Gunslinger
Chapter 8

Copyright© 2006 by R. Michael Lowe aka The Scot. All rights reserved

Bart returned to the hotel. He knocked on Bonnie’s door and asked her if she’d like to go for a walk around the town. It was dark, but there were lanterns along the street and on the fronts of buildings. There was a gentle southerly breeze, and it was comfortable enough for her to need only a light wrap.

“How did it go with Sam regarding the general store?” Bart asked.

“He was open to the idea, but he would still like to be involved. We also discussed getting him a house instead of him living in the back of the store. I thought it was a good idea, as it’d also provide more space for merchandise and storage.”

“Does he have any kin to leave the store to when he dies?”

“I don’t think so. He lost his only son in the same battle where Angus was killed.”

“Then the store is his ‘baby.’ I don’t want fights with him over policy decisions, or the direction we may take the store. If he can live with that, then I think it’d be good to have his continued presence.”

Bonnie responded, “I don’t see it being a problem. He’s just excited with the idea of the store expanding and the hope of this town coming alive again. In a way, it’s like his child has grown up to the point of taking a wife. It’s not his wife, but it’s still his family.”

Bart squeezed Bonnie’s hand and said, “I like that analogy. Maybe we can give him some grandchildren to go with it.”

“I’m not sure how to take that one.”

“That’s okay. It will give us more to discuss in the future.”

“Bart. Will there honestly be a future for us?”

“I certainly hope so. If not, I’m sure committing a lot of money for nothing.” Then taking her in his arms he said, “Bonnie, I want to marry you, but I’m really wrestling with some things at the moment.”

“The girl you lost? The one you were planning to marry?”

“That’s part of it. It hasn’t even been two months yet.”

“I can wait, but I do have one question. Are you afraid to introduce me to your father? Are you ashamed of me?”

“That’s two questions. But the answer to both is ‘no.’ Unfortunately, from there it gets much more complicated.”

In answering the questions Bart really thought of his father for the first time in weeks. As a result, he started crying, something Bonnie had never seen a grown man do. She asked, “Are you alright?”

“Answering your questions made me think about how Dad would have loved you. It caused me to miss him so much.”

“But aren’t you supposed to see him in a few days?”

Caught in the lie Bart remembered something his Mom used to say about weaving a tangled web when attempting to deceive; and how one lie just led to another and another. At that point, Bart made a critical decision, and said, “Bonnie, let’s go back to the hotel for a few minutes. I need to show you something and then we need to talk. We can’t start or continue this relationship on a pack of lies.”

“Are you wanted for something, or already married?”

“No, nothing like that. The Sheriff has already figured it out, and I’d bet money you would too, eventually. Now, can you be patient with me for a few minutes?”

“Bart, I’d be patient with you forever, but let’s hurry. You’ve really pricked my curiosity.” Bart almost laughed at the conflicting thoughts. In spite of it, he did hurry. In fact, he hurried so much he stopped using his cane.

Noticing the difference as they approached the hotel, Bonnie remarked, “Your foot’s better.”

“It’s been better. It still gets tired, but the cane is part of the image I need to portray.”

“Were you really hurting when you came to my place?”

“Yes, Bonnie, I was. Besides, I didn’t know who you were or what your circumstances were. I used none of that to get to your door or get a drink of water. Now, please sit here on the porch for a minute, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

When Bart hadn’t returned almost ten minutes later Bonnie was getting fearfully exasperated. Surely,’she thought, it shouldn’t have taken him this long. Maybe I should ignore what the others in this town think and go to his room. I hope he didn’t fall trying to rush.

Thus, when he did appear she immediately jumped into his arms. “You didn’t miss me did you?”

“Bart, after the way you left things hanging I wasn’t sure you’d be coming back.”

“I understand, and you don’t need that uncertainty. At least in areas I can control. Here, let’s sit here in these chairs. Hopefully no one will bother us, or be able to hear what I have to say. Now, before I start I need your solemn promise not to tell anyone what I’m about to reveal to you. I also need you to promise to hear me out before you react or form any judgments.”

“Bart, I promise. With my whole heart, I promise.”

“Now, also understand I’m doing this with a lot of fear, as this knowledge could be very dangerous to both of us, especially you. I’m only doing this because I’m falling in love with you, and I don’t want there to be any lies or dishonesty between us.”

A frightened Bonnie nodded and said, “I’m ready.”

“Okay. What I want to do is first show you something and then tell you what are the truths, what are the lies, and most importantly, why. Now, first take this Bible.”

“Do you need me to swear on the Bible?”

“No, I want you to open it and look at the date it was published. You might have to step into the lobby to see it.”

“I think I can get enough light through this window. What a minute, this can’t be right! This date is more than a hundred and fifty year in the future!”

“It is right. This was the Bible Doctor Rosen brought with him, though I’m not sure why, except to hide some papers inside. Maybe he thought no one would suspect him of being a Jew if he carried a Bible.”

“So, you’re from the future? Will you be going back?”

“No, it’s a one way trip, and if what I was told is correct, there will not be any more time travelers for a long time, if ever. As for the lies, they’re related to my cover story. They mostly concern where I’m from and my family, and to explain the money I have.”

Bonnie’s anger, as well as fear, was showing in the redness of her face and neck. Her hands were gripping Rosen’s Bible so hard Bart thought she’d leave permanent dents in the cover. Her eyes were flashing in anger while the rest of her face expressed confusion and uncertainty.

Finally, she asked, “Bart, or whoever you are, why did you come here? To steal our land? To make a mockery of me?” Starting to cry, she continued, “Why? Just tell me why?”

Almost in tears himself over her reaction Bart answered, “Bonnie, my darling, I’m here to stop the people that murdered my father and Jennifer from killing General Grant. They want to prolong the war or for the South to win. Not because they’re for the South, but to change the future and keep the United States from becoming the great nation it will become. I didn’t come to hurt you, nor do I plan to leave you. I have to take care of my mission, but then I plan to grow old with you.”

“If this is true, why did they send someone as young as you? Also, why didn’t they send more people for something so important?”

“The element that’s required to travel in time is very rare. There was only enough to send three people. The first two were Doctor Rosen and his partner. We soon learned Rosen had killed his partner and taken the money. It was pretty obvious he’d abandoned the mission. Since I happened to be the fastest gun available they used the last of the material to send me here to save the future.”

Her eyes squinted in concentration, Bonnie said. “So, you’re from the future, you’re not Canadian and your family doesn’t have a big ranch. What about your foot?”

“I was climbing the hill to the house after getting the mail. Dad and Jennifer were still in the car when these men blew it up with something like a shoulder mounted cannon. The explosion blew me backwards and over a wall. I crushed the bones in my right heel, and my head took a heavy blow. I’m still recovering, but my foot will never be totally right.”

“What’s a car?”

“Imagine an enclosed carriage that moves without horses.”

“And the story about being Canadian looking for breeding stock?”

“It was to give me a legitimate reason for traveling the country and not being in the Army. It was my idea, as I spent several years in France with my father, and I speak French fluently. Being from another country and culture would also help cover any small mistakes I might make. Buying breeding stock was a cover for having access to so much money. The money was actually my pay for giving up my life there to come here. I have the one task to do, then I’m free to live my life as I see fit. This is the life I want to live, and I want to live it with you.”

Bonnie studied his face for several minutes before she smiled and said, “Bart, I believe you, and I’m glad you told me the truth. Now, what’s the real story about this trip to Chicago to see your father?”

“Bonnie, I need to be on the eastbound train in Cairo, Illinois, on October nineteenth. That’s when and where General Grant will board the train headed for Indianapolis. From there he goes to Chattanooga where he’ll begin the push to end this war in the west. In my history the war ends in less than eighteen months. For the sake of our present and this nation’s future I’ve got to make sure that happens.”

“Okay, You’ve told me the lies and circumstances, and I don’t have a problem with anything you’ve told me. Now, tell me about the real Bart Simpson.”

Bart laughed. “Bonnie, that’s one lie I didn’t think about. Bart Simpson is a fictional character from my time period. He was a real bad boy, always getting himself and others into trouble. It was my hope if someone from my time heard the name they’d reveal it in their laugh, or facial expressions. My real name is Kevin McKinsey and I’m not quite eighteen. I was a star football player until my heel was crushed, but football wouldn’t make any sense to you at this point. Let’s just say it’s a very popular game in my time. My mother died when I was ten, and my father pretty much took care of me until he was killed.”

“What did he do?”

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