As the town grew, so did the gunshot holes in its doors. It had become home to migrant workers, prostitutes, and drug dealers.
Present-day... As if a mouse is caught in a hinge, the door to 332 squeaks.
Joe, slightly overweight, lumbers downstairs to the lobby. A foul, musty smell envelopes his senses. An underdressed woman clings tightly onto the arm of a customer. A drunken man stumbles into the corridor—an aging woman with too much make-up yells at a young man exchanging a small package for cash.
Outside, rain clouds drift across the sky—hookers on the sidewalk—slow-moving cars and a luxury SUV on the street. Cops are eating donuts in a cruiser parked at the curb.
Joe draws a cigarette from his tan overcoat. He lights up, lifts his collar, and walks quickly to his car.
"Where in the hell have you been? Do you know what time it is?" Ruby scowls in anger.
"I always work late on Fridays," Joe takes off his coat and hangs it in the hall closet.
"Oh, please don't give me that line of bull. I know you're not selling insurance policies in the middle of the night." Ruby tightens the neck of her terry cloth bathrobe. She moves closer. She pokes at his chest with her index finger. "Don't lie to me."
He grabs her arm. "I'm in no mood to argue." Joe hesitates, then he lets go. "Ruby, I've got a headache. Go to bed." He rubs his forehead.
"I'll go to bed when I want to." She twists her mouth, "I need a Xanax. My nerves."
"That's right, Ruby, any excuse to stupefy."
Joe walks toward the kitchen. He sits at the table.
Like a diamond needle sticks in the grove of a record, the scene in room 332 repeats itself in his brain: Blackjack. Himself, the dealer. Francesco, a card shark, gathers his winnings. Gabriel, a pigeon, holds up a concealed weapon. Francisco surrenders the money.
Wearing killer-red lipstick, Ruby marches into the room.
Joe looks up. "What--
Ruby is surprised that the gun makes so little noise when Joe falls dead to the floor.