25th of October – Season 3
MONDAY AFTERNOON: KOEK RESIDENCE
Teresa was reading Moodswing’s Feeder page feedling for what felt like for the hundredth time. “JVZ will take on John Kloof in a return race from the Year-End Bash, Season One.” This was big. JVZ was finally getting a chance to show what he could do. Perhaps this would lead to him rising through the ranks. Although it wasn’t bigger than her guest spot on Touching Base last week where Touch had asked her out.
Teresa remembered her cheeks flaring when he’d done that and more so when she’d been forced to admit that she was into someone else. Ever since then, her Formulary account had been flooded with fandom questions about who the guy was. And here I thought everyone already knew. The one person that did know, walked past her sitting on the couch.
“You’re not wearing that to Fuel tonight, are you?” Brenda’s tone was always so authoritative.
Teresa looked down at her outfit which comprised of a white crop top with the end tied in a bow and red plaid skirt that was admittedly short. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing, Brenda?”
Brenda’s body language immediately changed to someone who was already losing the fight but was still going. “Oh come on, Teresa. You know that Moodswing asked us to tone the sexy down. You can’t wear that.”
“What’s the issue since we’re going to change into our race suits as soon as we get there anyway?”
“The issue is that we need to start at least trying to be role models to female racers. And that starts with stripping ourselves of simply being known for our looks.”
"Stripping ourselves?" said Teresa, trying to make a joke of the innuendo. The joke didn't land and she went to being annoyed with her older sister. “Well, I never agreed to be anybody’s role model. Besides, I have my own problems.”
Brenda rolled her eyes. “Oh please. You call people guessing who your secret crush is, is a problem? Yeah right.”
While Brenda walked away, knowing she’d lost the fight to get her youngest sister to conform, what she didn’t know was her final words had affected Teresa. How dare she trivialize my feelings!? As it turned out, not everyone knew about how she felt… not really.
LATER AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY
IN THE CAFETERIA
While Teresa had decided not to heed her oldest sister’s advice regarding her clothes, she did decide to take it easy on Brenda and went straight to Catering with the hope that Moodswing and the F-X reporters wouldn’t see her. She stayed there until Fuel started, watching on the big screen mounted on the wall as the show kicked off with a press conference for the headlining contest of Hallow’s Eve.
It was introduced by Angela Moodley – Moodswing’s wife who was running the show for the night – as ground-breaking, as it was the first pay-per-view feature race press conference to take place between two female racers. Now here are the two people that female racers should be looking up to, thought Teresa. The press conference started off civilized enough and even became interesting when Toney Kunene – resident F-X reporter – coined a new nickname for Devì: the ‘Daughter of Divinity’.
While Devì already had her own nickname – having been called the ‘Asian Aphrodite’ by the media in her previous days as a model due to her stunning good looks – she welcomed the new one which was a nod to her namesake, Devi: the Hindu goddess of love, beauty, purity, and devotion, and divine power.
Just as Teresa was convinced that Formula-X didn’t need her as a role model with Queen Stevie and Devì doing an all-around good job, the press conference finally took a turn for worse when one local reporter – who wrote for the Azania Chronicle’s sports pages – asked a simple question that triggered a major response. “Devì, this question is for you. Do you believe that Queen Stevie is a good Formula-X Queen?”
“In all honesty, I don’t. While she might have fought tooth and nail to get to the top, look at what she’s done since she’s been there; bugger-all. In my honest opinion, I think she’s unworthy of the title.”
Queen Stevie responded immediately, the anger visibly rising within her. “Where the hell do you get off saying that?”
“Well as someone who legitimately increased the exposure of this franchise while we were off-season, comparing what you’ve done with Formula-X’s resources at your disposal even to the Kings that reigned before me, I can say that pretty easily actually. You’re a failure as a Queen.”
The Queen fired back. “Well not all of us qualified in posing in photoshoots and get by on our looks alone.” It was these words that caused the two feature-racers to jump at each other and force security to break them apart. While it was clearly exciting for the fandom, with the live crowd cheering the girl fight on, Teresa couldn’t help but be disappointed.
“Now Brenda’s never gonna let this go,” she muttered to herself.
“Who won’t let what go?”
Teresa turned around to see Juan van Zonder standing there in all his blonde, green-eyed glory. Teresa was convinced she was melting and for some reason, her mouth wouldn’t move to respond. Am I star-struck?
JVZ, ever the Zen, laid-back individual, simply smiled and extended a hand. “I’m Jay-Vee-Zee. You’re Teresa?”
“Yeah, I know.” Teresa immediately shut her eyes and resisted the strong urge to smack her forehead. “I mean, I know who you are. And I obviously know who I am,” she said now stuttering. “Wow, is it hot in here?”
JVZ shrugged and smiled. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.”
Teresa smiled something awful. She could feel it: she was smiling like a maniac. Damn, I’m embarrassing myself. Teresa knew that she had to get out of there. Fortunately, she had the absolute perfect excuse. “Could you excuse... I’m just… well I have…” Spit it out, Teresa. “My race is next and I have to go.” Teresa was out the door before she could hear JVZ wish her good luck.
IN THE PADDOCK
STUPID! As Teresa made her way down to the paddock and quickly got dressed, she played back her conversation with JVZ in her mind and couldn’t help but feel so stupid. What had happened? She hadn’t said one thing like a normal person. Well, it was all his fault. Yeah, he was the one that had basically called himself hot. Teresa smiled at the memory and caught herself in the mirror of the change room. Well damn. Now where was this smile when you were with him, Teresa?
“Teresa, hello?” It was Doris calling for her and she sounded like she’d been trying to get her attention for a while.
“Doris. Yeah, what’s up?”
“If you’re done daydreaming, we’re on in three minutes which barely gives us enough time to drive down to the track. So, let’s go.”
ON THE RACETRACK
By the time Teresa and Doris had rushed down to the racetrack, Teresa had composed herself. She’d resolved herself to putting her embarrassment behind her and going back to JVZ and redeeming herself. As for right now, she needed to keep her head in the game.
Brenda and Doris had gone on a limb to let Teresa take Brenda’s spot in their team and allow her to team up with Doris on a regular basis while Brenda focused on her drag racing career. So she owed them her dedication and focus. She wasn’t going to let them down right now. They were currently up against Longitude & Latitude – the former two-time Relay Barons so this was no time to have her head in the clouds.
The race kicked off with Doris and Latitude facing off, taking the odd-numbered laps for their respective teams. They’d decided on Doris taking the odds due to her having an entire year’s experience over Teresa. Of course, with this being a 20 lap race, that meant Teresa had the responsibility of taking the final lap and winning the race. Fortunately, if her performance in Lap 2 was anything to go by with her inheriting the lead from Doris and handing it back to her for Lap 3, then they were all good.
As the race continued with the former Relay-Barons putting in more of a fight in the middle-section of the race, Teresa thought about how this race came to be. It had been Angela’s decision as she wanted to leave a mark with her one and only chance to call the shots. It was the same reason that the next race would see Brenda defending her title against Dime as Angela wanted to see Brenda prove that she was a fighting monarch. While this relay race didn’t have any titles on the line, there was still plenty at stake with the winners heading on to Show-Down to challenge the Relay Barons for the titles on pay-per-view.
The relay race came to a head in the penultimate lap as Doris fought to regain the lead she’d lost a few laps back. Having become desperate, she decided to pull a risky move moments before she handed it over to Teresa by feigning one way before going another. It paid off and Teresa inherited 1st position instead of 2nd position. While the lead was thin, Teresa managed to hold onto it to convert it into a victory. She’d done it, they were going to Show-Down for the titles. Now, if only she could use this winning spirit and impress JVZ.
IN THE CAFETERIA
Teresa felt like the luckiest girl on earth when she walked into Catering to find JVZ was still there, seated and watching the show over a burger. He looked disappointed in what he was watching and when Teresa looked at the screen as well, she understood why. Following Brenda’s victory over Dime, Thawn had gone onto the middle-stage and it was clear he was about to have one of his obnoxious self-congratulatory celebrations.
Teresa decided to cheer him up, making sure to put her best foot forward this time. “Hi again. Is this seat taken?”
JVZ smiled and gestured for her to sit. There was an awkward silence between them forcing JVZ to find something to talk about. “Can you believe that they’re allowing this guy to go out there and speak again?”
Teresa decided to let this play out, rather than force them to speak about earlier. “Well, at least this time he has the good sense to go out with bodyguards.” At least they looked like bodyguards, all dressed in black suits.
“Well can we blame him after what happened last time with the green slime?” They both laughed. “Oh-oh, he’s about to speak, brace yourself.”
On stage, Thawn Oberhauser spoke into a microphone over a chorus of boos. “You can boo me all you like but the fact is that you’re looking at a person who makes history. Everywhere I go, I make history. I was the first Formula-X King; I headlined the first F-X pay-per-view; I was in the first 12 Rounds Derby. And if I’d competed in it, I would have been the first Scramble Race Winner and I proved that when I won the Scramble Race last season. And come the end of November, I’m going to win the first-ever Speedway Derby.”
As Thawn droned on, Teresa decided to save JVZ by finally broaching the subject. “Listen, I wanted to apologise for my behaviour before.”
“You don’t have to apologize. I was flattered that I got you flustered, actually.”
“Oh wow. I don’t know what to say to that.”
“Well, you could say yes.”
“To when I ask you out.”
Teresa managed to hide her blush this time and remained in the game. “And when do you think of doing that?”
“You’ll have to wait and see. I like to be unpredictable,” he said turning just in time to look at the screen, “as does our show. Check it out.”
On-screen, Thawn was interrupted by Penny Potgieter who showed up on the big screens broadcasting live out on the Speedway, picture-in-picture style. Penny was seen in the parking lot approaching Thawn’s 1967 Chevrolet Impala and climbing inside to the sound of deafening cheers. She then sped off, leaving a screaming Thawn on stage.
However, it got even better when both JVZ and Teresa got a notification on their phones from the Formulary app which indicated that Penny was broadcasting a live video over the app. They both opened it in time to see Penny booking it down the main street through Ngelosi CBD before being pulled over by a Metro Cop. When she was given a ticket, she showed it to the camera, specifically for Thawn’s benefit, and said that it was a preview of forthcoming events. This, of course, was a nod to the Speedway Derby prize – a title shot at the winner’s discretion – being called a ‘speeding ticket’.
As the action on-screen finally came to an end, Teresa was about to ask JVZ something when he blindsided her. “So, what are you doing this weekend?”