Pull up and rest a spell, as I introduce you to the baddest gunslinger these parts have seen in quite some time. Ladies and gents, meet Black Bart.
Chapter I: The Early Days
They say the storm came out of nowhere that January morning when Black Bart made his first appearance. Most folks had never before seen both snow and lightning all at the same time, except perhaps during one of Lamby's Wicca Rituals. There wasn't the instantaneous bonding between a mother and her child that you so often learn about from the Hallmark Channel, but Rosemary had remarkably flexible standards and did eventually adapt to her son after little time had passed. And he in turn took to her breasts as if he had already known of their usefulness from past lives, or perhaps from an innate awareness of the postings on Limpy's blog.
He brought into this world a head of hair as black as Sassy Blondie's heart, and it wasn't long before his body was covered as well (perhaps this was how he differed from Sassy, perhaps not). It was around this time that he acquired his nickname, though it had yet to strike fear in the hearts of both the evil and innocent the way it does today.
If judging by appearance alone, Black Bart was a handsome and appealing young lad, pure as an Altar Boy, and unfortunately for his innocence, just as deferential to authority figures. But there was always an uncertain uneasiness about him. You see, he had a knack for taking an innocent rite of rural adolescence, and twisting it into something perverse or sadistic.
He would earn pennies by shoveling the neighbors' steps and walkways, just for them to subsequently discover - at the most inopportune moments - that their outhouses had completely been filled in with the removed snow.
Oh sure, lots of youngsters would steal the occasional apple pie from the window ledge where it had been left to cool. But only Black Bart would leave the pie in place, carefully extracting only the filling and placing a rat trap under the undisturbed top crust.
Other times he would wear a cap that he turned slightly sideways, and head down to the train depot with his shoeshine kit. Looking like a hapless orphan, he would dupe travelers into 5-cent shines. Often they would tip him a few pennies more for the mirror-like gloss he would coax out of their footwear, only to realize that he had used a razor knife to score the leather so that it would separate from the soles after a half-dozen steps.
And did anyone ever again trust the rope swing by the watering hole after Black Bart was through stringing grids of barbed wire (stolen, of course) beneath the water just far enough to not be seen from above?
The Annual Barn Dance was always THE social event of the season to look forward to, that is, UNTIL Black Bart. What compelled him to lace the punch with laxatives and nail the restroom doors shut? And wasn't that enough to satisfy him? Was it really necessary to pile manure in front of every exit and stampede the horses through as well?
What inspired him to convince the chubby kid down the road that he should carve his own baseball bat out of that lightning-damaged hickory tree? Was it a rare case of encouragement and friendship? Perhaps we will never know, as the same bat - soon after its creation - was later found at the scene of a grisly crime, covered in blood. The chubby kid was quickly convicted and sent away to do hard time at Pelican Island, and hasn't been able to speak since.
Maybe this final "attempt gone awry" to "reach out" to the community and make a positive difference is what finally turned Black Bart onto the dark path of outlaw and gunslinger. Your guess is as good as mine. This will give you something to chew on until our next chapter. Until then, keep your weapons holstered, but keep on the lookout for that desperado known as Black Bart.