There it is!

Not only are you suffering under the withering admonishments of a decorated and published naturalist, but now you have gone and pissed off your girlfriend!!  And it’s for the best, you know?  She would be bringing up that “snake thing” for years…

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As Lori turns on her heel and stomps off (uh, to where exactly?) we see Chris “Dirty” Dyer’s plans go up in smoke.  I am still very curious as to how exactly he was going to monetize his illegal cargo; you know, meet up with buyer, get money, find “Carlson” again and give him his 60% (a 40% cut for delivering Rhino horn?  Not bad, actually) all without having any of his party suspect that he is up to something funny.  Throughout this experience, Chris has shown a complete lack of ability to plan any number of moves ahead- he seems to be more like a single cell animal, just bumping into shit and reacting…

Jacob Hickman! That’s who Mark came to see!

That was really starting to bug me… too lazy to go back and look, I had resorted to calling him “That guy that Mark came to Africa to see…”  But Mark!  Let “Ol’ Dirty” answer your question!  Let him spin a web of lies and deceit!  That would be at least entertaining!  You ask him a question and then immediately assume that he is guilty (which he is of course…)

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But I ask you- is there a better scolding than one dished out by Mark Trail where Poaching is involved??  I don’t think so… There is a special place in Hell for the likes of you, Chris Dyer…

Lori looks, at best, nonplussed by this turn of events…  C’mon, girl, where’s your outrage, your indignation?  Or are you just in shock after Hippo, Buffalo, Python and now Rhino??

Wow! Three thought balloons in a row!

What Th—Well, Chris “Dirty” Dyer, the gig is up!  Or “what the hell were you thinking?” Oh I know, I will place a tarp over this unlocked box and no one will be any the wiser…  certainly no one will notice this anvil case that wasn’t here before…  And Trail, this is where your life becomes expendable…  Remember how not a soul even knows that you went on safari with these two random people- one a dentist and the other just plain bad, rotten to the core??

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The look on Mark’s face says it all, though.  This is the height of bad, the lowest of the low.  Worse than Turtle Eggs!!  Worse than Shining Deer!!  This is World-Wide, Cross Borders, Interpol kind of stuff!  And you are in the middle of it Mark!  Who’s going to believe that you aren’t involved?  Think, man, think!!

Easy there, Butch…

Dirty doesn’t have facial hair (the tip-off to being a bad guy) but as long as he is sporting that Dolph Lundgren look, we can’t really trust him, can we??  And as he snarls in displeasure (AGAIN!!) at Mark playing the hero with the one he sees making his life whole, certainly no good can come of this…  Remember he was going to lure Mark out into the “Tall Grass” only to be trampled by a Cape Buffalo herd?  His work is clearly not done here…

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Oh Chris, you don’t know Mark like we know Mark do you?  Being a “Hero” is all in a day’s work for him…  he thinks little of it, the fact that he often inserts himself between life and death with little regard for his own safety.  He knows better than any of us that this strip is named after him, and what would James Allen do if Mark were to suddenly come to an untimely end?  Start writing a strip called “Rusty Trail?”  I think not…

That’s MR. DYER, if you please…

Every now and then the artwork and the backgrounds turn into a bit of a “What doesn’t fit in this picture” Game…

Panel 1:  Taurus running in the fields of green holding onto his red whistle (there’s that again…) the plane, boss, the plane!

Panel 2:   Chris Dyer preaching/ declaring/ gesturing awkwardly that “this Safari is officially over.”  With purple mountains’ majesty as a backdrop, almost as is he has returned from seeing a burning bush and is in possession of the stone tablets…

Panel 3:  No background, just a tearful Lori telling a distracted and unfeeling Chris that she was recently attacked by a snake!  You know what?  I don’t think he really cares…

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So, as we move this story along, will we ever turn up the bones of the guy that Mark flew down there to see in the first place?  Will Mark be implicated in a smuggling ring now that he is unwittingly helping to ferry contraband?  Will Lori ever get to play something other than the fair damsel, often in distress?  What this strip needs is more strong women!  Like Cherry! BLAM!  Remember??

But is there enough skin to make a pair of shoes and a matching bag??

I have been studying the first panel for a while now (I know, it’s time to get a life…) and I can’t get my bearings…  Is Mark standing on a king size cot that Lori warrants as she is the Queen of the Safari?  Is e standing on the floor with the bed all askew and blankets and linens everywhere?  And what about that basket on the left?  Is that a clothes hamper?  Is that where the snake was all coiled up, lying in wait??

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No Mark, she’s NOT “All Right…”  I think we can assume that much.  She’s as “All Right” as anyone who has had a near-death experience…  And notice how she’s not calling out for Chris…  This just keeps getting deeper and deeper.  She might as well have let the snake take her as compared to the death by a thousand cuts falling in love with Mark Trail represents…