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Daz's hawk was like listening to a jet engine taking off. It started as a dull growl from the back of his throat which quickly grew into a bubbling roar like someone was frying sausages on his tonsils. Then, with a soft wet explosion, the ball of spit soared across the classroom, arcing gracefully over the heads of several pupils before landing with a plop in the bucket beside Mr Watson's desk.

Leatherneck stopped writing midway through the word "phlegm" and snapped his head away from the whiteboard, glaring at the back of the class. I peeked over my shoulder to see Daz rocking his chair back on two legs idly chewing what was left of his last snotty projectile. He flashed the teacher a grin before noisily swallowing the mess in his mouth.

'Daniel Edwards.' 

I turned back to face Leatherneck Watson as the teacher spoke, the vast collar of fat around his face trembling like it always did when the he was emotional. The teacher stared into the bucket with eyes as wide as pickled eggs, his cheeks turning the same shade of red as the pen he still held. 'I can't believe you just did that again.'

Here we go, I thought, watching Leatherneck's face swell up like he was about to explode. He reacted the same way every time Daz launched a spitball in his direction. You'd have thought he'd be used to it by now.

'Congratulations!' the teacher went on, clapping his hands together. 'You astound me. Your production rate, your aim,' he tipped the bucket with his foot and listened to the sound of sloshing from inside, 'the consistency. You needn't worry about your grades this term, Daniel, I think the school will make some new rules for our number one spitter, hm?'

A groan rippled across the class from door to window, followed by a collection of nervous snorts as several pupils tried, and failed, to form loogies of their own. I sucked some air through my nose in a vain attempt to pull some mucus into my mouth but it was no use, my throat was as dry as a bone and all I succeeded in producing was a symphony of wheezing coughs.

Mr Watson looked at me and shook his head like I'd just failed my two-times table, and I could hear Daz snigger. Everyone else was too embarrassed by their own efforts to turn in my direction, but I knew what they were thinking. Pete can't spit. He's a drythroat. He's costing us points. And as for the girls, who'd want to date a guy who can't even snotsnog?

My shuddering sigh was lost behind the siren announcing lunchtime. Slinging everything into my bag I joined the tide as everyone stomped towards the doors, looking back just once as I was pushed out into the corridor.

Leatherneck Watson had dipped his finger into the bucket and brought out a string of yellow phlegm which hung from his chubby digit like translucent spaghetti. After admiring it for a second he popped his finger into his mouth and sucked, the tentacle of snot disappearing between his fat lips like a snake.

Damn teachers, I thought, my stomach rumbling. Always keep the best for themselves.

* * *

As always, the lunch hall sounded like it was home to an orchestra of repulsive throat instruments all playing out of time. The bulk of the noise was coming from the far end of the huge room, where the champion spitters reclined on red velvet chairs and disgorged their own lunch onto delicate china plates.

I watched Daz stride over, watched him hawk up another snotball and bare it proudly between his teeth as he sat down next to Lisa Green, watched her conjure up a loogie of her own before pressing her lips against his. I felt my cheeks flush and turned away just in time to see Clara head in my direction, already holding dinner plates.

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