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CHECK HER OUT!

Now, if this was a story about the illicit trade of coral, for example, it might have more weight. Not to take away from the menace of zebra mussels at all, in spite of Mark’s discovering what must be the mussels-under-investigation, and conveniently stuck to the bottom of a cargo ship’s hull that has a draft of no more than two feet. This must be a really small, empty ship to be sitting so high on the water. It does justify the snorkel, I suppose.

And Mark doesn’t really have to swim very deep, especially in a river that seems to have a depth of about…what, 10-15 feet?! So, we have a tiny cargo ship running in shallow waters—apparently really, really slow!—without any lookouts to notice Diana tailgating the cargo ship (and without being affected by the ship’s wake). Mark, being a modern day Johnny Weissmuller, has no trouble keeping up with this ship using only one hand to swim while he takes photos. Atta boy, Mark! With that kind of strength and stamina, we have to believe that Diana is already thinking about how her night is going to pan out.

And she must really be preoccupied to not notice another boat just behind and closing. This reminds me of those cop shows where the good guys follow a suspect only one or two cars directly behind for 10-15 blocks, and never get made. Maybe there’s a case for that:  Many of us live our lives, oblivious to daily routine. If prompted, we probably could not describe any cars we drove alongside or passed on the road, unless it was something notable, such as a Ford Model-A or that cyclist we just missed, as it blew through a red light.

In spite of the rather “small potatoes” scope of this zebra mussel investigation, somehow the purpose of Mark and Diana’s boat excursion has been leaked to one or more of those dangerous companies that Rafael mentioned, in passing. Who are they and why are they dangerous? We don’t know yet. Will we ever? And does the crime of having zebra mussels on a ship’s hull require a boatload of thugs to follow, and deal with anybody who got too curious?

Or is this really not about zebra mussels? These unknown bad guys might be surprised, if not astounded, to realize that Mark and Diana are not looking for illegal drugs stored in the ship’s hold, nor abducted and imprisoned young girls destined for a slave market somewhere in Southeast Asia. Just zebra mussels.

Otherwise, we are left with a premise, something like this:

OWNER OF DANGEROUS COMPANY: “Okay, yous guys. Get inna da boat and follow behind our ship. Look out for anybody that getsa too close to it and startsa snooping!”
BAD GUY #1: “What do we do if we spot somebody, boss?”
OWNER OF DANGEROUS COMPANY: “Unless they actually sees-a the zeebra mussels we are smugglin’ in, just-a scare them off, Benny. Otherwise, give ’em cement goulashes. Got it?”
BAD GUY: #2 “Sure, boss, we get it! But what’sa the big deal with these mussels, anyways? Dey’re all over the country already, and nobody wants ’em!”
<SMACK!>
OWNER OF DANGEROUS COMPANY:Stupido! We don’ta get paid to aska the questions. This is just the story Rivera stuck us into, hokay? Now get outta here!”

Well, now that Comics Kingdom is back online, there is a good supply of jokes and snarks to read!

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