Mooching… that’s something you know quite a lot about, huh, Mark?

“A little fishing” “That old bird.” Those of us who (sadly?  Tragically?) follow this strip every day know that this is all part of the patter that envelopes the scenes and characters in the Trailverse.  But let’s review the last couple of days… Mark and his irritating ward have put themselves on the water in record time.  Normally there is a day or two spent in the International Harvester Travel-All without seatbelts or head rests, where Mark and Rusty engage in some dialogue meant to set up the next story… But not this time.  No sooner have they slung gravel in the driveway of Lost Forest than they are out on the water.  We don’t know what they are fishing for or with.  This is all highly irregular…

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And normally, the bird in the panel one would be the “throwaway” wildlife that shows up in every strip, meant to keep us all aware of the Importance of Nature…

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But no, we are introduced to “Jessica Canupp”  who lives on “Pelican Point.”  Again, first and last names, and would appear to be a real person… And It would seem now that she and the bird are now central to our story.

A couple of points, though:  Mark, how do you know that this is a Male Pelican?  And don’t you realize that once you feed a Pelican, it will attract other Pelicans and pretty soon you are re-creating a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds?”  And finally, who is calling who a mooch?  Look who’s been living off the largesse of one Dr. “Doc” Davis for years, only finally submitting to marrying his daughter Cherry just to make it all seem “right?”

Mark has his “go bag” in his hand

Get your gear, Rusty.  Now.  We have to leave.  Right away.

Mark has his bag ready and packed for these moments when he feels like his past is catching up with him…  “Doc, Cherry, you coming?”  “Oh no, we are staying home, Mark.”  What ‘s with the big grin on Doc’s face?  Just knowing that he won’t have to deal with Rusty?  Did Mark even sleep in his own bed?  Probably not, all the better to avoid Cherry’s advances…

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Yes, “have fun,” come the words from over Rusty’s left shoulder… Off he goes to fish for the second time in recent memory.  You know, sort of like the tension that builds when a guy is pushing 30 and has never “known” a woman, all the tension regarding “Rusty going fishing” has been let out of the balloon.  No more playing with his trust or affection.  What fun is that??