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HomeDrama Stories Fuel Season 2: Episode 22 – 12 Rounds of Fortune

Fuel Season 2: Episode 22 – 12 Rounds of Fortune

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

After Mandla raises the stakes of their upcoming race, John Kloof responds

Monday Night Fuel uses reality show techniques to showcase the lives of the F-X racers behind the scenes and on the racetrack by putting everything on camera.

8th of March – Season 2

John Kloof had been hearing about it all week: Mandla's middle-stage speech. The one where he had accepted his challenge but also exposed his personal business to the world. Now, not a day went by without at least one client asking how business was. They all thought he was going broke. But that was better than the ones that didn't say something to him but simply looked at him suspiciously. Debra noticed her husband's busy mind and she knew what it was on.

"It's not a crime to want to live the best life you can," said Deb, gaining his attention. "You're allowed to want things, even if they're the finer things in life."

John wanted to laugh because the fact and the matter was, it wasn't about the finer things in life at all. It was just about living in a suburb instead of a flat; driving a more modern car and taking her little girl – who wasn't so little anymore – to a better school. "I know that. And I wasn't even thinking about that," he lied.

They were currently making their way to the Fuel Speedway. As per their usual routine, John had closed up shop and Deb was now dropping him off. She kept her eyes on the road as she spoke. "Then what are you thinking about?"

"Mandla's counter-challenge." Mandla accepting his challenge under the condition that it be made into a 12 Rounds Derby had really flipped the table on John. He hadn't expected it. Now, if he wanted to face the man and – as he said – cash in on their rivalry, he was going to have to go all in: high risk, high reward.

Debra thought about this. "Are all Twelve Round Derbies raced for money?" They'd discussed what a 12 Rounds Derby was before, but they had never gotten into the mechanics of what made it special.

"I actually asked Glen about that over the phone. He told me that while it hasn't been made official, they are looking into making it a solid thing. But at the moment, it's purely a gentlemen's agreement." John had actually been surprised to find out that Thawn Oberhauser and Touch Mkhize had also raced for monetary stakes in the first ever 12 Rounds Derby, making a gentlemen's agreement in their own right thus unofficially setting a precedent.

However, Debra was still thinking. "Okay, but how is it related to the One Kilometer Derby? Because I'm thinking that since you won that, surely you would have the advantage, if they're related."

"I think it's only related by them both being raced for some kind of stake." John let out a contemplative breath before speaking again. "I've decided that I'm going to turn Mandla down. It's not worth the risk. We have too much to lose."

"But what about what you'll gain? You're acting like you're going to lose."

"So you think I should say yes? But Deb, who am I to gamble with our family's future?"

"It's not gambling when you know you can win." Debra gave a quick glance to him and saw that he'd been convinced. "Now, what are you going to do about the money you have to put into the pot because we're going to have to come up with a way to raise—"

John shut her down. "There's no 'we' when it comes to raising the money. I'll deal with that. And before we get there, there's something else I have to do first..."

 

LATER ON THE MIDDLE-STAGE

When John arrived at the Fuel Speedway, he'd made a beeline for Glen's office to ask for approval to make an announcement on the middle-stage. Since this was a first for John, he'd had to convince the Club Vice President but managed to when he said that Mandla's speech last week deserved an appropriate response. Alas, here he was, about to make his first public speech since high school twenty years ago.

"So last week, Mandla Xulu came up to this stage and aired my dirty laundry. He said I was a coward and I was only doing this to sustain new found quality of life. And now he expects me to take him on in a Twelve Rounds Derby where I have to fork out money upfront just to participate. Well, I'm afraid doing that would defeat the entire purpose of challenging him in the first place which is to make money to look after my family."

At this point, the fans began to murmur, some even booing... Which was exactly what John wanted. He was purposely leading them to believe he was declining Mandla's counter-challenge because he wanted a reaction, any reaction, from them. "However," he said officially changing his tune, "Mandla pushed a button that cannot be un-pushed. He suggested that I was somehow hiding behind my family to get ahead in the F-X series," This garnered a mixed reaction. He continued. "Like I was somehow using them to garner sympathy from not only you, the fans, but from the Club Committee as well. Well, that’s not true. And to prove to you that I’m not a coward, I’m willing to put it all on the line.”

It was at this point that the crowd came alive, excited about what they were hearing. John then looked directly into the nearest camera, mimicking Mandla's actions last week. "Mandla, I accept your condition. You're on." Unanimous cheers from the crowd. It was on.

 

IN THE PADDOCK

When John walked back into the paddock, he was welcomed with a slow, sarcastic clap from 'The Steamroller' who looked proud of himself. "Congratulations John. I always knew you could do it. I always knew you could seal your fate. Proud of you."

"Careful Xulu. Now's not the time to push me. Lord forbid I get myself suspended before we can face off."

"Now, now gentlemen," said Moodswing approaching them smiling. "Let us not do anything rash. Not after doing so many things so perfectly right. I have to say," he said looking at John, "I loved what you said out there. You two, really know how to build a rivalry. You know, at first, I had my doubts, what with that small chance you two might end up reawakening Amandla's Rebellion. But, so far so good. Now it's time to discuss the most important part of your Twelve Rounds Derby: your stakes, gentlemen. How much are each of you putting in the pot?"

"If you don't mind," said John, looking around, "I'd rather we not discuss this so publicly."

Moodswing gave John a confused face. "It doesn't really matter. The two of you are going to disclose the amount in the pot anyway." When John gave Moodswing a look, he explained. "That's where the drama comes from, John. The people need to know what's at stake, literally."

While John was still in shock over how the same sports opera nonsense could be happening to the same guy twice, Mandla was amused. "Hmm, just like a high-profile boxing match. I like it." He lifted one hand, palm up as if holding something. "Prize fight." He lifted the other to match the first. "Prize race."

John rolled his eyes before a thought popped into his head. "Fine, if we have to declare the pot then I want a contract signing. And I'm not talking about on the middle-stage. I mean a professional, contract signing, in a boardroom with a lawyer to make sure everything is on the up and up."

"Fine," said Moodswing, "but there will be a cameraman there, no exceptions." John nodded and shook his hand.

"I'm glad you two are in agreement but I can't help but notice that we are overlooking one crucial element," said Mandla who looked at John. "Are you going to be able to cover your stake?"

"Well, that depends on how much you were thinking?"

When Mandla had told him the four-figured amount, John had refrained from whistling in shock to not give anything away, but internally he was panicking. It took a few minutes for John to realize that there was one sure way of raising that amount of money within a week. Juan van Zonder was surprised when John approached him. "Hey Jay Vee Zed, do you still have the number of that gambling guy?"

 

LATER AFTER FUEL

By the time Monday Night Fuel had come to an end, John had secured the money for the 12 Rounds Derby. It had involved a relay feature race; a bookie and someone who sounded suspiciously like a loan shark. After getting the number of JVZ's gambling guy – the bookie – he had given John the number of a guy who borrowed out money exclusively for betting on Formula-X races. JVZ had explained that the moment he'd made a correct bet that won him enough money to pay his debt off, he got out and had advised John to do the same.

The first thing that amused John was the sophistication of the operation as the loaner made it clear that he was on the up and up and didn't operate by breaking knees but rather by using an excellent debt collector agency. The loaner then told John that he'd only lend him the money if he won tonight's race which pitted him and King Solo against Mandla and Thawn Oberhauser. King Solo and John had won that race thus successfully securing John's loan.

When Debra picked him up and they made their way home, John kept the news of the loaner to himself because he knew that she wouldn't approve, especially when he told her of the risk if he didn't win the derby. In that case, he'd either have to settle his debt or wager another bet on another race and double down. This was a slippery road and John knew it, but Mandla had raised the bar so what other choice did he have except to try and go over that bar?

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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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