The Magic Kings

Magic Kings

Only one child died on Kings Road.

There were dozens of car accidents on Kings and sometimes people died in those. But there was only one kid who was killed on his bike. Still, his death was all the motivation we needed to stay off that road. Parents do not even want their kids to cross it at the stoplights. Zak’s mom calls it “a four-lane menace with a changing lane of doom.”

No road within the city limits is busier than Kings, and there are no sidewalks. On a bike, you could navigate over the bumps and dividers along some of the parking lot entrances (if you didn’t mind a slow and butt-aching ride), but there were still other stretches where the space between fast-moving hunks of metal and a wall of trees was less than a few feet. The scariest part was the bridge over the river, especially where it curves on its side as you head down into Middle Village. The guardrail has all kinds of scratches across it from drivers who underestimated the curve.

According to legend, a boy named Stephen Forth hit only a pebble with his front tire on the curve, but the way he hit it jerked his wheel enough to throw him into the guardrail. He bounced back and then was nicked by an SUV, which sent him spinning out into the road. The car behind the SUV couldn’t stop in time and Stephen was done for.

Maybe accidents were in Stephen’s blood. I wonder sometimes if they are in mine. My father was in the army, and my mother said that even though he was in real combat a few times, he never got shot. Then one day a plane on the tarmac at his base crashed into another plane and my dad happened to be too close to the impact. The fireball engulfed him and some of his friends, and they all joined Stephen Forth up in heaven.

I can’t remember if I thought of my dad when I rode my bike down Kings Road on November 10, 2001. I only remember the date because Zak wrote it down. That was the day I wanted to go where nobody—not even my best friend—would follow. I wanted to be alone, even if it meant becoming the second kid to die on Kings Road.

– Prologue to The Magic Kings