The days must be tedious as hell…

Time is passing quickly from strip to strip.  With every next day we see them preparing to stop, it’s another day after another night’s long march…  Then they get to stare at each other for, oh, I don’t know, at least 8 hours until the sun sets, assuming that they are true to the season and the coming Winter solstice…

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Of course they run into the always available “abandoned cabin…”  How does Jeff know that it is?  Once inside we see rat and squirrel leaping from beam to beam, a what? (calendar?) hanging askew on the wall and a bad attempt at a window covering (at first blurry-eyed glance I thought it was a pair of white boxer shorts hanging from an inside laundry-line…)

We see only one pack basket, borne by Jeff, does that mean that once the canoe is resting Mark has to go back, at gunpoint, to retrieve the other?  C’mon Mark, this is getting old!!

gong!

That would be the sound of Mark getting his bell rung…  poor guy, still reverberating in panel two…  But wait, there is a lit fire in the background… what if??

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OK, Jeffy- poo, Mark is not an idiot.  Maybe he’s a might dense, oblivious even, but when it comes to overcoming evil, he is unmatched.  Unless of course you compare him to characters with real super-powers… oh, ok, Jeff.  I guess a few thousand dollars’ worth of arrowheads is worth having a murder rap come down on you?  I guess that would spoil your story about Mark being the thief?  Just Saying…

Right doesn’t always make might!

I guess leading a life of crime means never being able to sleep soundly… always one eye open and a finger on the trigger… So despite Mark’s catlike approach, Jeff uses the same medicine on Mark that Mark used on Frankie to get out of Big Mike’s Cooler… remember??  But what exactly was Mark fixing to do in the second panel?  Give Jeff a “Goose?”  Tag you’re it?  I guess he was going for the gun, but I think jabbing a flaming log into his eyes or dousing him with the hot coffee in the pot by the fire might have been more effective…

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So now that Mark is Jeff’s bitch, where does this go?  Can mark recover from the dreaded crab-kick?  Tell us this isn’t over before it even started…

Wait a minute… I just realized something…

I know it’s wrong to over think these things or even try to anticipate what is going to happen, but it occurs to me that Jared did not leave to go get the sheriff, he left to catch up with Jeff and Mark…  Mark, you are about to be outnumbered.  If you are going to make a move, it had better be now.  Seeing the clenched fist and the slumbering baddie in panel three, one can only assume that we are close to an altercation.  Why Jeff did not bring a pair of handcuffs (more bondage!) to restrain mark while he rests is a mystery to me…

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But there sits Dr. Davis, ankle up, requisite makeshift cane at the ready.  He still has faith in the Trail, and has upped the ante!  Predicting that Mark will return with the stolen artifacts…

Dunlap falls for it! Cherry is pissed!

Oh my goodness. Look at glowering face she is making in panel three…  yikes.  In all the times that Mark has disappointed her, she has never once looked that angry…

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What is it about Senior Citizens and trust?  Why is Dunlap such an easy “Mark?” (Ha!  Get it? Mark? Mark Trail… That’s a joke, son…) Is there a connection with evolution?  Physiology?  Oxytocin? But there stands Mr. Dunlap, simply unable to tell good from bad intent.  Determined to tell the world about everything he does- “I have a collection!  Want to see my museum?  I make my own syrup!”  Not realizing that he is exposing himself to those who would take advantage of him…

Wiping the sting off his face…

Jared isn’t sure what his next move is… he is after all, playing the victim here, even though he is, in reality, the perp… But old Mr. Dunlap is actually buying it!  Or at least considering it… and all he can think about is his life’s work gone… Gone!  Andy seems to have recovered his equanimity.  Smiling and panting, that’s one of his better skills…

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So as old Mr. Dunlap slumps over his now empty arrowhead display case, it’s up to Cherry… to bring Jeff ‘n’ Jared to Justice and clear her man’s good name… And all they wanted to do was go canoeing, do a little fishing and camping, and they walk into this mess… what mischief the fates bring upon Mark Trail, and with him, his family…

Cherry Davis Trail KNOWS HER MAN

And WILL NOT stand idly by while his good name is besmirched!  A stunner!  Cherry Throws the first punch!  Well, an open hand to the face, but still… Take THAT you no-good-nick!  I absolutely love the exclamation marks that are shooting out of her head in panel one!  Oh, the writers are taking this one to the limits!!

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erry would do this in the face of all that Mark DOESN’T <ahem> do for her, it’s a testament to her character and how much she loves and respects her man.  Inspiring, really… leaves me kind of speechless!

But then again, where IS Rusty??

That is the saddest face I have ever seen…

Yup.  Gone.  Except for that ratty rug and a few pieces of pottery… and in case anyone besides me was wondering whether there is any truth to any of this, pottery was a big part of Native American, pre-Columbian culture…  But enough with the history lesson.  We have a robbery, a sad old man, and a framed Nature Writer to worry about.  And in case you think I am referencing Dunlap’s sad face, look at Andy!  Oh, the indignity!! Sitting there with his muzzle bound!

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“Yea, see, it was that MARK TRAIL who done it… Held us at gunpoint, see, and made Jeff tie me up… yea, that’s it…”  Cherry is expressing shock in the time honored way that any female comic strip character does- right hand to her bosom, as if needing to catch her breath after being shocked by terrible and unexpected news…  But I repeat- why would Mark have to tie up HIS OWN DOG???  Ths is so stupid it boggles the mind.  Let’s hope the Davises and Mr. Dulap see through this in a North-woods minute…  Meanwhile, Mark is being held hostage by the real villain, sleeping with his finger on the hair trigger!

The slowest get-away on record…

That’s right, Slim, I mean Jeff, Mark ain’t “much for words,” that is unless he is all alone and has to verbalize his every thought so that we know what’s going on in the Trail-brain… And Cherry, the dutiful daughter, bringing her hobbled dad breakfast in bed.  How nice.

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But back to the get-away.  Does Jeff think he can actually sleep and keep Mark in check?  This is going to become a test of who sleeps/ blinks first, right?  Or Mark “dozes off” and waits to hear Jeff snore, then turns the tables?  Meanwhile the weight of law enforcement come raining down?  Is Mr. Dunlap going to fall for the “Mark Trail is a really bad man who tied me (and his own dog) up and took all your Indian stuff?”

My heart goes out to the people that have to come up with one contrived story after another, but this one is making the “Johnny (rotten) Walker and the Senator” story look truly inspired…

oh, so now there are TWO pack-baskets…

Only one of them doused in real “great on flapjacks” maple syrup?  Good think Mark sleeps with his clothes on, otherwise he wouldn’t have been in such a ready position out “help out” with the robbery…  So now what’s the story?  Mark rustles both men out of their tent, ties one of them up and forces the other to help him steal stuff, all at the point of a –what?- fishing pole?  A snarling St. Bernard?  This is getting more convoluted by the minute…

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As they prepare to make their getaway (in a canoe!) I can only fear most for the artifacts that may all be lost to the muddy lakebed, by the time this all sorts itself out…  let’s hope that the pack baskets (really… this is a new concept for me) have a secure lid to prevent the arrowheads from dispersing…  But it would seem that I am (again) late to this party… the world is awash in packbaskets… who knew??  But unfortunately, they all seem to have open tops (no lids…)

Notice, too, that we have lost all formality (finally!) It’s just “Trail” now, we have dropped all this ‘Mr.’ B.S.  Mark, you have but one guy to subdue here since part of their master plan involves tying up the other and therefore taking him out of the equation.  Your Trail Brain must have picked up on that… If it takes more than the next day or two to get out of this one, I will be sorely disappointed…