The Nutty Neigh­bour­hood Block Party

Chap­ter 7: A Spit­ting Dis­pute

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - STORY BY STACY TORNIO IL­LUS­TRA­TIONS BY ROEL WIELINGA To be con­tin­ued Mon­day. Next Time: Take Me out to the Ball Game

The story so far: Dur­ing the block party’s seed-spit­ting con­test, Henry has just ac­cused Sarah of cheat­ing.

The crowd starts buzzing with whis­pers.

“Sarah the seed-spit­ting cham­pion is a cheater?”

“I al­ways thought she looked sus­pi­cious.”

“So that’s how she did it all those years!”

Mrs. Rogers walks up to Henry. Ev­ery­one is watch­ing.

“What are you talk­ing about?” she asks him. “This!” Henry says. He picks up Sarah’s glass of wa­ter. Each spit­ter is al­lowed to drink wa­ter be­tween spits.

“You’d bet­ter tell me what’s go­ing on, Henry,” Mrs. Rogers says.

“This isn’t wa­ter,” Henry says. “This is soda. Sarah’s been drink­ing soda to build up more saliva. She’s a cheater!”

The crowd starts buzzing again. Sarah is a tough com­peti­tor, but I don’t be­lieve she’s a cheater.

“Wait a minute,” I say. “There’s one way to find out.” “How?” Mrs. Rogers asks. “Taste it,” I say. “Yeah,” Sarah says. “Taste it.” Mrs. Rogers takes a drink. Then she looks at Henry.

“No,” she says. “Sarah is not a cheater. This is wa­ter.”

“But … I thought …I …” Henry stam­mers. He knows he’s lost the bat­tle. The sec­ond round be­gins. Sarah spits even far­ther. So does Henry. They are clearly the top two spit­ters in the neigh­bour­hood.

They flip a coin at the be­gin­ning of the third round. Sarah loses the toss. She has to spit first. I look around the back yard. The crowd is re­ally big now.

Mrs. Rogers gives Sarah her first seed. Sarah swishes it around in her mouth. Af­ter one minute, she spits it through the air. It lands on the far edge of the blue tarp. The crowd cheers.

“We’d bet­ter get another tarp,” Mrs. Rogers says. “Some­one might set a new record.”

They mark Sarah’s seed and add another tarp. When Henry gets his seed, he rolls it around in his mouth. I can see him bit­ing it with his teeth. He looks mad. “SPIT,” Mrs. Rogers says. Henry’s seed soars across the back yard. It lands just out­side of Sarah’s. The crowd cheers again. When Sarah spits her sec­ond seed, it barely goes 5 feet, far short of the first seed.

“Awww,” the crowd says in uni­son. Henry laughs. “Ha!” he says. Sarah looks wor­ried. Henry spit his sec­ond seed even far­ther than the first. “How do you like that?” he asks. Sarah looks out at the crowd. Then she looks over at her sis­ter.

“You’ve got this, Sarah,” Madi­son says. “Just pre­tend we’re prac­tic­ing at home.”

Sarah puts the seed in her mouth. She closes her eyes.

“That’s right, Sarah,” her sis­ter says un­der her breath.

Af­ter a minute, Sarah opens her eyes. “SPIT!” Mrs. Rogers says. Sarah doesn’t even hes­i­tate. She grabs onto the deck rail­ing and lunges for­ward. The seed flies past Henry’s first two seeds. The crowd goes wild.

Henry takes his third seed and grinds it with his teeth. When it’s time, he throws his head side­ways and the seed takes off.

It lands inches be­hind Sarah’s. Or was that inches in front of Sarah’s? Which seed be­longs to which spit­ter? The crowd doesn’t know how to re­act. No one is sure.

“I WIN, I WIN, I WIN!” Henry shouts.

“Wait a minute,” Mrs. Rogers says. “We’re go­ing to have to take a closer look at this.”

She walks up to the seeds. She turns back to Mr. Allen. He is the of­fi­cial judge.

“Who won?” she asks him. He shrugs his shoul­ders. Mrs. Rogers looks back at Sarah and Henry.

“Maybe we should do one more round,” Sarah says.

“No way,” Henry says, grind­ing his teeth. “I’m the win­ner. That’s my seed,” he in­sists, point­ing to the far­thest seed.

“Wait a minute,” I say to Mrs. Rogers. “I don’t think we need to do another round.”

“You don’t know any­thing,” Henry says to me.

Now I don’t feel bad that Sarah is my fa­vorite spit­ter. I walk up to the two seeds and ex­am­ine them. Yep, just what I thought.

“I know ex­actly who the win­ner is,” I an­nounce.

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