The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl

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Authors: Tim Pratt
pretty,” Marzi said, shaking her head.
    Jonathan nodded. “She does. She told me she gets by on bluff. She dazzles them, so they don’t look too closely. I thinks she actually believes it.” He sipped his drink. “This is fun. I didn’t expect to be out on the town. I figured on spending the night—hell, the whole summer—holed up in my room, working, but Lindsay wouldn’t hear of it.”
    “Lindsay’s good people,” Marzi said. “Being friends with her is like being friends with the whole town—she knows everybody.”
    He shook his head. “I couldn’t be that social. I get tired just watching her.”
    Marzi nodded. “She’s got a gift. So. How’re you liking the Pigeonhole?”
    He looked blank for a moment, then grimaced. “Is that what you call it? My apartment?”
    “Yeah. Well, Hendrix calls it ‘the Pigeoncote,’ but he’s pretentious.”
    “When I talked to him about renting it, he called it ‘cozy.’ ”
    “That’s one way of putting it.”
    “The shower’s like a coffin stood on end, and if you sit up in bed you hit your head on the slope of the ceiling. But I have to admit, I’ve lived in worse places. Never
places, but worse ones. And it’s cheap.”
    “Cheapest rent in downtown Santa Cruz,” Marzi said. “I think it’s the lack of a kitchen that keeps the price down.”
    “And the fact that the café is open until one in the morning.”
    “Also a factor.”
    “It doesn’t bother me. I’m a night owl. The café’s pretty quiet during the day, right?”
    “When Hendrix refrains from blasting Megadeth, yeah. His taste in music is loud and antediluvian. Still, I couldn’t live in the Pigeonhole. It would make for a shorter walk to work, but really. Too claustrophobic.”
    “I wouldn’t want to make it a permanent residence. But for now, it suits me. And it’s close to my work.”
    “You’re studying Garamond Ray, right?”
    Jonathan nodded. “The murals are some of his last works. They’re fascinating.”
    “Good thing I convinced Hendrix not to paint over them, then.”
    Jonathan’s eyes widened, the first sign of strong emotion Marzi had seen in him—he hadn’t reacted that much even to Jane’s attack. “He wanted to paint
    Marzi leaned close, to speak near his ear. “Yeah, last year. Some little old ladies complained about Harlequin, said he was making them nervous, grinning there on the wall. And then some guy who called himself a color therapist told Hendrix that the Ocean Room was an unhealthy hue, and that Hendrix should paint everything pale green. Hendrix was really going to do it, too, but I got all the regulars to threaten to boycott the place if he did. Well, almost all the regulars—Denis told Hendrix he’d like to see the walls painted white and decorated with this ‘Abstract Prismatic’ series of paintings Denis did. A bunch of soulless paintings of crystal matrices. Hendrix actually gave that serious thought, too. I swear, the guy has a brain like Silly Putty, he’s so impressionable. But Hendrix pays attention to business first, so when the regulars complained, he left the murals alone.” Marzi thought the
kicker had probably been when she threatened to quit if he painted over the murals; Hendrix seemed to have an almost supernatural dread that Marzi would stop working there. Probably knew he’d never find another dependable assistant manager who’d work for such shit wages.
    Jonathan shook his head. “I can’t imagine. Those paintings are irreplaceable.”
    “I didn’t realize Garamond Ray was such a big deal,” Marzi said. No one would ever be so zealous about protecting
    Jonathan shrugged. “He’s not well known, but he’s a fascinating figure. He did murals in New York in the seventies, and also did a lot of poster work, album covers for punk rock bands, stuff like that. Had a few shows, picked up a small cult following. He was quite a character, apparently, used to hang out in bars and

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