When Marcus was eleven, and his little brother Ben was only six, they lived on a boat in the
harbor with their mother, a hard -working grocery store clerk named Kristen Holmes.
Sometimes Ben had trouble sleeping at night, and he would climb to the upper bunk and jab
his brother in the ribs until he woke him up. Marcus would open one eye, and then the other,
and eventually say,
"I can't sleep," Ben would reply, and Marcus knew what that meant. He would sigh and say
"OK," and then they'd both climb down, slip on their shoes, sneak up deck very quietly so as
not to wake their mother, leap onto the dock and head out to the secret sidewalk which was
right across the street behi nd the parking lot.
Usually it was a hot summer night when this happened, and no one else was around, just
Marcus and Ben, some crickets and skunks, and sometimes a bulldog named Sparky who
was supposed to be guarding the fleet, but most of the time did no t.
The sidewalk was hidden between a wall and a hedge, and it basically went nowhere at all. It
was lined with the backs of old buildings, which housed a variety of tenants; a body shop, a
nightclub, a diner, a tattoo parlor, a newsstand, a mysterious dark office and a beauty salon. It
started on Riverside Drive and extended one block, then it came to an end at Battery. The
hedge kept it hidden from view from the lot.
Nobody ever walked on this sidewalk. No one except for the boys. Only they knew why it was
secret and at night, and especially at midnight, and especially at midnight on a hot summer
night when Ben couldn't sleep and their mom didn't know, something remarkable occurred on
this sidewalk, something completely and totally weird.
This sidewalk turned into a city.