Pop hated everyone, even his own gang, and constantly sought vengeance for minor misdeeds just so he could use his torture devices. Boy John, who wasn’t bright, always provided an excuse for electrical abuse. His ears would smoke when he was attached to a battery, making Pop laugh.

One night the gang watched as Pop fed his snake a mouse. The others roared, but John scowled, thinking Pop’s action quite foul.

Pop immediately had John strapped to his medieval rack. “The next one,” he added, glaring at his wife, “gets the ‘to dye for’ bath.”

Esmerelda knew her life was endangered while Pop was breathing, and the only thing she loved about him was his cash. He was so jealous that whenever a man came near, it was Esmerelda he’d accuse.

Even so, when he gave her dough, she’d scan the newspaper ads and buy diamonds. But once she asked a fella for two quarters for the Wednesday edition.

“Can’t leave you alone for five minutes,” Pop said after he appeared from behind, then beat her black-and-blue.

The next day Esmerelda read an item about boiled peanuts, and saw her chance, since Pop’s weaknesses were eating and drinking. She had to do something before the next victim was her.

“Peanuts and beer?” she said, not verbalizing that she wanted him to soon rot in Hell.

“Tank you, Esmereldi,” he said, in his strange way of talking, not perceiving the dark glint in her blackened eye.

“I’ll take care of you, Pop, until the very, very end.”

“Damn right,” he said in his mean tone; he was a mean, mean man, right down to his bones. He guzzled peanuts and beer, calling her a rotten whore, as the boiled peanuts swelled and popped Pop’s stomach, and he was alive no more.

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