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Fuel Season 2: Episode 29 – Tempered Fury

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

While Jim enjoys playing reserve with his rosebuds, a temper tantrum catches his attention...

The Formula-X calendar was specifically designed to skip over the winter season.

17th of May – Season 2

When Jim Kieck pulled into the Fuel Speedway parking lot, he was smiling. Why wouldn't he be when he had three beautiful women as passengers in his convertible. Jim was wary of the fans that were eying him suspiciously, but he purposefully took note of one racer who didn't approve at all.

"Something wrong, Stevie?" Jim, now with a lady under each arm and one trailing behind as he headed for the entrance, stopped to talk to her. 

Darcy Stevens had just pulled into the Fuel Speedway parking lot in her pink motorcycle. Dressed head to toe in biker leathers, it was hard not to view her as somewhat intimidating, despite her reserved personality. "No," she said, shaking her head. "Just," she searched for what to say, "admiring your series pride. Don't you have the night off?"

"Yep, and I plan on enjoying every second of it."

Stevie gave a sarcastic nod of her head. "Clearly." Just then, Styles and Touch called her over from inside. "I got to go. Do enjoy," she gestured at the ladies, "whatever this is."

One of the ladies, a Zulu woman, clicked her tongue. "Ignore her," said Jim. "You know what they say: jealousy makes you nasty." He then brought his attention back to the departing Stevie. "Hey, aren't the three of you guys opponents tonight?"

"So?"

"So, why does it look like you guys are conspiring together?" 

Stevie gave an awkward shrug as she continued towards Styles and Touch. "We figured we three gauntleteers ought to stick together."

When his companions gave him curious looks, Jim said he'd explain. As they made their way inside, Jim did just that and explained that the Second Formula-X Grand Prix would be host to Gauntlet IV, now subtitled MotoMania. He explained that Stevie, Touch and Styles were the three gauntleteers charged with defeating Thawn Oberhauser, the Gauntlet Runner.

"And where do you think you're going?" 

Jim turned around to find Glenwood Jacobs with a hard look on his face. "Oh, me and my guests were just heading into the paddock. I thought I'd show them where I make magic happen. Well, the other kind of magic," he said playfully, earning a giggle from the ladies.

Glen ignored the flirting. "Well I'm glad you're making friends but you're not bringing them in there."

"Why not?"

"Because there are rules for who you can and can't bring in there. And because I say so."

"Wait, what are you trying to say?" said one of the girls.

"James," said another, "is this like your boss or something?"

"No," said Jim, cruelly. "He just likes thinking he is."

While his face betrayed him, Glen ignored the insult and continued. "As you're well aware, racers are only allowed one guest, on exception two but all must be vetted long before race night. You can't just show up here and bring whomever you want. Now, I'll be happy to give you and your guests complimentary tickets to the Vee-Eye-Pee area."

Jim rolled his eyes as they started away from the paddock. "Come ladies. This crowd is boring anyway," he said directly for Glen's ears.

Not a moment later, Glen called back to him. "You know  Jim, after capturing the Crown, I thought you'd changed. I thought you'd found a new appreciation for hard work. I thought you'd grown up. But clearly, I was wrong."

 

LATER IN THE V.I.P AREA

As Jim and his companions took their seats in the remodeled first-class terminal overlooking the speedway, Jim was haunted by Glen's words. It wasn't just about the idea of growing up. Lord knows he'd heard that enough times from his father and managed to find success regardless. Instead, it was what Glen said about capturing the Crown and his personal self-loathing about being nothing but a transitional monarch. He'd already felt like he squandered that chance by not taking it seriously and now Glen was confirming it.

What was he doing? While Jim was mature enough to know that it wasn't as simple as staying away from women, he was beginning to realize that maybe he needed to make a time and place to be the womanizer and a time and place to be an F-X racer. What he was doing tonight was blurring the lines.

Having gotten lost in his own thoughts, Jim realized that he'd missed F-X King,  Solo Magubane's entire middle stage speech. But it must have had something to do with his mystery opponent for the Second Formula-X Grand Prix as the first race of the night had him facing a mystery opponent in preparation. The opponent ended up being Caliber Kid – who had basically been fired from Monday Night Fuel to make way for Fiona – who made a fine showing against the King but was clearly outmatched and lost the race.

As they prepared for the next race, Jim found himself lost in his own thoughts again as he thought about the fact that he didn't have a race yet for the Grand Prix. In the last year, the Grand Prix had grown in status and it was allegedly reported that tickets had not just sold out but oversold, required the need for additional seating. Jim wondered why this was only bothering him now. He also wanted to be a part of history.

"Well if it isn't the former Formula-X King himself, 'The Playboy', Jim Kieck."

"Mandla," said Jim without turning around. "Walked out on anyone since last week?" he said, referring to the now famous scene Mandla caused last week which was still making the rounds on the Formulary.

Mandla ignored him. "I was wondering why I didn't see you in the paddock. And now I know why. Playing reserve. How sad." 

Jim looked at him. "Aren't you playing reserve tonight too?" 

"Mhmm, but the difference between you and me is that even without being on the racecard tonight, I'm still gonna be on everyone's minds when Kloof makes his announcement after the next race. Meanwhile you," he said smiling, "you'll just go on being forgotten."

Jim shook his head. "It's all about making the newsreel for you, isn't it?"

Mandla gave him a disgusted look. "We're sports entertainers, Kieck." He was about to make a move to leave before dropping one last nugget. "And no, it's not just about a newsreel. I happen to be standing for something through all this." He then looked at the ladies. "What are you standing for?"

By the time Mandla was gone, Jim was in a mood. What was with everyone giving him grief over his decisions lately? What did Mandla mean with that last part? What exactly was he standing for that was so noble? As Jim thought about this, he watched Juan van Zonder and Temper Kunene take to the start line, and began to get even more frustrated. Great, now this new guy is going to win and then go to the Grand Prix and make history.

However, as if the day wasn't strange enough already, the race got a twist of fate when JVZ did the unthinkable and overtook Temper in the second to last lap and held the lead to win the race. Jim was shocked as was the crowd. If Jim had been a betting man like JVZ used to be, he would have lost out big time. Unfortunately, the unthinkable wasn't over as Temper got out of his vehicle only to suddenly break out into a fit and throwing things. 

Things only appeared to escalate when Temper made a beeline for JVZ's designated area in the paddock and began knocking things around. Jim wondered why someone didn't do anything about only for security to finally put a stop to it. But the thought had already passed through Jim's mind and inspired him. Now he knew how he was going to make it to the Grand Prix... He knew how he was going to make history.

 

LATER IN THE PADDOCK INTERVIEW AREA

Sherry Detwiler held the microphone to Jim's chin in preparation of hearing something iconic. Jim had chosen Sherry due to how she notoriously pursued scandalous stories for her articles in the weekly newsletter. While Temper's tantrum might have been enough of a scandal to the fandom, what made this particularly juicy to the series at large, was the fact that Temper was resident FX reporter, Toney Kunene's ex-husband, making Sherry breaking the story, very juicy. 

"That's right, Sherry. You heard me correctly. I called him a bastard. What kind of man can't handle losing one race? Since that man got here, I've always disliked him and now I know why: he's nothing but a child. And a child requires discipline. Which is why I'm taking it upon myself to discipline him."

Sherry brought the mic back to herself. "Is that an official challenge?"

"Oh, it's not just a challenge, Sherry. It's a challenge for the biggest event on the calendar: the Second Formula-X Grand Prix. I want to beat his ass on the biggest stage of them all." Jim then turned to the camera and recalled Glen's words to him. "Temper, you need to grow up." 

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

Jim's interview had aired live right after the relay race between Penny & Dime and Blackcat Mathunzi & Fiona but before the 'Order of the Gauntlet' feature race and immediately gone viral all over the Formulary. Now Jim was standing with the hot head himself and Glen playing referee. It was a shouting match until Glen put an end to it.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen! Now I can see that both of you are fired up about what happened out there but all I need to know is if you," he said to Temper, "accept Jim's challenge."

"Oh, I've been looking for a worthy challenge since I showed up. Something for The Black Tantrum to sink its teeth into. And that pathetic vehicle of yours will do fine."

Before Jim could jump into it with him, Glen jumped in again. "Then it's settled. It's settled. It will be Jim Kieck vs. Temper Kunene at the Second Formula-X Grand Prix." Glen then looked behind the two racers at someone neither had noticed. "Did you get all that, Toney?" She nodded and Glen smiled. "Good. I thought I'd give you this one since Jim decided to run off to Sherry instead." Glen had spoken the words while looking at Jim, walking away. 

After Glen was gone, Jim looked at Toney as she approached. "Look Toney, I'm sorry. I just wanted to..." Jim was suddenly cut off by Toney holding up a single finger for him to shut up. Judging from the angry look on her face, Jim was sure she was going to follow up with a slap only to suddenly put her lips to his for a mouthy kiss. Jim didn't need to be told that right at this moment, he was nothing but a prop to make Temper jealous.

It was telling that this was happening far from any camera. It wasn't for the fandom or the other racers or even Jim. This was just for Temper: punishment for embarrassing her daughter's father like that. So when the kiss ended, they both turned to Temper who was burning with anger, and stormed off. There was no doubting now: this season was going to end with fireworks, one way or the other.

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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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