11th of April – Season 3
Penny felt a little uncomfortable with the cloth tied around her head. For one thing, it made it appear as though she was blind when that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, she could see right through the material. But she wore it so as to hide her scars.
The truth was that she hadn’t expected to be back on Monday Night Fuel this season at all. But after what Plain Jane said about her before the Easter break, she knew that she had to respond and a Formulary post wasn’t going to cut it. As uncomfortable as she felt, this is what it had come to: where the storyline had led them. And it was a storyline that Plain Jane had manufactured brilliantly.
A month: that’s all that Plain Jane had needed to put this all together. Moodswing was no doubt proud. And the greatest part was that this hadn’t even been Plain Jane’s endgame. Plain Jane had only goaded her into this confrontation as a means of making Formula-X headlines heading into her title race at Festival of the Fall. But now that she’d lost that race, she’d found herself a nice newsworthy cushion to land on. And despite knowing this, Penny had still decided to show up. If she was going to have any chance of coming back with all her hype – assuming she’d be able to come back at all – then she needed to come back tonight.
Penny was currently sitting in the passenger seat of her own car – a red Shelby Cobra – across the freeway from the Fuel Speedway, waiting for the right moment.
“What are we waiting for again?”
“I told you, Flo. I have to arrive after Jane’s arrived. So keep a lookout. You’re my eyes for the night.”
Flo scoffed. “Says a woman who can see perfectly well.” Of course, Sister Florence Masuku knew this better than anyone as she had been Penny’s nurse while she was in hospital. During Penny’s stay there, they’d hit it off trading Speedway gossip for hospital gossip and they’d managed to become friends even after Penny had been discharged. This was why Flo was willing to continue to play Penny’s nurse for the night – scrubs and all – despite Penny being very capable of looking after herself now. In exchange, Flo got to drive Penny around in her roofless vehicle and looked quite comfortable behind the wheel.
“Okay, so how will I know Plain Jane’s arrived?”
“Just watch out for limos and well-dressed people. Moodswing hires limos for all the monarchs during this time.”
“Wow. Big spender.”
“It’s a means of generating interest for the Grand Prix. It’s a big marketing campaign called the ‘Highway to the Grand Prix’.
Florence clicked her fingers. “Ah yes, I’ve seen that. That’s where I saw you for the first time on all those electronic billboards.”
Penny got a kick out of the recognition. But then she killed her own buzz by remembering that this was the first season where she wasn’t a monarch on the ‘Highway to the Grand Prix’. Thankfully, she was distracted by the arrival of a limo. But it was only Brenda and Doris Koek. They’d stepped out of their limo wearing matching elegant white dresses.
“Wow. Those girls look stunning.”
Penny was surprised to find herself jealous of this appraisal. “You think? Well, how do I look?”
“Oh, you look gorgeous. Don’t worry, you have nothing to worry about.” Just then, another limo pulled in and this time the F-X Queen stepped onto the red carpet dressed in a pink ball gown. “Still nothing. Hmm…”
“I’m just wondering how someone managed to stay Queen for six months and still clean up this nicely.”
Penny rolled her eyes. “I don’t think that’s something she’ll have to worry about for too long now. If the rumors about her next challenger are true, then her days as Queen are numbers. This Deak guy is something else. You should have seen what he did to Styles: utterly humiliated him.”
“You don’t say. He sounds like quite the man. Do you think he’s single?” Penny playfully smacked Florence and before she could retaliate, another limo arrived. “Oh-oh. Game time.” Flo went for the ignition but Penny stopped her and asked her to tell her what she was wearing. Flo rolled her eyes. “You know, you could take that thing off and look yourself,” she said rhetorically. “Well, apparently, your nemesis decided not to dress up at all.”
“Seriously. Aside from wearing all leather and one hell of a low-cut bustier, she’d dressed like normal.”
Penny found herself furious. Even though she knew it was unreasonable, Penny found herself angry that here she was, a monarch on the ‘Highway to the Grand Prix’; a star of the biggest marketing campaign of the season, and she couldn’t even be bothered to dress up? “Come on Flo, it’s time to show up this loser.”
And show up she did. Pulling up to the edge of the red carpet before the amateur paparazzi could dissipate, Flo got out and opened the door for Penny and led her down the red carpet as if she really were blind but not before giving Penny time to pose. And whether by habit from two years’ worth of taking photos of her by pure curiosity, the people behind the cameras ate them up.
By the time they were inside, Flo had become caught up in the excitement. “Wow. And you’re telling me that none of those people do this for a living?”
“Nope. Moodswing encourages this behavior with the promise of giving one of them an exclusive in the weekly newsletter.”
“The weekly newsletter!? I wish you’d told me that. Then I could have dressed better. Now the world is going to see me in scrubs.”
“No they won’t. Don’t take this the wrong way, but none of them was looking at you.”
“Flo, you look fine.”
“Says the blind girl.” This earned another playful smack from Penny.
“Come on, Flo. Lead me inside and let me show you the paddock.”
IN THE PADDOCK
Flo barely got a chance to see any of the vehicles or meet any of the racers when Penny caught sight of Plain Jane in the interview area. The Duchess of Drag noticed that Penny saw her and scoffed. Penny knew that this was it: their climactic confrontation so she made her approach, stopping in front of her and resident F-X reporter, Toney Kunene.
“I knew you weren’t blind,” said Plain Jane.
“I never said I was, Jane.”
“Then what’s with the cloth around your head?”
“I’m not ready for people to see my scars yet. I don’t know if you’ve ever been scarred for life, but it’s not easy to show the world.”
“Hmm, that’s funny because I seem to remember you saying that you opted not to get plastic surgery.”
“Well, it is called an elective surgery for a reason. I elected not to get one.”
“Mhmm,” she said before looking at Flo. “So if you elected not to get the surgery then why the hell did you invite your nurse to the show?”
Penny had had enough of this. “C’mon now, Plain Jane. That’s not why you goaded me into this confrontation; not to ask about my friend Flo. Why don’t you ask me what’s really on your mind?”
“Okay then. When are you coming back so that I can challenge you to a race?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’m never coming back.”
“Or maybe I am. But if I do, I’m sure as hell am not going to face you.”
“Why, because you think I’m beneath you?”
“No, because I have no interest in giving you what you want.”
“Oh, and what is it that you think I want?”
“To ride my fame to the top. Jane, you’ve made it obvious since day one that you live for drama and headlines. You want to be the talk of the town. Moodswing didn’t build any stories around you so you decided to take it upon yourself to build your own story which I admire. I do. But I don’t respect you especially since you can’t even make the effort to dress like a monarch when you’re on the ‘Highway to the Grand Prix’. I mean, do you know how many people would kill to be in your position right now! I WOULD!”
Penny had surprised herself by how passionately she was talking at the moment, bordering on shouting at Jane but she had to get this off her chest. “Do you know what it’s like to spend an entire season trying to get to the top only to be forced to sit at home when it matters the most? I WOULD DIE TO BE THE FACE OF THE HIGHWAY TO THE GRAND PRIX! DIE! But instead, I have to accept that, that Shih-Tzu will be taking my spot and then you DARE to challenge me to a race! For what!? Why would I race you!? Why would I race YOU!?”
While Plain Jane was momentarily stumped for a response, she eventually did and did a good job by taking Penny’s words personally. “So this is it? This is you? Penny Potgieter, the face of the Women’s Dynasty. The best of us, right? Huh, what a joke. I’m sorry to break it to you but you’re not the face of anything. I mean, YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A FACE!”
It was at that point that Penny pushed Jane who pushed her back before Flo got between them. They stared at each other for what felt like a lifetime before each of them walked away They were both pissed off but Penny more than Jane, not because of what she said but at herself for giving in so easily to what Jane wanted.
LATER THAT NIGHT
After the explosive non-interview, Penny had been left in relative peace as she watched the rest of the show from the V.I.P. area with Flo. It was interesting to see what had changed and what hadn’t. One of the things that had stayed the same was that the Koeks were still kicking all kinds of ass, challenging any team to step up to them. Of the things that had changed was that there was a new racer in the series who had signed such a lucrative contract that he was given his own official podcast.
One of the more major developments was that Glen was back but due to his summit with Moodswing at Festival of the Fall turning into a so-called swear-fest, the series was now under a PG rating. The decision was only helped by the fact that Brenda, Doris, and Teresa had worn bikinis under their swimsuits again.
Another revelation was about the ‘Era Before’ – a nifty name used to describe the underground motorsport that took place before the series got off the ground and how both Deak de Villiers and Queen Stevie were involved in it. There was also Angela Moodley, who was put off by Moodswing and Glen’s fighting, seemingly deciding to go into business for herself and declared that she was going to protect the soul of the series. But the one piece of news that caught Penny’s attention was about Thawn and Savana.
“I speak for Thawn as well as myself when I say that we’re not done,” said Savana in their exclusive interview. “We want more. That’s why we are officially challenging Doris and Teresa Koek for the Relay Titles new week on Fuel.”
“That’s right,” added Thawn. “We believe that together, we can make the Relay Baron and Baroness titles much more prominent and relieve them of the stench of being seen as just racing tag team titles. Together, we can make them prestigious.”
Of course, Penny knew better. While they would most likely make the titles prestigious, this was mostly about the marketing campaign. This was about the ‘Highway to the Grand Prix’. This was about making headlines and walking into the Grand Prix as monarchs. The simple truth was that these two were her enemies, not Plain Jane. If she were to come back and race anyone, she’d race one of these two. It was because of them that the Women’s Dynasty had evolved into a dynasty of them their own. And that made Penny sick!