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Fuel Season 2: Episode 18 – The Lure of Menace

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

When King Solo suggests his current girlfriend is cheating on him, Thawn takes action...

I have it. It is engendered! Hell and night, must bring this Monstrous Birth to the world's light. — Iago, "The Moor of Venice"

8th of February – Season 2

As Thawn Oberhauser sat confidently in his seat atop the stage in the Fuel Conference Centre, he looked over at the Formula-X King smugly. Solo Magubane, 'The Franchise' they called him. They'd come a long way the two of them, but not far enough for Thawn to even consider that King Solo could beat him this Sunday.

"So Thawn," said one of the local reporters getting his attention, "final question. What makes you think that you can beat King Solo this Sunday at Heart-Break City?"

Thawn smiled, as he leaned forward, interlocking his fingers to make himself appear in control. "You mean aside from the fact that I've already beaten him before, twice in a row if I'm not mistaken? I believe that I can beat King Solo because I am the best racer in the series. The fact is, I should have been named Number One Claimant back in January. I should have been the one to face Jim Kieck at The Scramble and should have been crowned Formula-X King two weeks ago."

"But you weren't," interrupted King Solo. "I was. And you best remember that, Impaler."

"Oh I remember, Magubane. I remember what you took from me and I'm going to take it back."

However Solo simply smiled. "If only you paid as much attention to other aspects of your life as you did me."

Thawn had not known what to make of that comment and was glad that the press conference was brought back to order. The press conference continued on for a few more questions before coming to an end. While Monday Night Fuel smoothly transitioned to the first race onscreen, off camera, Thawn made a point to wait for Solo outside the Fuel Conference Centre.

"Hey," he said, disrespecting the F-X King. Solo smugly approached him. "What the hell was that that you said back there? Other aspects of my life? What the hell were you going on about?"

Solo's expression changed as if it were obvious. "Oh, so you haven't heard the rumors. Well, I have it on good authority that the former King is intent on making lightning strike twice out of revenge for you beating him and he's doing it tonight."

"What lightning?"

Solo decided to be playful. "Did you bring your girlfriend with you tonight?"

 

IN THE PADDOCK

"When devils will the blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows, as I do now." 

It hadn't taken long for Thawn to figure out what lightning King Solo had been referring to. It was a year ago when Jim Kieck had stolen his girlfriend at a flippin Valentine's Day Ball of all things. But when Thawn walked into the paddock to see Lorraine standing by his vehicle, The Devil's Advocate, he relaxed. Lorraine January was a model and an exquisite beauty with that caramel complexion unique to colored women.

While their relationship was somewhat superficial, it was still important to Thawn who liked the idea of being one half of a power couple. But the jury was still out if they were that yet. Thawn was just about to go over to her and find out more about this rumor when he was approached by resident F-X reporter, Sherry Detweiler.

"Hey Thawn, you got a minute?"

Thawn wondered what scandal Sherry was uncovering this time. "What can I do for you, Sherry?"

"I'm running a new story and I just thought you should know first." Before Thawn could ask "what", Sherry showed him a video on her smartphone. "I took this earlier tonight, on the other side of the concourse, while you were at the press conference."

On the screen, was footage of Lorraine with Jim Kieck and the two were giggling over a couple of sodas. It didn't take a genius to know what anyone who saw this would read out of this. But Thawn wasn't ready to convict Lorraine yet." When are you releasing this?"

"Just before the feature race. It's gonna be a vignette to hype up Heart-Break City. Oddly appropriate."

Didn't she mean tragic? While Thawn could admit that the footage was damaging, he knew that he needed proof. Solo had suggested that this had started last week meaning that there would at least be some evidence to prove this wasn't true. He had to prove that Jim couldn't possibly manage to steal another woman away from him. It just wasn't possible. 

 

TEN MINUTES LATER

"As jealous creatures are, it were enough to put him to ill thinking." 

Thawn knew the moment he opened it that he was opening Pandora's box but it was desperate times and he needed to know... for her sake. But nothing would excuse going through her handbag. She'd left it with him to go to the ladies room. However, Thawn felt vindicated when he found it: a single red rose.

Thawn knew what that rose was: it was something of a calling card for none other than Jim Kieck. If Thawn remembered correctly, Jim called his female conquests rosebuds and rumor had it that he'd always give them a single red rose. It was even his totem on the Formulary. In contrast, Thawn's totem was vampire bats: the symbol of Dracula... The original impaler.

When Lorraine came back from the ladies room, Thawn immediately laid in on her. "Lorry, what is this?"

Lorraine was taken aback. "Where did you find that?" she said, almost confused.

"Lorry,  who gave this to you? Was it Kieck?"

"What, Jim? No, why would you think that?"

"Because, there's footage of you and loverboy giggling like teenagers under the bleachers and Sherry is going to show it to the whole world. Now, where did you get this?"

"I didn't get it from anywhere," she said through gritted teeth before finally noticing that her handbag was open. "but I see where you got it from. What the hell are you doing digging through my bag?"

That isn't the point. "So what you're saying is that Jim didn't give this to you? You guys aren't sneaking around behind my back?"

"No, Thawn," said Lorraine, now upset. "I mean, he has been hitting on me all day but I told him I'm not interested. I'm with you. But where do you get off digging through my stuff and accusing me of cheating?"

Thawn blatantly ignored Lorraine's complaints. "He's been hitting on you? Why didn't you tell me?" She didn't answer, simply looking away, too annoyed with him. Thawn scoffed and walked off, now on another mission. He needed to find Jim Kieck and give him a piece of his mind. But first, he needed to find Sherry and tell her that he had a far better and more accurate story for her to report... his confrontation with Jim Kieck. 

 

FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER

"For making him egregiously an ass and practicing upon his peace and quiet,  even to madness." 

"So where do you get off hitting on my girlfriend, Kieck?" It was just poetic that Thawn had caught up to Jim in the concourse: the same location as the footage. 

Jim was smiling at the accusation even as he spotted Sherry so blatantly filming their conversation. "Well if it isn't 'The Box Office'. Now, why are you so upset? Because I flirted with your girl? What does it matter, she turned me down."

"You're not taking what's mine, Kieck. Never again."

"What's yours? Thawn, she's not property. And I was doing you a favor." Jim got off on Thawn's confusion. "Yeah, I was testing her loyalty for you. Making sure she wouldn't leave you like the last one did."

"You underhanded, slimy son of a–" Thawn was seconds from hitting Jim when Moodswing came around the corner. 

"And what the hell do you two think you're doing!?" It was a rhetorical question... A powerful one! "You should know all too well that here, we handle things on the racetrack. The way I see it, while you both have opponents at Heart-Break City, neither of you have opponents tonight. And what better way to build up our Valentine's Day pay-per-view than with a grudge race that harkens all the way back to last season's Valentine's Day P.PV. So tonight, in the feature race, it will be 'The Impaler', 'The Box Office', Thawn Oberhauser versus 'The Playboy', Jim Kieck."

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

" And what’s he then that says I play the villain?"

This was the second time that Thawn had been shoehorned into a feature race on Fuel, the first being on the night of his so-called 'title shot heist' where he lost to Solo Magubane. And this had been the second time he lost because of it. He knew he had Jim's number, but he'd lost anyway. But it didn't matter because it was Solo's number that he needed. Right now, he needed to take his mind off his loss. When Thawn walked into the paddock, he expected to find Lorraine there. But she was nowhere to be found.

"If you're looking for your girlfriend, she's not here. She left a while ago."

While Thawn digested that and the meaning of her absence, he noticed the smug look on Solo's face. Then it suddenly hit him. "It was you. You set this whole thing up, didn't you? You put that rose in Lorry's handbag, knowing that what, I'd accuse her of cheating on me and she'd abandon me?"

Solo shrugged. "I'll admit that yes, I did set this all up."

"Including getting Jim to hit on Lorry?"

"Not one of my most righteous acts. But  I didn't set up this 'Othello Gambit' simply to scare your girl away. I also did it to test you. I wanted to know if, even as a victim, if you'd still be lured to menace; if you'd still find a way to prove that you're an asshole. And you did."

"You're going to pay for this, Magubane."

Solo simply smiled. "See you at Heart-Break City, Impaler. And I can't wait to see who you bring to the V-Day Dance." Solo then turned and left, leaving Thawn to think about how Solo had played him. The man had done Iago proud.

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 © 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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