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Eugene Dennis Donaldson

Gino's in Baltimore

Old pros never die, all they do is open
a burger joint and name it after themselves,
like Whitey’s, like Joe’s, Bubba’s, & Gino’s.

My first job, a Gino’s bun-boy. I advanced
to the window, became the face of the franchise,
a Gino’s cashier. Soft buns were toasted, given
a squirt of mustard & ketchup, finished off
with a round slice of sweet-green pickle.

City boys talked fast, and moved faster—all
were so street smart. New orbits of life were in
constant motion. City cops came through
the back door, arms full of dress clothes
for sale; they ate for free.

Our parking lot sat on the corner of North Ave.
& St. Paul Street. Weekend nights became
a stage for a menagerie of characters. Wig-haired
tall men in heels, garishly made-up, bright satin
dresses, blatant & boisterous vying for center
stage. They queens, boy—never seen a drag
queen before?

A woman ordered a cheeseburger and a coke.
I asked, Want fries? She told me to stick the fries
up my ass. “Christ sake Lady, we ask everybody
the same thing.” The city boys were laughing
their heads off. I had talked back to the woman
who made the Supreme Court remove the Lord’s
Prayer from public schools.

I disliked her instantly, but I had no idea who
she was. Nights after the episode the city boys
would always say to me, Christ sake—Lady!
Known in the press as “Most Hated Woman
in America.” Madalyn O’Hair paid me
thirty-five cents, then strutted her bold, fat ass
back to the parking lot.
Eugene Donaldson was born in Hartford County, MD. He has worked as a steel mill laborer, a tavern owner, and primarily an art director in the federal government. He thinks of himself as a student of art & poetry. He began his journey in Fine Arts at the University of MD. He has appeared in Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, University of California, and in the White Cresset Arts Journal. He has been a finalist for the Jimenez-Porter Literary Prize 2019 (Univ. of MD).
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