Buddy hears a gunshot from inside room 3 at the motel.

Thoughts of Mugs with his stogie cranked Buddy's cigarette craving up a notch.  He'd promised his dead wife that he'd quit many times before she died -- ironically of cancer -- but this time he was determined to see it through, to show her that he was still a man who could follow through on things.  Buddy knew she was still watching over him from her spot "Up There."

He cast a disapproving eye out to the street, where the rain was coming down in sheets, and, with shaking hands, pulled his wallet from the inner pocket of his trench coat.  There was a piece of nicotine gum wedged somewhere within that otherwise empty billfold, but when Buddy pried open the old leather flaps, he dropped the whole thing in a puddle at his feet.

"Ah jeez.  Myrna..." Buddy reached down to retrieve a faded picture of his beloved wife from the water before the colors got ruined.  His knees popped, and he shook the photo dry with one hand while he grabbed the wallet with the other.  Just as he did so a sharp sound cut through the drumming of the rain.  It could just as easily have been a slamming door or a clap of thunder, but Buddy had been around the block often enough to know.  In fact, he didn't give it a second thought after gritting his teeth and swearing, "Gun!"  He then drew his own piece and pocketed the wallet.  He sprinted across the street, doing his best to avoid the deepest of the puddles, but by the time he reached the alley alongside the Flamingo he was pretty sure he'd nailed every one.

So what?  He had bigger fish to fry.

Buddy ducked beneath the lone window of Room #3, lest any more bullets get fired.  The last thing he needed was to die via carelessness.  After duckwalking under the window he made it to the front door and put his ear to it from around the corner.  He didn't stand directly against the door because it was no doubt made out of tin foil and toilet paper and would most certainly not stop a spitball, much less a slug.

He waited a moment to hear something: movement, yelling, sounds of a struggle, then kicked in the door with his pistol out in front of him as he entered the dimly lit room around the pieces of the shattered door.

He wasn't sure what to expect, but it sure as hell wasn't the sight that greeted him on the way in.

Mugs was there, on the ratty-looking bed, atop the orange sheets, fully clothed and looking stoned.  His beady little eyes were bloodshot and looked as if he'd been blinking out sand for the last hour.  He wasn't bleeding and he wasn't holding a gun.

But there WERE three bodies on the floor near the bed.

What the hell?!

"Mugs!  How do you get three bodies with just one gunshot?  Mugs!"

Mugs' pasty and wan face turned to look up at Buddy and asked, "Is this a riddle?"

Nervous sweat broke out on Buddy's upper lip, "Mugs!  What the hell happened in here?!"

The End

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