed with this information, Touch returned to Lungelo and was surprised when he agreed to the purchase right then despite the money only to land in his account the next day.

And just like that, Touch would never arrive to the Fuel Speedway by bus ever again. It was with a smile on his face that Touch left Monday Night Fuel that night and arrived at his grandmother’s house, greeting her with a honk of the hooter. He’d done it. He had succeeded, fortunes be damned.

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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