18th of October – Season 3
Touch woke up with a start when the bus lurched to a stop. It was fortunate that he did because this was his stop. Touch Mkhize hadn’t taken the bus in almost three years but it had been a necessity this time as he didn’t trust himself to stay awake driving over here. It was his grandmother that had kept him awake with her night-long coughing fit.
It scared Touch when she coughed like that. With her advanced age, Touch was aware that any serious illness could do her in. Fortunately, his grandmother had insisted that it was nothing and had caved when Touch had asked her to go see a doctor so for now, Touch opted not to worry. This was a good thing because he knew that he had other things to worry about, like the F-X Queen, Darcy Stevens.
It had started last week on his talk show, Touching Base when he had her as his guest on the show. Touch being himself, he had opened with a hard question of asking her whether she was an F-X ambassador like her predecessors or what because she’d barely done any press. While Stevie would admit to falling short in that regard and Touch would say that he didn’t feel sorry for her and believed she owed the fandom more, he’d ended the show by saying that he held her in high regard and that there was no one who deserved the Throne more than her. So the show had ended on a good note.
However, when Touch had reiterated his respect for the Queen on the Formulary this past week before asking for a race, his message had gone ignored. And with the Formulary being a social network, everyone could see him being ignored. Touch eventually accused her of dodging him which was when Stevie had eventually responded saying that the reason she hadn’t answered his message was because she was finally doing some press on behalf of the franchise.
While Touch had accepted that reason in his heart, the showman in him who knew that this was sports entertainment and people expected a bit of heat between racers, responded by saying that her “doing her celebrity thing” wasn’t an excuse for dodging him and “now, I’m demanding a race with you next week”.
So when he walked into the Fuel Speedway – intent on getting some coffee from one of the vendors on the concourse to wake himself up – he was barely surprised when someone was ready and waiting to confront him about the very public online spat. However, he was surprised to find that it was Devì and not the Queen herself or even his Hallow’s Eve opponent, Mandla.
“So just who in the hell do you think you are?”
Feeling no need to show her any special respect, Touch let out a yawn before speaking. “Who am I? I think I’m the guy who needs coffee before we get into… whatever this is.”
“So you think just because you insulted Stevens that you can now chill at the top of the line? Well news flash, Mister ‘Host of Boast’, I am the first in the line of succession. Do you understand that? Me.”
As Touch continued to order his coffee, he looked at Devì. Lord, this woman is beautiful. But he knew better than to ask her out. He’d known women like her and it never ended well. He needed someone more down to earth. “Hey Devì, chill,” he said as if tired of the conversation already. “I don’t know what you’re so angry about. You’ve activated your return race clause. You’re getting your rematch. So why do you feel so threatened?”
Devì scoffed. “Oh please. I’m not threatened by the likes of you. Why would I be when I know that you’re not even in my league? You don’t deserve to be Number One Claimant.”
“That’s exactly what I’ve been telling him since day one,” said Mandla Xulu, interjecting himself into their conversation.
“Oh look,” said Touch nonchalantly as he sipped his coffee, “if it isn’t ‘The Steamroller’. I’ve been expecting you to come chirp me. I’m surprised you let Devì beat you to the punch.”
“You can make all the jokes you want but so long as you face facts. The only reason you’ve got that race with Queen Stevie in the feature race, is because of your big fat mouth, not your skills.”
“Exactly,” added Devì.
Touch, still sipping his coffee as calmly as ever, looked from Mandla to Devì and back to Mandla. “You two need to get a room.”
Devì scoffed, setting Touch’s sneaky plan in motion. “Oh please. Like he would stand a chance.”
While Mandla tried to hide it, the insult resonated with him. ‘The Steamroller’ made a point to keep it about the racing. “That goes for you too, miss bombshell. You don’t deserve to be Number One Claimant either and the only reason you have a shot at the title at Hallow’s Eve is because of your looks.”
Devì, having had that thrown in her face enough, turned to Mandla, now giving him all of her attention. “Huh, what mighty words from a man who only has a job here because of his father. Now if you care to put those words to the test, then I suggest you meet me on that racetrack, tonight.”
“You’ve got it.”
Touch, now free from their insults, his a smile as he began to walk away continuing to sip away at his coffee. “My job here is done.”
LATER IN THE PADDOCK
With his race for the night set, Touch got to thinking about who he wanted as his guest tonight on Touching Base. While part of him wanted to interview Mandla, he realized that there was no new material with him. And considering the sheer amount of press Devì had done when she was Queen during the off-season, there was no new material there either.
Touch did consider interviewing the Club President himself in an effort to dive into everything he’d been going through the past two weeks, but he was beaten to the punch when he saw a vignette playing on the screen titled ‘The Trial of Terrance ‘Moodswing’ Moodley.
The vignette played after the opening race that saw Brenda, Duchess of Drag defeat Temper Kunene in a drag race. It wasn’t a live interview but rather a video Moodswing had made earlier in the week and posted on the Formulary.
“People have been asking questions about the ‘Era Before’ and my involvement in it ever since my wife called me a criminal in front of the world. The truth is, not only was I involved in the illegal ex-formula racing scene back in the day, it can be argued that I was the centrepiece of it.
“Indeed I was breaking the law by taking part in that scene but have since done everything I can to put it behind me. I raced in Auto One; I co-created Formula-X and directly due to my involvement with the ‘Era Before’, I have vowed never to race another open-wheeled car in competition ever again.”
Upon watching this and seeing the shots of the live crowd’s reaction to this, Touch understood the title as this was something of a trial by public opinion for Moodswing and a way for him to save his image from being tarnished. But Touch also realized something else from the vignette: it meant he couldn’t interview him either. That’s when he saw her and an idea sparked in his mind.
Teresa Koek: the new girl. Now there was someone that most people knew nothing about… other than that she looks hot in a bikini. Touch shook the thought out of his mind but only landed on another. But she’s also down to Earth being Catholic. Touch couldn’t help but wonder if she was seeing someone. There was certainly one way to find out. But first thing was first: he needed to get her on his show first.
THE FUEL FEATURE RACE
When Touch went onto the racetrack, he was all smiles. Teresa had said yes. Granted, it was only to being on his show tonight but just the sound of her saying yes was enough to get him in a good mood. As Touch waited for the lights to go off to start the race, he wondered where this sudden desire to have a girlfriend was coming from. Was it real or just a distraction from his worrying about his grandmother?
The lights went off and it was on. Instantaneously, Touch had thrown everything else out the window and concerned himself only with defeating the F-X Queen. Touch had made a solid effort not to underestimate the twenty-one-year-old and held his own in the first lap but as Lap 2 came about, Queen Stevie had managed to squeeze a lead out of the race. She then held onto it tightly through the First Third of the race and right through to the Second Third.
As Lap 10 came and went indicating the beginning of the Final Third of the race, it began to look like it would be a dominant performance by the F-X Queen. Unfortunately, she wasn’t counting on Touch having brass balls on him with a move up his sleeve that would be highly risky. It was Lap 14 when Touch went for broke.
Touch feigned a left-hand side pass only to go to the right of the Stevie and then tap his power-boost button to allow him some extra acceleration and take the lead for the first time in the race. While the Queen was still extremely close behind, Touch managed to hold that lead and convert it into a win to the absolute shock of the crowd. They turned electric when he was announced as the winner.
Touch was beaming from ear to ear when he entered the Winner’s Circle where Geeza Gabashe was waiting to interview him. “So Touch, congratulations on your win tonight. What do you think this win symbolizes?”
“What I think this win symbolizes is that Mandla was wrong and that I do deserve a shot at the Throne. I proved it here tonight. You see, I do have what it takes; I am feature-racer material and I can walk into a pay-per-view and walk out as Formula-X King!”
When Geeza asked about the comments shared between him and the Queen, Touch spoke his mind. “I told her before and I’ll tell her again: I respect everything she’s done and no one deserves to wear that crown more than her, right now. But I personally hope that she wins at HALLOW’S EVE because I’m gonna win too and then she and I are gonna meet again at SHOW-DOWN and I’m gonna beat her.” The cheers from the crowd were deafening.
TOUCHING BASE: WITH TERESA KOEK
It felt like a high when Touch walked onto the set of his show. Perhaps that was what possessed him to replace his usual hard-hitting opening question with a far more personal one. “Do you wanna go out some time?”
There was a hush in the studio audience with Teresa being as silenced as most of his guests after his first question. She didn’t know what to say. But eventually, she shook her head and apologized. The audience let a sad sound.
However Touch – perhaps possessed by happiness –tried one more time.
This time, Teresa was more direct but still somewhat polite. “Well actually, there’s someone else here in the F-X Series that I’m sort of into. It’s kind of like a crush and I’m sorry Touch, but it’s not you.”
While, ordinarily, Touch would have been crushed and maybe even a little embarrassed but not this time because this time, Teresa’s rejection had created something quite unique in the storytelling styles of Formula-X: a cliffhanger…