Thank you to everyone for all the encouraging feedback following Ten Step Stories’ debut. I haven’t really written fiction for a couple of years so it was a bit of a push to hit the publish button. I’m glad I did though. Thank you.
The voting was close. On the first day, it looked as though Mitch would be heading over to beat the living daylights out of his rival, but in the end, sense appears to have won out, and it’s a debrief for our rookie. The votes were as follows.
Now, onwards and upwards.
A strong hand dropped onto Mitch’s shoulder, steering him towards the pit wall. “It’s not worth it,” Bob said in his ear. “People have been sacked for less.” He pointed to a stool. “Sit there, put those on, and smile at the cameras.” He handed him some headphones and a bottle of water, before turning his attention to the screens.
John Mitchell watched and listened as his teammate overtook another car. He learnt the process of being called to a pit stop early, and spun round on his seat to watch the mechanics at work. He hadn’t managed to take his first real pit stop yet, and the knowledge made him burn inside.
It didn’t help as he watched Bruno overtake yet again, nor when he had to watch his team mate climb up to the podium. It really didn’t help when his team debrief ended after only a few moments.
There’s not much to say about a 100 metre race.
“Third place is a great start to the year for Shuttleworth Racing,” Rex Shuttleworth said, leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head. “You did us proud Bruno.”
Canelli blushed, grateful at the praise, slightly embarrassed at the attention. Rex nodded towards the door, and the Italian got up. Mitch watched his teammate go, then looked back at Rex. Was he about to get a lecture? Did his boss get angry when they failed? There were so many unknowns at a new team, a new discipline. Mitch felt his palms sweating slightly.
“Look, Mr Shuttleworth,” he said, deciding to take a pre-emptive approach. “I was gutted when Mason knocked me out of the race but it wasn’t my fault.”
Rex waved a hand, dismissively. “Of course. Mortimer’s had it in for us for a long time. You were just a casualty of that. You think we judge drivers on the first corner of their first race?”
“I would,” Mitch said.
Rex nodded. “You’re right, we do. You get knocked out at the first corner, how you react shows your true mettle. You did well. If you don’t get knocked out at the first corner, well, if you’d made it through, what would have happened then?”
“I would have won.”
Laughter. “So naive. What you need to understand, John, is that you are in the top formula now, and overtaking isn’t easy. Bruno had a good race, a lucky one, and scored us a third place. We haven’t won for two years, and it would have been a minor miracle for you to have done that.”
“You had a good start, John, and you already raised eyebrows with your qualifying performance. The race was unfortunate but it doesn’t change things. We’re proud to have you on the team too.”
The nod towards the door was issued, and Mitch left the room. He felt miserable. Far from comforting him, Shuttleworth’s words had made him feel patronised. The new boy.
“How’d it go?” Bob asked, appearing out of another office further down the hall.
Mitch jogged over to him and sighed. “Oh, you know, not quite fired yet.”
Bob smiled. “You’re good,” he said. “You’ve got potential. Rex can see that.”
“Yea, well, it should be more than potential. I was ready.” He paused for a moment, running a hand through his hair. “Hey, you know, Mr Shuttleworth said Mortimer’s been after us for a long time. What’s that mean?”
“You must have done your research,” Bob said, rolling his eyes when Mitch shrugged. “Youngsters these days, honestly. Let me tell you the problem between Shuttleworth Racing and Mortimer GP.”
What is the problem?