12th of February – Season 2
By the time the sun started to rise and throw light through the curtains, Lorrain January had been up for hours already. She hadn’t been able to sleep a wink and she knew why. It was the guilt. It didn’t help at all that she was already suffering a very low sense of self-worth by getting back with him despite him digging around her personal belongings. Unfortunately, she valued the lifestyle he could (and wanted to) provide for her more than she valued having her own personal space.
Lorry tried to throw her guilty conscience away with the night and turned to face the blonde man sleeping next to her. As she watched him stir, she wondered if she was really willing to stay with him for the long run even though her heart was not here.
“Good morning, gorgeous,” said Thawn Oberhauser who somehow managed to startle Lorry despite having been looking right at him as he woke up.
“Today’s a big day for me. Are you ready to help me celebrate it?”
Lorry’s guilt had almost made her forget. The Heart-break City pay-per-view was tonight and Thawn was headlining it across from King Solo. “Don’t you first have to win the title before you plan your celebration?”
Thawn scoffed. “No negative energy today, Lorry. Please.”
Lorry feigned the best smile she could. “Of course, baby. You’re right. I’ll think positive.”
Thawn smiled but Lorry couldn’t tell if it was genuine. “Good. Now let’s get up and get dressed. I want to go down to the Speedway as soon as possible.”
Lorry furrowed her brow. “The Fuel Speedway? But the race is at Riverside, isn’t it? And doesn’t Heart-Break City only start in the evening?”
Thawn looked at her like he always did when he knew something she didn’t: like she was an idiot. “I know where and when the pay-per-view is, Lorry. But my practice session is at the Speedway. So, get dressed, okay?”
As Thawn disappeared to the bathroom and began running the shower, Lorry’s phone buzzed and she looked at the incoming text and immediately felt a shiver travel up her spine. “I can’t wait to see you tonight, Rosebud.”
While Lorry’s guilt was at an all-time high, she couldn’t help but smile at the message. Jim always had a way of making her feel good. It was one of the main reasons she’d decided to cheat on Thawn with him.
LATER AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY
As Lorry covered her ears, watching Thawn trying to break the sound barrier, circling the eerily empty racetrack, Lorry couldn’t help but wonder about the true weight of Thawn’s pull in the Formula-X series. Contrary to what Thawn believed, Lorry was actually well-versed with how Formula-X worked including being aware that during the week, between episodes of Fuel, each F-X racer had a couple of hours to train. But that training took place on the Clubhouse track, next door to the Speedway. Thawn was currently circling the actual speedway. It was also rare to be allowed a practice session on the night of a P.P.V. yet somehow, Thawn had pulled it off.
While Thawn continued to attempt to top his own speed, Lorry’s phone buzzed again and she looked at the screen, almost blushing.
Sooo, what you wearing?
She decided to respond. Jim, stop. Are you mad? He’s going to find out if he sees me texting someone else when I’m with him. She put the phone away, expecting him to heed her warning but then her phone buzzed again.
If you're ‘with him’ right now then how are you answering?
She replied quickly. He’s practicing at the moment.
Perfect. Then I could even call you.
Lorry’s smile widened, the excitement of such a dangerous thing making her seriously contemplate it until she saw that she was no longer the only one in the stands. Don’t call. DON’T call. I’m not alone anymore.
“Hey,” said a pretty but tough-looking blonde woman. “What are you doing here?”
“Jeez Penny,” said another younger woman with a dark complexion. “I mean do you have to be rude to everyone?” She turned to Lorry. “Hi, Stevie,” she said with a wave. “You’re Lorrain, right?”
Lorry nodded but saw that Penny Potgieter needed more convincing. “Yeah. I’m Thawn’s girlfriend.”
“Really, I thought you two broke up,” said Penny, not any more polite than before.
“Very briefly,” explained Lorry. “Are you two also here to train?”
“Nah,” said Stevie. “We’re playing reserve tonight so no races for us.”
“Speak for yourself, miss ‘Diamond in the Rough’,” said Penny. “I don’t know why she came here but I came to try and convince Moodswing to put me on the racecard."
“An idiot’s ploy if you ask me,” said Stevie. "Coming here on the day of the pee-pee-vee expecting either Glen or Moodswing to change the line-up because you asked.”
“Well nobody asked you and I happen to be the reigning three-time Duchess of Drag, okay. If anyone deserves to be on that racecard, I do.”
As they continued to argue, Lorry’s phone buzzed again and she took it out to read another text. Fine, I won’t call. But then you have to dance with me tonight at the Valentine’s Day Dance.
Stevie and Penny noticed Lorry rolling her eyes and smiling at her phone. “Okay, now considering that your beau is down there on the racetrack, who is sending you texts that are making you blush?” asked Penny.
“No one,” said Lorry a little too quickly.
“Mhmm,” said an unconvinced Penny. “Well if you are stepping out on him, good for you. Thawn doesn’t deserve you in his life. Nor does he deserve the Crown.”
“I don’t know,” said Stevie. “Just because he’s a jerk doesn’t mean he may not be the best racer in the series.”
Penny turned to Stevie. “You think he’s the best?”
“He is the best.” It was Lorry who answered, deciding to obfuscate the truth by showing some loyalty. “Thawn works hard and I know he’s a jerk sometimes but when it comes to racing, there’s no one better.”
“Hmm,” said Penny again. “Care to make a wager on that?” When Lorry just looked at her, Penny walked into her personal space. “What do you say we bet on the feature race tonight? If your boyfriend wins, then I don’t tell him that you’ve been sneaking around with Jim Kieck behind his back.” Lorry’s eyes widened involuntarily, officially confirming what Penny knew. “If Solo wins then I take this story to Sherry Detwiler and make it headline news. Deal?”
Lorry knew that there wasn’t really another option. However, she also knew how good Thawn was and was willing to roll the dice on his abilities. “Deal.”
LATER AT HEART-BREAK CITY
THE SUPPORT RACES
After his practice session, Thawn had taken Lorry out for a surprisingly fancy late lunch, clearly not joking about celebrating his victory. He was all smiles when he arrived at the P.P.V. track, clearly eager to get “his” Crown back while Lorry wore a wearier smile, trying to concentrate less on her wager and more on Thawn’s confidence.
As the P.P.V. got on the way, Lorry was happy to hear that she wasn’t the only one that had made a bet on the races. Blackcat Mathunzi – the so-called Master Spell-Castor and Fiona’s opening contest were now a One Kilometer Derby. And as with all previous One K.M. Derbies, this one was raced for personal stakes. The announcer revealed what they were: if Fiona won, she’d get to take the lead with the next spell, but if Blackcat won, she’d have to stop complaining about his spells until the end of the season.
The race was not as beautiful as Derbies previous but it still thrilled enough to get the thousands of fans in attendance ready for the other marque contests. Fiona also proved to be the better between them with jokes springing up on the Formulary that Fiona had “out-spelled the Master”.
The next race didn’t have any wagers but the stakes were as high as ever as Brenda & Doris Koek took on inaugural former Relay Barons, Longitude & Latitude to determine who would face Blackcat & Fiona at the next P.P.V. This race had all the hallmarks that had come to be expected by the fandom as they were on their feet for most of the race and cheering at every overtake. The ending was as nail-biting as some P.P.V. feature races as Brenda managed to garner a win for her team by the skin of her teeth, finding the narrowest of gaps to squeak past in the last lap.
Penny had joined Lorry by the time the next race got underway. “So how are you feeling? Nervous some?”
Lorry shook her head. “Excited. I know how good Thawn is so I’m not worried.”
“Mhmm, but I know how good Solo is so I know you should be worried.”
Lorry looked at Penny. “Why did you make this bet, Penny? You literally have nothing to gain. Or do you get off on the misery of others?”
“None of the above. This is just good old-fashioned jealousy. Thawn has something I want badly and having him get humiliated the same way he did last year, just sounds like a good consolation prize.”
He has something she wants? Lorry thought about that before coming to the realization. “You want his title shot?”
“Close enough. Actually, as it stands now, I’m content with my one title. But what I do want; something that Number One Claimants and Kings alike are both afforded, is the chance to headline a pay-per-view. Thawn had his chance last year. I mean, he headlined the first six pay-per-views for Heaven’s sake. Now someone else should get a chance. He doesn’t deserve this.”
Lorry thought about that and couldn’t help but believe her. “Would it shock you if I agreed with you?”
Penny raised her eyebrows. “What happened to ‘he works hard’; ‘he’s the best’ and all that?”
“It doesn’t mean he should be hogging the spotlight indefinitely. Besides, Thawn doesn’t need the ego boost.”
Penny simply smiled, enjoying the common ground. However, she lost it when the announcer announced the stipulation of the Kloof vs. Xulu contest. “But I might need one after this. I mean, c’mon. Mandla and John aren’t even in the drag racing division.”
For once, Lorry was at a loss about the inner workings of the series, having not realized that there were actually divisions in the series. Nevertheless, her lack of knowledge on the series’ mythology did not keep her from enjoying the short but spectacular race between these two rivals. Despite John getting what he wanted out of the race – to bank on the profile of the race in order to get a bigger paycheck – Lorry was sure the outcome was less than what John wanted: Mandla had won.
Before the next race began, they were joined by the absolute last person that Lorry wanted to see here. When Penny saw him, she couldn’t help but smile. “Hello ladies,” said Jim Kieck.
“What are you doing here?” asked Lorrain, a little too familiar for her own liking. She immediately regretted it.
“Just supporting my fellow racers.”
Penny decided to mess with Lorry, her sneaky smile giving it away. “Do you two know each other?” After sharing a look, they both shook their heads. “Good,” Penny continued. “Because Jim, there’s something I want to ask you.”
“This should be good,” said Jim with that sexy smirk on his face.
“Will you be my date to the Dance tonight?” Jim was at a loss for words but his eyes deceived him as he instinctively shot a glance at Lorry. Penny didn’t wait for an answer. “I mean, you don’t have a date, do you? Last year you showed up without one so I thought maybe this year you’d do the same thing.”
Jim hesitated before answering, sighing heavily. “Well, you know me. The quintessential free agent.”
“So that’s a yes then?”
“Not quite. First, I want to know why you’re asking me? You could have asked anyone.” Jim pointed down to the racetrack where Touch Mkhize and Styles Sithole had just shot off their marks. “You could have asked Touch or Styles, so why ask me?”
“Is it that hard to imagine that I might be attracted to you?” said Penny in her most flirtatious voice.
However, Jim knew this game way too well to fall for it. “No, but I know that you’re not. You’re only attracted to popularity and the power it brings you which brings me back to my question. Touch and Styles, they’re on the racecard meaning you’d get more press taking one of them to this thing.”
“Maybe, but neither of them has ever been Formula-X King, have they?” Penny had invaded Jim’s personal space much in the same way she’d invaded Lorry’s except this time, it was much more intimate.
“And there it is,” said Jim. Despite Penny being so close, Jim had not backed out. In fact, despite knowing very well that Penny was just playing with him, Jim seemed to be into it and was relishing having this pretty blonde woman inches from him.
Lorry didn’t like this at all. But it wasn’t that Jim was flirting with someone else that she didn’t like but rather that it was all a game. None of it was real or honest which made her realize that she was doing the same with Thawn. She was playing with him; making a fool out of him. And regardless of what he deserved on the racetrack, he didn’t deserve that in his love life.
JUST BEFORE THE FEATURE RACE
While Thawn had made it clear that he wanted to be alone during the P.P.V. to focus on the race, Lorry went to find him, not wanting this feeling inside her to linger until after he won the race. She waited until the previous race was over and Touch Mkhize had won before going to his spot in the paddock and asking to speak to him.
“So what couldn’t wait until our celebration tonight?”
“There’s something I have to tell you, Thawn. It’s about us?”
“What about us, Lorry?”
She didn’t know how to put it so she put it bluntly. “It’s a lie. I’ve been seeing someone else since the moment we got back together.” Lorry braced for the shouting but it didn’t come.
Instead, tranquil fury raged on inside ‘The Impaler’. “Someone else?” She nodded. “Tell me it’s not that playboy, Jim Kieck.”
Despite the theme of this revelation, Lorry decided to lie to spare Jim any culpability. “No. It’s someone else.”
“Yeah, I got the ‘someone else’ part. I want to know who.”
“It’s not about them or what they did. It’s about me and what I’ve done.”
Thawn continued to react in the complete opposite way she had expected. “Well what you did is actually pretty clear it’s who you did that’s not. But we can speak about this tonight when we get home.”
Now Lorry was dumbfounded. “Thawn, did you hear a word I said? I cheated on you.”
“And if you think that means you get to humiliate me by not going to this Dance tonight then you’re sadly mistaken. Now, I don’t know what you hoped to achieve by telling me this before my title race but you better hope that I can still pull this off otherwise—”
“—otherwise what, Thawn?” Was he threatening to hurt her in some way?
“Otherwise,” he said finishing his sentence, “you may never get out of this relationship.”
As Thawn got in The Devil’s Advocate and made his way to the racetrack, Lorry thought about the lunacy that had just happened. Had he heard anything she’d just said? What kind of person spoke about going home with a person that cheated on them? Had last year’s V-Day Ball been that humiliating that this was better than just breaking things off?
As the feature race raged on, Lorry thought about her dilemma and realized that Thawn’s strange threat was actually pretty scary: the idea of staying with an angry Thawn Oberhauser for who knew how long. While it occurred to Lorry that since they weren’t actually married, nothing could compel her to stay, it had also occurred to her that the only reason she was here in the first place was for the social standing and now Thawn was using that against her.
Lorry was distracted from her own thoughts by the sound of the crowd which was electric. Clearly, the idea that Thawn and Solo had raced multiple times before had not made this race boring at all as they were glued to the action. Just seeing the race, Lorry knew that this would be one for the ages. With her secret now out, Lorry no longer felt as invested in Thawn winning as she had been before regardless of his threat. He didn’t deserve to win.
Despite changing her tune on the race, Lorry still felt that Thawn also didn’t deserve to be humiliated so she would go with him to the Dance and then no more. Her eyes were just as glued as everyone else when King Solo picked up the victory thus successfully defending his title. And while Lorry had no intention of humiliating Thawn, it seemed the F-X King had no qualms as he paused the Winner’s Circle interview just long enough to introduce his own special guest: the Mayor of the City of Ngelosi.
Thawn, forced to leave the track with his tail between his legs, got to Lorry and said, “This is your fault.”
But Lorry knew better. She knew that Thawn had brought most of this on himself by being a lousy boyfriend. In fact, she couldn’t help but smile thinking of the name of the P.P.V. and how it suited Thawn just right.