“Fuck Christmas,” Clover shouted, “and fuck you, Tony. Fuck Santa Claus, fuck his elves and fuck all ten goddamn reindeers.”

“Eight,” Roxanne said, filing her nails and looking at her over the top of her glasses.

“Shut up, Roxy, I’m talking about reindeers, not how many cocks you sucked over the weekend.”

“Clover, calm down,” Tony said, “It was worth taking a shot.”

“Bullshit, I told you nobody goes to a strip club on Christmas Eve.”

“She did tell you,” Roxanne said, “Even louder that she’s telling you now.”

“Look,” he said, shrugging, “I’m sorry, but it wasn’t nobody…”

“We’ve had five customers,” Clover said.

“And the last one was two hours ago,” Roxanne chimed in, “It’s almost ten thirty.”

Clover jerked her thumb at Roxanne. “She might look like a doofus wearing that stupid Santa hat, but she’s right.”

Tony held up his hands, “Okay, it turned out to not be a great idea. You guys are always saying that more customers come in because they are lonely than because they are horny. I figured it would be a lonely night for a lot of guys…”

“It might be a great night to be a hooker,” Clover said, “but not a dancer.”

He looked at his watch, then over his shoulder at LeAnn, the bartender. “Tell you what,” he told her, “If nobody else comes in before eleven, go ahead and close up.”

He started to walk away, but Roxanne called him back. “We paid our club fees, Tony, that isn’t right.”

He looked up toward the ceiling, as if he were looking for a script to read from. “You want to close and go home early, but you want your club fees refunded because I said we would close and you could go home early?”

“No,” Clover said, “We want our club fees refunded because we paid you fifty dollars to dance on a night when you dragged us in here to dance, even though we told you nobody was coming the fuck in.”

“Fine,” he said, throwing his hands in the air, “LeAnn, give them back their club fees.”

Roxanne stood up. “I’ll go tell Amberlee.”

“Where is she anyway?” LeAnn asked.

“Back in the dressing room.”

Clover sat down on a barstool. “She probably fell asleep.”

Tony came back out of his office, wearing his coat and hat.

“Hey, Tony,” Clover told him, “I just saw tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal. The headline says Shitty Ass Strip Joint Goes Broke After Hundred And Fifty Dollar Loss.”

“Sometimes I wonder why I don’t fire you, Charlene.”

“Because you just manage the Gold Dollar, your dad owns it, and he loves my big fat ass.”

“Merry Christmas, Tony,” LeAnn called after him as he walked out, holding up his middle finger in Clover’s direction.

“Yeah, Merry Christmas, Tony,” Clover hollered as he went out the door, “Enjoy it, it’s probably the last one before your kids decide they don’t want to spend them with you.”

“That one maybe went too far,” LeAnn said.

Roxanne came back and sat on the next stool.

“What’s Amberlee doing?” LeAnn asked.

“She was watching Elf on her iPad, now she’s getting dressed as fast as she can, in case Tony changes his mind.”

“He already left,” LeAnn said.

“Oh, so he doesn’t have to wait until eleven o’clock…”

“I liked that movie, Elf,” Clover said. She nudged Roxanne with her elbow. “You kind of look like the girl that he falls in love with, Zoey DeWhatshername.”

“You kind of look like Ed Asner.”

“That midget guy from Game Of Thrones was in it. Is it weird that I think he’s kind of sexy?”

“Peter Dinklage?” Roxanne said, “I’d fuck him.”

“You know what sucks? All the kids in school probably called him Dinky.”

“What did they call you?”

Clover was silent for a moment, then said, “Big Bird.” When Roxanne didn’t respond, she asked, “Ain’t you got some smartass remark?”

“Nope, I’m not as mean as you.”

“Yes, you are, you are just sneaky about it.”

“It only seems that way because I’m so much smarter than you.”

“What about you? What did they call you in high school?”


“Fuck you, that’s your name. What about a nickname?”

“Some of my friends called me Ronnie.”

“See that’s what I’m talking about. That’s sneaky mean the way you played that.”

The door opened, and they both groaned, but it was not a customer. Sporty, the Gold Dollar’s bouncer, came in.

“Speaking of guys you’ll fuck,” Clover muttered.

When he approached the bar, she said, “Hey Sporty, how come you go out with Roxy? I always heard black guys like girls with nice big asses.”

“I always heard strippers were friendly,” he shot back.

He sat down next to Roxanne.

“Where have you been?” she asked him.

“Yeah,” Clover said, “There could have been a brawl in here, between the rats and the cockroaches.”

“I was sitting out in my car, listening to some jams.”

“I thought maybe you were standing in front of the joint ringing a Salvation Army bell,” Clover said.

Sporty ignored her and put a hand on Roxanne’s shoulder. “Listen, babe,” he said, “We gotta talk about this.”

“We talked about it ten times already,” she said.

“Yeah, because it’s important.”

“We can talk later.”

Sporty went behind the bar, took a bottle of Bud from the cooler and twisted off the cap.

“Hey, Sporty, how many reindeer does Santa have?”

“How the fuck should I know?”

“You heard the song your whole fucking life, right?”

“It’s not about the Rudolph song,” Roxanne said, “The right number is the ones named in The Night Before Christmas, which is eight.”

“Plus Rudolph,” Clover insisted. “LeAnn, tell her.”

“I have no opinion,” LeAnn said, turning away.

“Even if Rudolph counts, which he doesn’t, that makes nine. You said ten.”

“That was in a moment of passion.”

“Let me ask you a question,” Sporty said, “How do you know he don’t have, like, a hundred reindeer and uses different ones every year?”

“That’s just nuts,” Clover said, shaking her head.

The door opened again, and a portly middle aged man came in, shaking the rain from his coat sleeves. He looked at the group at the bar, smiled, and said, “Not a fit night out for man nor beast.”

“Which one are you?” Clover muttered.

Roxanne looked at LeAnn.

“It’s ten to eleven,” LeAnn said with a shrug. She turned to the customer. “What can we do for you, dear, we will be closing soon.”

“Oh, heck,” he said, “I was hoping to have a few drinks and maybe a dance.”

Clover tilted her head close to Roxanne’s. “How bad do you want to get the fuck out of here?” she asked.

“Pretty goddamn bad.”

Clover leaned against the bar and squeezed her elbows close to her sides, pushing her large breasts higher.

“Hey honey,” she said sweetly, “Maybe you’d be interested in our holiday special.”

He smiled eagerly. “Maybe. What is it?”

Pointing back and forth between herself and Roxanne, she said, “Skip the drinks and get a two girl dance, only fifty dollars.”

His eyes grew large. “That sounds great,” he said.

“Alright, let’s go,” she replied, rising off the stool. She started back toward the private rooms, then turned and crooked her finger at him seductively.

“We’ll talk later,” Roxanne told Sporty. As the customer passed her, she hopped off her stool and took his hand.

Amberlee came out of the dressing room in her street clothes and coat. When she saw them coming in her direction, she muttered, “Better you than me, ladies.”

Clover opened the door to the first private room. “Right in her, honey,” she said.

When the customer stepped inside, she leaned close to Roxanne. “Who’s dancing, you or me?”

“It was your idea, you do the dirty work.”

“Fair enough,” Clover said, sighing.

Three in the room was a tight fit. “What’s your name, honey?” Roxanne asked.


“Alright, Frank, well you just sit and relax and we’ll show you a great time, okay?”

“Sounds good to me,” he said, shifting anxiously in his seat.

Roxanne waited a moment, until the music paused and a new song started up.

“Goddamn it,” Clover moaned as the sound system burst forth with a choir singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

“That’s Sporty fucking around,” Roxanne said.

“I don’t mind,” Frank shrugged.

“Fine, then,” She began to dance, as seductively as she could, to the Christmas carol.

Clover squeezed in next to the chair, and squatted down, leaning close to Frank. There was already a prominent tent in the front of his pants. She stroked his chest and said, “It’s okay if you want to take it out.”

“Really?” he said, looking at her in surprise, “I thought that wasn’t allowed.”

“It’s the Christmas special,” she said.

He hastily dug his cock out of his pants. Roxanne turned and bent over. The white ball on her hat bounced as she twerked her ass only inches from his face.

Clover wrapped her hand around his shaft and stroked it.

“Look at that tight little ass,” she murmured in his ear, “Can you imagine shoving your big cock into it?”

“Mmm, yeah,” he moaned. She stroked harder and he grew more agitated. Roxanne balanced over his lap with one knee on each arm of the chair.

“Show him your pussy,” Clover said.

Roxanne hooked her thumbs in the sides of her thong and pulled it away from her body. Frank craned his neck to take a look, while Clover cooed, “Oh, wouldn’t it feel so good to fuck that wet pussy?”

Frank let out a long jagged breath, and a stream of pearly liquid flowed from his cock and down over Clover’s hand.

Roxanne stepped down off the chair, pulled a handful of tissues from the dispenser and handed some to each of them. “Merry Christmas, Frank,” she said.

“Oh yeah, Merry Christmas,” he wheezed. He wiped himself off, dropped the tissues in a small wastebasket Clover held up for him, and put his cock back in his pants.

Clover rose and they helped Frank to his feet. He took out his wallet and handed several bills to Roxanne, then stepped out of the room.

“If this guy becomes a regular, his nickname is going to be Frankie Faithful,” Roxanne said.

“What did he give us?” Clover asked.

Roxanne held the cash close to her face to counted it in the dim light.

“Seventy bucks.”

“I gave him a hand job and he only gave me a twenty dollar tip?”

“He gave you a ten dollar tip. Ten of it is mine.”

“Bitch, I didn’t give out a handy for a lousy ten bucks.”

“It’s more than I’d give you. You have hands like a bricklayer. And I showed him naked pussy. That deserves a tip.”

“Alright, fair enough. Now we can get the fuck out of here. You hungry?”

“Hell yes.”

They crossed the corridor to the dressing room and quickly changed into their street clothes. LeAnn was wiping down the bar when they came out.

“Sporty is out back, helping me restock for Thursday,” she said.

“Well, tell him I’ll talk to him later,” Roxanne said. She went around the bar and tipped out, giving LeAnn a twenty each for herself and one for Sporty. She kissed her on the cheek and said, “Merry Christmas, sweetie.”

Clover tipped out and gave LeAnn a big hug, then she and Roxanne walked out to their cars in a light cold rain.

“You ain’t waiting for Sporty?” Clover asked.

“Nope, don’t want to talk to him right now. Meet you at the diner.”

They each got in their cars. A light coating of slush covered Roxanne’s windshield, but the wipers easily pushed it to the side. She pulled out of the parking lot on to the slippery street and drove the mile and a half to their usual after work spot, the Finest Kind Diner, while Clover followed close behind.

When she turned into the diner’s parking lot she noticed immediately that the lights were turned off, except for a string of colored Christmas bulbs blinking around the front door.

Clover pulled up next to her and they rolled down their window.

“What the fuck, they’re closed?” Clover asked.

“There’s a sign on the door,” Roxanne said, creeping closer to it. “I can’t read it, my glasses fogged up as soon as I opened the window.”

“Yeah, makes you look like that guy on TV,” Clover said.

“What guy?” Roxanne asked, taking off her glasses and wiping them on her shirt.

“I don’t know his fucking name.”

“What show is he on?”

“I don’t remember.”

Roxanne rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah, that guy.”

“Why don’t you get that Vlasic surgery?”

“Vlasic is a pickle. You mean lasik?”

“I guess so. I mean, you ought to do something, if you can’t tell a dark empty restaurant is fucking closed on Christmas Eve without reading the fine print.”

“I’m squeamish about anything around my eyes. I don’t even like taking eye drops.”

“It must be a bitch, with so many guys coming on your face all the time.”

“At least I can make guys come. So what are we going to do? I’m fucking hungry.”

Clover thought for a minute. “We could go to Denny’s.”

“Are they open?”

“How the fuck would I know? Call ’em up.”

“Oh, so I have to look up the number?”

“I figured it has a man’s name, so you would know it.”

Roxanne sat back in her seat. “I don’t want to drive all the way across town, just to go to Denny’s. What else would be open?”

“Just White Castle.”

Roxanne thought for a minute. “Yeah, what the fuck, let’s go to White Castle.”

“We ought to just go in one car,” Clover suggested.

“Fine. Yours or mine?”

“Yours,” Clover said, “Mine is more full of trash than a westside trailer park.” She pulled her car into a parking space, shut it off and got out.

“I hate this drizzly shit,” she said as she got into Roxanne’s passenger seat.

“Hey, don’t you live in a westside trailer park?” Roxanne asked.

“Yeah, that’s why I know what I am talking about.”

“Speaking of knowing what you’re talking about,” Roxanne said, “Santa Claus has eight reindeer.”

“Are you counting Rudolph?”

“Nope. Rudolph doesn’t count.”

“Who decided that?”

“Clement Moore.”

“Who the fuck is he? Sounds like a baseball player.”

“He wrote The Night Before Christmas.”

“Twas the night before Christmas,” Clover recited in a sing song voice, “And all through the place, Roxanne was sitting on every guy’s face.”

“And up from the lawn there arose such a clatter,” Roxanne returned, “As Clover devoured the whole turkey platter.”

Clover nodded her head. “That was pretty good,” she admitted.

Roxanne was quiet for a moment, then asked, “You wonder though, who the fuck would name a reindeer Blitzen? What is he, a Nazi reindeer?”

“I bet Rudolph was originally Adolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and they changed it during the war or something. Hey, what’s going on with you and Sporty?”

“He wants me to go to his mom’s house for Christmas dinner.”

“And you don’t want to go?”

“Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my girlfriend from the strip club?”

“Oh yeah, I get it. But still, you guys been going out for a while now. You are going to meet them sooner or later.”

“It doesn’t have to be on Christmas with all the relatives there.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

There were three cars parked outside the White Castle when they arrived. The restaurant’s windows were so wet with condensation that they could not see through them. But when they dashed inside, they were nearly blinded by the garish light.

“This is like sensory overload,” Roxanne said, as Jingle Bell Rock squalled from a tinny sound system.

They walked over to the counter. There was no one behind it. Roxanne leaned forward, craning her neck to look back into the kitchen. She saw a young man in a white uniform and a hairnet dumping french fries out of a fryer basket.

“Excuse us,” she called.

He looked over his shoulder. “Be with you in a minute, ma’am,” he said.

Clover cackled and nudged Roxanne with her elbow. “Ma’am. He thinks you’re an old fucking lady.”

“Yeah, and he thinks I’m taking my mom out for Christmas Eve.”

The man came to the counter. His name badge identified him as Julio, assistant manager. “What can I get you ladies?” he asked.

“I’d like four hamburgers, an order of medium fries and a large coffee, regular,” Roxanne said.

“Give me six whiteys and a large Mountain Dew,” Clover added.

“Would you like fries with that?”

“Fuck no, I’m gonna eat most of hers.”

Julio rang up their orders and Roxanne paid for both. Clover looked around the room.

There were three occupied booths. In one a pair of middle aged men, wearing the uniforms of parking attendants, sat sipping coffee. At another, an older woman in a ragged green coat had only a cup of water and a single empty burger box on the table in front of her. A couple of booths down, three young, black clad goths were sitting together. They looked to be in their early twenties; two boys, one very large, the other thin and jittery, and a purple haired girl sitting across from them, loudly chewing gum. They all looked like they were coming down off a much better time than they were having now.

“It’s kind of a sad looking bunch of people in here,” Clover said.

“Yeah,” Roxanne said, “It’s Christmas Eve and they’ve got no place to go.”

“That sounds familiar. I mean, what the fuck is the difference between them and us?”

“We’ve got money in our pockets.”

“Yeah, money we took from other lonely people,” Clover said. She looked lost in thought for a moment, then asked Roxanne, “How much money you think you’ve got in your pocket?”

“I don’t know, a hundred, maybe a hundred and twenty dollars.”

Clover looked around the room, her lips tight and her brow knotted.

“I’ll bet I know what you’re thinking,” Roxanne said.

“It’s fucking Christmas,” Clover said, shrugging.

Roxanne called Julio back to the counter.

“How much are those sacks of thirty sliders?” she asked him.

“Thirty two dollars and fifty two cents.”

She looked over her shoulder at the woman with her single burger. “Give me two sacks,” she said, fishing her cash out of her pocket.

“You still want the other order?”

“Yeah,” Clover said, “And I want you to give anybody whatever they want to drink. Keep a tab and I’ll pay for them later.”

Julio hesitated a moment, then said, “Okay, it will take a little bit of time. Your other order will be up in a minute.”

When their food was ready, they went to the empty table between the old lady and the goths.

As they walked past the parking attendants, Clover asked them, “How you guys doing? You had to work tonight?”

“Fuckin’ Nutcracker,” one of them grumbled.

“So are you going to see your son tomorrow?” Roxanne asked Clover when they had taken their seats.

Clover nodded. “Not till the afternoon. But I get to have him the next day, too.”

“Have you got plans?”

“I was thinking we’d go to Hong Kong Garden for dinner.”

“And the next day?”

“Are you kidding? The day after Christmas? We’re going fucking shopping.”

Roxanne laughed. “Yeah I’m sure that’ll thrill a ten year old boy, going shopping with his mom.”

They had each finished two burgers when Julio called to them that their order was ready.

Clover walked over to the counter, picked up a bag of hamburgers in each hand and turned to face the dining area.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she hollered, “My friend Poindexter and I would like to treat everyone to Whiteys for Christmas.” She went from table to table, holding out the bags, so that each person could take some burgers.

“And if anyone wants something to drink,” she said, “It’s on us. Just step up and tell Julio what you want.”

After going to each table, she had half a bag left. She put it on the table in front of Roxanne and sat down.

Roxanne twisted in her seat and watched as several of the patrons went to the counter and ordered drinks. She noticed that the old woman in the next booth had neither gotten up nor taken any burgers. She took one from the bag, leaned over the back of the booth and asked, “Would you like another burger, ma’am?”

“Are you sure it’s okay?”

“Of course it is,” Roxanne said, “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, dear,” the woman replied, taking the burger.

Roxanne’s phone buzzed.

“I bet I know who that is,” Clover muttered.