“Boys and girls!” the Official called, “take your places please!”
Nervousness rolled through Derek Firkle’s stomach like a tidal wave. The 75th annual Wiberly County Fair Spit-Ball-Wad Contest was about to begin! His Grandpa Buddy, Spit-Ball Champion of 1942 and 1943, had been coaching him for months. With his new knowledge of angles, arcs and perfect aiming, Derek was as ready as he ever would be, but still… He’d never entered anything before, not in all his seven years.
“Owen Leeky,” the Official introduced the first would-be champion, “you’re up.”
The contest got off to a slow start. Owen swallowed his spit-ball and had to chew another. Mary Paloma, second up, misfired. Her spit-ball landed in someone else’s lane entirely. In all the excitement, Derek forgot to be nervous until the official announced, “And last, but not least, Derek Firkle.”
Derek gulped. His palms turned sweaty as he stepped to the starting line. Using Grandpa Buddy’s “special” trick, he rocked back and forth on his heels five times, forward once more (for good luck) and then, cheeks puffed, tongue thrust forward, eyes zeroed in on his goal, he spit. Fling!
Derek blinked into the brilliant blue sky. Was he seeing double? Were there two objects flying through the air? “Hmm?” There was a strange taste in his mouth. His tongue felt a new gap among his teeth. “Oh…” He blushed. It was his spit-ball and his upper right front tooth spinning cartwheels through the air.
Derek held his breath. The spit-ball landed in fourth for distance, but his tooth somersaulted beyond the end of the lanes by three whole feet!
Now the judges were in a predicament. This was a spit-ball contest, and surely Derek’s had only placed fourth, though a beautiful fourth it was. The carefully chewed paper ball had landed perfectly in the center of the white chalk lanes. But, the judges noted, the surprise tooth entry was also perfectly in the center of the lines, and ahead of everything else. So they huddled.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, the awards were announced. Third, second, and first place ribbons all went to others. Derek was getting his tooth when the Official added, “And today, because of the unusual and uncommon circumstances, we want to ask Derek Firkle up here.”
Derek ran to join the judges on stage.
“Not only did your spit-ball land with perfection down the center of the lane,” the Official smiled at Derek, “but so did your tooth, and then some. We think this deserves recognition. So for you, Derek, we have a one of a kind Spit-ball Contest 2005 tee shirt. Well done!”
“Wow! Thanks!” Derek wore the hand-drawn tee shirt proudly.
Derek continued his lessons with Grandpa Buddy. And after awhile it was common to see Derek, wearing his special tee shirt, giving spit-ball lessons to his friends in the park.
Next year at the Wiberly County Fair, Derek was Spit-Ball Champion.
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