I don't expect you to believe this story, but it is the truth. My name is Alexander Ashton. I was born in the heart of the American west. I have often been known to say that I was born either a hundred years too late, or perhaps a hundred years too early. It always seemed to me that I had the misfortune to live in the single most unexciting period of time the panorama of history had to offer. I don't say that I longed to be transported to another time or to another world, for never in my wildest dreams did I believe this to be possible. I was destined to be surprised.
I was born in a small city. I played as a child in a park that was once a dusty street where outlaws of the old west fought famous gunfights. When I was seven, my parents were killed in a motor vehicle accident. I really remember little of them. I was put in a state run children’s home where I lived until I was eighteen, passed by time after time by prospective adoptive parents, primarily because I was too old. I hold no ill feelings about it now. If there is one thing I learned while I was a ward of the state, it is that no matter how bad off one may be, there is always someone worse off than you are.
After graduating high school and being set on my own by the state, I entered college at the local university. I became a voracious reader and excelled in athletics, but did poorly in my required studies. After two semesters of academic probation I was asked to leave. I walked down the street to the Army Recruiter's office and enlisted. There wasn't much to the army, since there was no war on at the time. While I was there, I did learn to shoot, and fight with a saber, and to keep in good physical condition, but otherwise I left the service just as I had gone in.
After finding a new apartment in my old home town, I happened to run into a fellow whom I knew from college. He was running a small grocery store, and doing quite well, since no large grocery chain was interested in such a small market area. He offered me a job, I took it, and we became pretty close friends.