Secret Santa by K. Elliott
Shante Morgan aka Foreplay lay on Club Cheetah’s center stage with her legs spread like a field-goal post, wearing nothing but a tiny pink G-string. She was a tall slender dancer with a twenty-four-inch waist, a perfect round ass, and small but flawless breasts. Her golden hair and piercing emerald eyes mesmerized the audience as her body glistened under the light from baby oil she rubbed on herself before coming out. A small Mexican guy was on the other side of the stage with a fistful of bills. Shante wanted them all. She danced her way to the edge of the stage, where the man stood, and siezed the bills. She hooked her thumbs into the sides of her G-string and slowly worked her thong down her hips.
The man smiled gratefully and took a sip of his beer before sitting down. A skinny guy with braids yelled, “Make it clap.”
“I’ll make it clap if you make it rain,” Shante said.
The man threw down a five-dollar bill.
She flashed a smile showing her brilliant white teeth.
“Nigga, you made it drizzle. I said make it rain.”
“Hell, that’s all I got, baby.”
Nobody had any money, Shante thought. The money at the club had been slow for the past two weeks, and Shante was sick and tired of working all night and being a circus act for broke-ass niggas who didn’t want to pay her. After she finished up onstage, she quickly exited to the locker room. It was time to go home.
Shante Morgan sat on the wooden bench inside the locker room, counting the money she’d made. “Seventy-three dollars,” she said. “This shit is pathetic.”
Shante thought about earlier that day when she’d taken her children to see Santa Claus at the mall. “So what do you want for Christmas?” Santa had asked her eight-year-old son, Chris.
Chris looked serious, like a grown man. He reminded Shante so much of his father. “I don’t want anything; I just want you to bring my mama a house.”
A tear trickled down Shante’s cheek.
Then Chris pulled out his report card and gave it to Santa. She hadn’t even known he’d had his report card with him. “See, I did good, Santa.”
The man playing Santa looked at the report card. “Yes, you did great, young man.” Santa then turned to her daughter, Makayla, who was nine. “And what about you, young lady?”
“Same thing my brother said, my mama need a house.”
Santa smiled, and the crowd around them applauded.
One man yelled, “You have some great kids!”
Shante smiled at the memory of that morning. She knew that she had wonderful kids and that they would be content even if they didn’t get anything for Christmas, but she felt obligated—not because they’d made exceptional grades, but because they deserved a good Christmas. But how was she going to get the money? She looked at the bills in her hand. She knew she would get the money some kind of way; she was a hustler. She could try calling her babies’ daddy’s mother, but she couldn’t stand that bitch. She would make it on her own before she lowered herself to begging.
Another stripper, Goldie, walked over to the locker next to Shante, “I didn’t even make that much. Consider yourself lucky.”
Shante continued to get dressed, putting on her wool socks and her Timberland boots, then her coat and finally her scarf. Even dressed like a boy she was a stunning woman. “You don’t have any kids, so consider yourself lucky.” She smiled. “I have twenty-three days left before Christmas, and my two kids want everything.”
Goldie looked sad for Shante, “What about their daddy?”
“That nigga ain’t shit. He don’t even come around, and they haven’t seen his ass in almost two years.”
Shante stood and buttoned her coat, thinking about her date with Big Mike. Maybe he could help her with the Christmas gifts. Shante and Big Mike had met two weeks ago at 7-Eleven. He pulled up beside her in his Benz and offered to pump her gas. She had already taken care of it but thanked him for asking. Big Mike was a huge guy—six feet four and two hundred fifty pounds of dark chocolate. She thought he was cute and charming—and the 600 Series Benz he was driving didn’t hurt either—so she gave him her number.
Excerpted from Christmas in the Hood by Nikki Turner presents. Copyright © 2007 by Nikki Turner. Excerpted by permission of One World/Ballantine, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.