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Just Call Me Angel of the Morning

by Carl Palmer

Merrillee Rush and The Turnabouts
sang me back to 1968, Key West Florida

Key West Naval Air Station
transition point for soldiers returning
from overseas, Korea and Viet Nam
lots of navy, mostly SEALS
Marine gate guards
one Air Force squadron
one Army HAWK missile battalion
we all got along

no armed missiles warheads in storage
underground warehouses by the flight strip
where I met Dave, air force night watchman
manned with a sidearm, walkie talkie
clipboard, cutoffs and rollerskates
he made the rounds, stayed high
I wired the in-house intercom to a stereo
and we became friends

six months into my tour
an emergency back home
kept me gone for a month
had a girlfriend,
but trusted my car to Dave

he picked me up at the airport
with a new paint job, yellow
pale with an opaic pearl tint
said he’d done it himself , no charge

that night pedestrians and tourists stopped
gaped at the car that glowed in the dark
like the plastic crucifix on a child’s rosary
strategic runway marking paint
top secret, experimental and
no longer accounted for

Dave later ETS’ed and I left for Germany
the Rambler remained in Key West

beach party movies remind me of those times
and certain songs
“Just Call Me Angel of the Morning”

Carl “Papa” Palmer, president of the Tacoma Writers Club, nominee for three Pushcart Prizes and two Micro Awards, from Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, VA, now lives in University Place, WA.