23rd of May – Season 3
AT NGELOSI CITY HALL
Mandla wasn’t sure what he was going to say but he knew what he had say. He was currently sitting outside his father’s office in Ngelosi City Hall. There was no sound except the clicking of a keyboard as the Deputy Mayor’s secretary, Sindiwe, typed away at her desktop. Mandla had been waiting so long that he was sure that his father had forgotten about him until the door opened and his father leaned out.
“You can come in now, son.”
This was already strange. The Deputy Mayor of the City of Ngelosi never opened his own door. That’s why Sindi was there. What the hell is going on? “Why did you want to see me, Baba?”
“Haibo. Can a father not come and see his own son without being interrogated?”
“Well no, Baba, but considering that you summoned me here to your office, I think that it’s safe to assume that this is all business.”
The D.M. wanted to argue but he couldn’t. “Yes, well, I do want to talk to you about something important. It’s this race you have at the Grand Prix.”
“The one against Kloof. What about it?”
“You do know that you have to win, don’t you? You do understand that, don't you?"
"Oh, I'm going to win. But why is it so important to you?"
"Because ndodana, you've lost to this man twice already at this event. You're lucky that people still support you. But they won't just continue to have blind support for you if you show that you can't win in the end."
While Mandla wanted to argue with his father and tell him that his racing had nothing to do with politics and the type of support was different, he couldn't find it in him to say that. And that was because the supporters were the same. They were the same people. They were the same people he might one day have to convince to vote for him and how were they going to do that if he constantly lost to the same man.
So Mandla repeated what he said but with more conviction. "I am going to WIN, Baba." This time, he earned a smile from his old man. "Now if you'll excuse me, Baba. I have a race tonight and it's the opening one."
"Huh? You're racing tonight? Haibona! Surely you should get the night off. The Grand Prix is six nights away."
"Don't worry, Baba. It's against a rookie named R-Kid. Think of it as a tune-up race." Mandla had spoken the words with a sly smile slashing across his face.
THE OLD BARN
Darcy Stevens wasn’t a big fan of bars – which was ironic considering that her brother owned a diner that functioned as the resident beach bum’s bar – so when she stood outside the place called ‘The Old Barn’, she was already feeling uncomfortable. It didn’t help that everyone was looking at her, with some people even filming her on their cell phones. It was clear that they knew why she was here.
It was just last week that King Deak had extorted this arrangement out of Moodswing, saying that if he didn't get to choose where their contract signing would take place, then he'd walk out and there wouldn't be a title race at the Grand Prix. And now here she was in the last place anyone would ever think of signing a contract.
Stevie's eyes cased the place, finding it surprisingly hard to find the man. Eventually, she did at a table on the other side of the bar. It was ironic that he blended in so well here considering he usually stuck out like a sore thumb in the paddock. When she approached the table, he kicked out a chair for her. She reluctantly took a seat but when he tried to order a beer for her she declined flat.
"You sure? The barkeep takes newbies not drinking his brew personally."
"Well, he's gonna have to live with it today. Of it makes him feel better, I'm driving."
Deak laughed. "Little Stevie all grown up."
Stevie hid a flinch. "Let's just get this over with. Where are the papers?"
"Not so fast, Diamond. We wouldn't want to rob the people of a good show. These things are supposed to be entertaining, are they not?"
Stevie looked around and took in the camera phones now seemingly zeroing in on them. "Are all these people uploading this...?"
"...right onto the Formulary. That's right." Deak shrugged. "Moodswing knows how to negotiate. He gave me exactly what I wanted but he still managed to scavenge a condition out of me." He gestured with his hands. "Everything goes onto the Formulary."
"Well, congratulations. You both got what you wanted."
Deak gave her a questioning smile. "But you didn't get what you wanted, did you?" The silence damned her. "Well, you can rest easy little girl. Ol' Deacon is going to give you exactly what you want."
"And what is it that I want?"
"Me gone." It was at this point that Deak pulled out the contract which was all folded. He slapped it onto the table. "So here's what I suggest: we amend this piece of paper and add a stipulation. We say: whoever loses this race has to leave the series."
"What?" Stevie's eyes had buldged.
Deak smiled. "You heard me. This is the Grand Prix baby. It's go big or go home. The question is: do you have the guts?" He'd pulled out a pen and held it in front of her.
Stevie hesitated. While she wanted nothing more than to be rid of Deak forever, she didn't like his sheer confidence in this move. But just the possibility of having him out of her life was too great and she took the pen.
Knowing a thing or two about amended contacts, Stevie flipped through the contract until she found the page about stipulations and neatly crossed out the old information and hand wrote the new, putting her signature below the penned in stipulation. He did the same. "I'll see you at the Grand Prix."
Stevie took the contract and started for the door. But the F-X King had one last thing to say. "Be sure to tune in to Hush Mathulane's podcast tonight. I'm his special guest and I have some very interesting things to say."
This scared Stevie as she knew that Deak could easily reveal something from their illegal racing days. But she didn't know what to say so she left, too eager to get out of there.
OUTSIDE MOODSWING’S OFFICE
“As of this Sunday, following The Third Formula-X Grand Prix, I will be the sole owner of the rights to Formula-X.” Solo Magubane was sitting in the glass-walled waiting room of Moodswing’s office watching the video of the Club President speaking on his Formulary app.
As if out of thin air, Moodswing appeared. “So did you like my announcement?” Moodswing could tell that he didn’t. “What?”
“I’m just wondering if you plan on firing Glen, now?”
“What? No. Maybe just humbling him a bit.”
“Humbling him? Moodswing, he’s the reason that this place runs like a well-oiled machine.”
Moodswing’s face dropped so fast it was like he’d just seen his son bullied by a girl. “I resent that. But this isn’t why I called you to my office.”
“Then why did you?” Moodswing smiled and answered the question by inviting Solo into his office where Touch was sitting in one of the chairs. “What is this?”
“Not my idea,” said Touch, answering.
Moodswing smoothly moved around to his chair while gesturing for Solo to take a seat. “If you want to know why I invited both of you here, it’s because I think it’s time to raise the stakes for your race.”
Touch and Solo shared a look. “Our race already has stakes, Moodswing,” said Touch. “If I beat him, he leaves Monday Night Fuel.”
“I haven’t agreed to that yet.”
“Well now you have no choice,” said Moodswing. “Because, Solo, if you don’t agree to the stipulation, then I’m going to revise your contract so that you can’t go back to Auto One until the end of Season Five.”
“What? But that’s not part of the deal. When I resigned two years ago, we agreed that I get the first three months of the season off so I can race for Team Sasol.”
“But that contract also stated that it was a four-year contract that was open to re-evaluation at any time. This is that time.”
While Solo was struck silent, Touch spoke up. “Whoa, wait a minute. I never wanted to cost Solo his job at Auto One. I don’t want to do this if that’s the stipulation.”
“Well, that’s too bad because if you back out, then I’m cancelling Touching Base and I will personally make sure that you never get a shot at the Crown again.” Moodswing paused to let that sink in. “Or did you think I hired a guy like Hush Mathulane for kicks? He’s very capable of hosting his own talk show. Now gentlemen,” he said standing up, “if you’ll excuse me, I do have a lot of work to do.”
Both Solo and Touch left Moodswing’s office in disbelief. It didn’t help that resident F-X reporter, Sherry Detwiler was there waiting for them. Fortunately for Solo, Touch opted to answer her questions while he contemplated just how much was at stake.
LATER IN THE PADDOCK
Devì was not in a good mood. She'd lost back-to-back races in the past two weeks to those bloody koeksisters and now had to face all three of them at the Grand Prix which wouldn't be a problem if the fandom hadn't taken it upon themselves to predict that she'd be losing. She couldn't have that.
She needed to make a statement; something that would both get under their skin and remind the fandom of just who the hell she was. And by the time she was standing in front of Toney Kunene in the interview area, she knew what she was going to say.
"So Devì, not only are the odds against you this Sunday but Brenda Koek has just recently posted on the Formulary that they're going to teach you a lesson. What do you say to that?"
Devì was momentarily caught off guard having not seen that post yet but didn't give anything away, as she already knew what she was going to say. "Oh they think they're going to teach me something horrible at the Grand Prix but in reality, they've got that ass backwards.
"While I may be beautiful, I can get as ugly as the best of them and things will definitely get ugly. Let me ask you and the fandom something, Toney. How exactly are the odds so stacked against me when between the four of us, I'm the only one that's won the Crown? I mean, two months ago both Doris and Teresa were in a race for the title and they both failed to win.
"In fact, I find it amusing that the koeksisters are considered cornerstones of the series and yet after three whole years, they've failed to capture the Crown while I did it in my debut race!" The intensity had risen but Devì wasn't done. "But this isn't about past seasons. This is all about this Sunday which brings me to Brenda, her big mouth, and an idea I had.
"So I know that you three like to dress up for pay-per-views, wear something sexy before the race. I mean, we all remember your Playboy bunny suit at Love 'n War. Well, how would you like to be wearing an actual bunny suit? I challenge you, Brenda, to a One Kilometer Derby tonight, where the winner gets to decide what the loser wears to the Grand Prix!"
Devì then walked away from the interview, satisfied that she'd gotten the last word and determined that she'd win. It was just a shame that hers wasn't the only interview of the night. While Devì didn't really care what Thawn and Savana were going to say (regardless of whether it was about their title defence tonight again Jim Kieck and John Kloof or their respective races at the Grand Prix); she did care about the next interview...
LATER THAT NIGHT
It was a strange sensation being back in front of a capacity crowd, standing on the middle stage. She'd opted to come out here and speak her mind rather than have an interview backstage. She owed the people that much.
Her announcement which had been hyped for over a week had become so anticipated that she'd been given the feature race slot to say it. She took it all in before speaking. "Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that I have made a full medical recovery and I have been cleared to race by the doctors."
There was a massive cheer for Pretty Penny Potgieter that one could swear she'd been gone for years. Pretty Penny had more to say. "Not only am I back but I have been granted approval to race at The Third Formula-X Grand Prix which brings me to the second reason I'm out here tonight: I am officially challenging Savana to a race.
Not a minute later, Savana walked out to a chorus of boos. Like Solo Magubane months before her, Pretty Penny couldn't help but feel thrilled about this interruption because it was just so purely sports entertainment. Nowhere else could an interruption like this feel more awesome than disrespectful.
Savana picked up a microphone and immediately leaned in on the moment, shaking her head. "You should have stayed home Penny. I accept your challenge." It was at that point that the crowd went absolutely ballistic. Ironically, despite everyone hating on her, Savana managed to send everyone home happy. The last stop to The Third Formula-X Grand Prix was complete! Now it was time to end the season.