Are those teeth??

Mark, how many people have you punched in your career?  Does your fist get itchy when it goes too long without connecting squarely with a bad guy’s jawbone?  Of course, Marlin threw the first punch, so it’s all self-defense, but it was you Mark, who came back looking for trouble…

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And never have more satisfying words been spoken… “SEA TURTLE EGGS…”

And In case anyone was interested… this is a very serious offense…  we are talking Jail time for violating the Lacey Act…  all for “harvesting” what in some realms is considered a delicacy

First Punch Thrown!

And it’s not from Mark!  We waste no time with idle chatter…  Ethan Fauscett aka “Marlin” has “had it” with Trail… Can you blame him?  Mark not only overstayed his welcome, he has shown no compunction about getting into their sh*t, either, and all in the name of what?  Suspicions?  Accusations?  And exactly what does a bag of Turtle eggs look like?  I would think that they would be place gingerly into a box, with padding, not all thrown into a gunny-sack, where risk of breakage and spoilage would be high.

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Ethan, I cannot stop thinking about Ethan from “Lost” and what a creepy dude he was…He considered himself one of the “good guys…”  I wonder whether Ethan “Marlin” Fauscett considers himself a “good guy?”

Will Mark Return the blow?  Will he fold like a cheap tent?  Let’s stay tuned!!

j’accuse!!

“I mean, c’mon Trail, we are obviously cut from the same bolt of cloth here, I mean, we could wear each other’s clothes and no one would know the difference…  I mean, how could you accuse me of such random and depraved acts?!?” Marlin seems to be saying…  Well, then, Marlin, why don’t you just show us what you got in that duffle of yours, painted boat-motor green… Mark would seem to demand, suggest, infer whilst standing tall and Trail-like, hair combed just so, face cleanly shaven even though he hasn’t had access to a public convenience for days now…  And what about Marlin’s hair??  Sort of reminds me of the guy in American Hustle…  lives with his mom, has to set his hair in curlers every night…  Or is Marlin naturally that way?  Only his hairdresser knows the truth!!

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And by the way…  Mr. Fish on the wall has been whispering all Mark needs to know, right into his ear…

Jessica, don’t give up so easily…

Unless of course this is all an act, and you can’t wait for Mark to confront Marlin… But that’s a fairly convincing look on your face, that is if you are going for dejected and resigned…

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So sure of yourself, aren’t you Mark…  Cock-sure comes to mind…  But then have you ever been wrong?  Not in recent memory…  and Mark, she’s not a “girl…” she’s a grown woman, even if, in your eyes, she morphs back to being a teenager periodically…

Oh, so now you expect her to suddenly be on YOUR side??

With incontrovertible evidence like PICTURES, the case is closed; might as well throw the rascal in a cell and lose the key!!  And Jessica is right, Mark, your stories always start out being about one thing but end up being about something else, something BAD!  Or GOOD, if you like sensationalism… But I guess that’s what sells copy, like in the National Enquirer, recently claiming that former President Clinton was (again!) caught in flagrant delicto with two hookers!!

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That’s right, baby.  Back door.  Boat dock.    I will handle this thug…

Oh Mark, your assumptions will be your undoing…  you were not privy to their private conversations- the ones they had when you first arrived… the looks of evil cast by Jessica…  You don’t know who you are dealing with here…

WHAT!? POACHING?!?

Only in the Trailverse.  You might as well have accused Marlin of Human Trafficking or running a child porn ring or both… but POACHNG?!? That’s the highest crime there is in this world…  Gotta hand it to Mark, though, he doesn’t lose his cool…  he gets right to the point.  Jessica’s indignation in panel three is either genuine or a well-practiced reaction to the day when she DOES get confronted about the whole shady enterprise… Genuine only if Marlin practices the Michael Corleone “don’t EVER ask me about my business” approach to family life, otherwise, not so much…

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So Ladies and Gentlemen, don’t let that stuffed fish on the wall fool you.  Marlin picked that up at ARC Value Village for a couple of bucks…  and now it is supposed to provide cover for his illegal operation…   Although, I would have enjoyed seeing Marlin stuffing heroin into fish body cavities; that at least would have made this whole thing a little more relevant, a touch more topical…

CAUGHT!!

Smooth, Mark, Real smooth… Like a teenager searching his father’s dresser drawer for a pack of cigarettes (or something…) You didn’t count on the fact that JESSICA LIVES THERE TOO, and the fact that there is a large window into which one can peer into the workshop, and that IT’S BROAD DAYLIGHT…

But what has Mark found?  A LAPTOP!  This has become one of the critical items in any recent MARK TRAIL story arc- along with cameras and fishing gear… Would he even know what to do with one?  Does Mark add hacker to his list of skills??

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With a quick Turn of the Trail-Head, Mark sees that he has been FOUND!  Um, errr… what are you going to say now, Mark, does lying become you?  Is it like the Grinch when he tells Cindy-Loo-Who a whopper about a light on the tree that won’t light on one side??

Yakkity -Yak…

So very glad Mark continues to keep us apprised of his every thought and notion!!  And good for you Mark! as oblivious as you can sometimes be, you realize that following Marlin might be “too obvious…”  Even if you changed the expression on your face from time to time he would still think it  was you!! As Marlin throws the stern drive into overdrive and waits for his boat to plane out, Mark is now back in trespassing mode…  Probable cause?  Illegal search and seizure?  The constitution and Bill of Rights mean nothing in the trailverse!!

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A lesson for us all, though… A poacher’s work is never done… lest we think this is an easy life, it’s up early and out the door every  day looking for more poachable stuff…  remember Big Mike and his band had to add trespassing to their rap sheet in order to keep their clients happy…  at some point you poach yourself out of business!

…and stop calling me Shirley!

Poor Mark.  His Trail-brain is in overdrive, trying to reconcile the inputs being presented… Pretty girl who helps damaged wildlife recover = GOOD.  Shifty, mysterious man coming and going at all hours mailing packages to Atlanta and points further off with impeccably kept files with pictures revealing poaching activities = BAD.  Yet they are together = ???

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But Mark, things are not always as they seem.  Sometimes people maintain double lives, hiding in plain sight… Until they get a little cocky, thinking that their cover is perfect, that no one will ever suspect.  Of course Jessica is in on the Turtle Egg and other wildlife poaching…  She’s the one that keeps the halo burning bright over the island.  She’s the one that keeps people away, that is unless it’s a person with a perverse need to write stories and barge in unannounced…  Remember, this story could have been over before it started if Jessica and Marlin had simply said “no thank you” to Mark’s desire to write an article on them… But what’s the fun in that?

Where are you going, Mark?

As Mark Trail ponders the deep and thorny questions posed by his latest encounter with evil, it appears that he has his open-bowed, outboard powered boat pointed out to open seas…  Speaking aloud, as usual, to no one but himself and the wind and waves and a random bottlenose, his thoughts turn to the lovely Jessica Canupp, who clearly stirred something in the cold dark recesses of his chamberless heart.  What are those? Feelings?  Well, don’t worry Mark, they too shall pass.

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But seriously, running out of gas on the open seas without a paddle is worse than being up the proverbial creek…  turn around Mark!  Oh I know, it’s like worrying over the Millenium Falcon as it navigates the asteroid field…  Every major character is on board, so it’s very unlikely that anything bad will happen…