Bart sighed and shifted on his horse. "Fine, but no questions."

"I was born out east, a right proper city slicker.  When I was about ten years old, my Ma died, and my Pa decided he needed something different, so he started workin' on the railroad, and brought me along with him.  For a while, things were going all right, and I could almost forget about my Ma, well, not really forget, but kinda not be so sad about it, the western air was good for me.  Pa and I were doing pretty well until one day, when I was 17 or so, we were riding the train out to Denver to see if we could get in on the gold there.  Our train never made it.  We were stopped by a band of the filthiest scum to every mount a horse.  They killed the engineer and stopped the train, then they came waltzin' back to the passenger cars and told everyone to start runnin' or get shot.  A couple of men tried to stop them, but like they said, the bandits shot 'em dead.  So the rest of us get off the train just as quick as we can, only before all of us are off, the bandits get all impatient and start shootin' wily nilly into the crowd of people tryin' to get off.  My Pa got hit in the leg.  We both made it off the train and out of range all right, but then Pa just collapsed."

Bart stopped talking, his head hung low, and his vioce was barely above a whisper.  He took a deep, somewhat shaky breath and continued:

"He just fell over on the ground, and there was nothing I could do.  I tried to stop the bleedin' but there was just so much, and there was nothin' I  could do but sit there and watch him die.  And he was tryin' to say something, but he couldn't seem to put it into words, and he just moved his mouth like a fish out of water.  Then he took one last breath, and his eyes closed forever.  I sat there a long time, waiting for him to wake up, but he never did.  I woke up on the middle of the night, it was pitch black, and there was nobody around except for my Pa's body.  A sudden terror overtook me, and I just started runnin'.  I didn't know where I was goin' and I didn't care, I just kept runnin'.  Three days later I stumbled into Blue Ridge, a small town that ain't even there anymore, I was as close to bein' dead as I ever have been, and I fainted clean away in front of the General store.  The town Doc. fixed me up pretty good, and since I had nowhere to go, I signed on as a ranch hand for one of the gentlemen of the town.  I worked hard in those days keepin' the cattle safe from rustlers, and I did a dern good job too.  Eventually, the gentleman passed away from old age, and as he and I had grown friendly, he left me a small sum of cash, and the claim to a mine in Califonia.  I took the money and set out for the claim, it took me three months, and I nearly died more times that I care to count, but I made it to the end of the west.  When I finally found the claim, it turned out to be a bust.  I was as far from civilization as a man could get, and all my money was gone, so I put myself up as a gun for hire, and I been that way ever since.  I've fought on both side of pretty much every war, both side o' the law too, doin' whatever I can to earn my bread.  I made a lot of enemies, and some friends, all who probably want me dead, but none have been sharper than me."

When Bart stopped, the silence became deafening.

"So how did you meet Flint?" Bonnie asked

"I said no questions, but that's not my story to tell, you'll have to ask ole' Iron Hand yerself"

The End

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