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Easter Sunday at the Strip Club

Flash fiction by Dakota Parks

Published by Troubadour, 2022

My mother didn’t raise us to believe in God, but that never stopped her from throwing the biggest Easter egg hunt this side of the Mississippi. While other kids posed for pictures on the laps of scary men in shaggy bunny costumes at the local mall or donned purist white dresses at Sunday mass, we Gulfport kids scattered like heathens and candy fiends at the family strip club— diving under chairs, sticking our small hands in the pool table cubbies, searching for cotton-candy-colored eggs. Instead, we each discovered scattered cigarette butts glued to the liquor-lacquered floor, used nipple pasties covered in dust bunnies, and dollar bills shaken loose from our mother’s G-strings, forgotten and discarded behind sniff-row.
The strippers, still smelling of last night’s sweat, baby wipes, and cheap, Japanese Cherry Blossom body spray, took turns lifting the kids up onto the shiny, slick poles, watching them giggle and slide down like born-to-be firefighters. From the top of the pole, looking down upon our mothers, you could hardly make out the bags under their eyes, smudged with sooty mascara, or their crimson-stained, pole-burned hands and bruised thighs as the warm glow of the stage lights anointed their holy faces. As we cracked open our scavenged treasures, finding free drink tokens, Pizza Palace coupons, and sticky sugar squares, my mother shilled out beers to the women, saying, “Drink up, ladies, and go home and get some sleep. You know it’s going to be a busy holiday night—all the men now cleansed and forgiven of their sins.”
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