Prophet
By: Walter G. Esselman

Caleb Prophet looked up warily as a man came into the police interrogation room. Prophet sized him up in a second. He noted that, while the man was a little on the short side, he was powerfully muscled. He also looked like someone who was not used to taking crap.

"So, you want to break out the rubber hoses already?" asked Prophet who stressed a bored tone, despite his nerves. "I've been waiting almost two hours in here."

"I wasn't exactly around the block," replied the man calmly. He sat, and opened a thick manila folder, which had the name 'Prophet, Caleb Samuel' on the tab. The man began to flip through the folder absently.

Prophet waited a moment, and then he began to grow impatient.

"Can we just get this over with?" moaned Prophet. "Book me already."

That got the man's attention. "You want to be booked by the police?"

"Well, no," admitted Prophet. "I'd like to go home and have an ice cream cone, but we both know that that's not going to happen. So, just do your thing so we can get this over with."

"What happened last night?" asked the man.

"Got caught," shrugged Prophet.

"That is the short answer," replied the man slowly. "However, you called the cops."

"Not exactly. I called 911, who sent a cop car first," said Prophet. "Who are you anyway? You the detective in charge of this? I haven't seen a badge, or a…"

"Call me Michael," said the man.

"Okay Mike…," started Prophet.

"NOT Mike," said the man with hard authority. "Michael. Just Michael."

"Okay 'Just Michael'," said Prophet, and Michael balled up his rough workman's hands, but he did not say anything more.

Prophet continued. "So, I got the cops involved. Not one of my brightest moves."

"Why call?" asked Michael.

Prophet opened his mouth to speak, and then shut it. At last he spoke. "I don't know."

Michael looked at the man for a moment, and then back at the papers in front of him. They were meticulously organized.

"You broke into a home last night around 11:45 pm, and collected several items to steal," said Michael. "That's when Mr. Roberts came into the kitchen."

"Who was not supposed to be there!" insisted Prophet hotly. "He was supposed to be on some cruise with his wife. What the hell was he doing there?"

"You mean, besides living in his own home?" asked Michael with an arched eyebrow.

Prophet just glared at him. "You know what I mean."

"Mrs. Roberts found out about Tiffany." explained Michael without explaining.

"Who the hell is Tiffany?"

"Tiffany is Mr. Roberts' mistress."

"Oh."

"Mr. Roberts was suddenly not invited on the cruise, so he was home," said Michael. "And then he walked into the kitchen," huffed Prophet in annoyance, but he stilled. "So, how is he doing?"

"Mr. Roberts is in stable condition, but it was close," said Michael. "The doctor said that if you hadn't stayed and administered CPR, he'd be dead."

Prophet closed his eyes. "I can't wait for the reenactment of this on America's Stupidest Criminals."

"This is your third strike too," said Michael. "You're going to go away for the rest of your life."

"Just twist the knife," moaned Prophet.

"Did you know that this was your third strike?" asked Michael.

"God dammit! What the hell was I supposed to do? Let him die?" growled Prophet.

"Don't take the Lord's name in vain," snapped Michael with force.

Prophet heard it, and saw the dark look in Michael's face.

"Okay," said Prophet, slowly and carefully.

Michael collected himself. The dark look vanished, and it was replaced by a more neutral look.

"I'm just feeling stupid," explained Prophet.

"You made a choice," said Michael.

Prophet sighed. "I guess I'll get used to prison food."

"Have you read the Bible?" asked Michael.

Prophet blinked in confusion. "What?"

"Have you read the Bible?" repeated Michael.

"Um, not for a while, and probably not all of it," said Prophet. "You're not going to start preaching at me, are you? I got plenty of time to find God where I'm going."

"You've lost your faith?" asked Michael.

"Well, no," admitted Prophet. "I'm just not big on organized religion."

Michael smiled briefly at that, as if Prophet had said something right.

"What's this all about?" asked Prophet. "Detectives are not supposed to preach religion, are they?"

"Who said I was a detective?" asked Michael, allowing a little smile.

Prophet stilled and looked at the man in front of him again. Clean shaven in a neat blue suit. But Prophet kept coming back to the man's hands. Hands that have torn off people's limbs, because Michael needed a cudgel.

"Lawyer?" asked Prophet. He suddenly wanted to back up, but the chair was bolted to the floor. "Who the hell are you?"

"I'm here to offer you a job," said Michael.

"What kind?"

"I can smooth over this evening," said Michael. "No charges will be levelled against you, and you will be released on your own."

"What's the catch?" asked Prophet.

"Where you walk," said Michael.

"What the hell does that mean?"

"Turn left, and you can be home in a half an hour," said Michael. "And then you can go back to your life of thieving, and delay your inevitable incarceration."

"Or?"

"Turn right and walk with me."

"And where does that lead?"

"The world is at a tipping point. Things are changing rapidly, and soon there will be a fork in the road. The world will be exactly where you are now. Decision time."

"And if they go left?" asked Prophet.

"There is only so much morphine you can give to the dying."

"But if they go right?"

Michael smiled. "That is where you come in. It is not irony that your name is Prophet. You are actually one of several who could have stepped forward. And I hope it is you."

"And you want me to…what?" asked Prophet.

"Speak The Word," said Michael.

"As in…," started Prophet, but he stopped. He then pointed up at the ceiling.

"Yes."

"You're kidding me."

Suddenly, Michael stood, and his bright wings snapped open behind him. They reached from wall to wall in the tiny room. Prophet pressed back against his chair in stunned silence.

The wings quickly folded behind Michael, and seemed to disappear.

"Okay, you have my attention," said Prophet. "But there's gotta be better people than me. I mean, there's a Pope isn't there? Bishops and people like that. Lindsay Lohan is probably a step up."

"We want You to speak the Word," said Michael.

"Is this going to be written down?" asked Prophet wearily.

"You just have to Speak, and the Word will flow through you," said Michael.

"Won't my past, you know, get in the way?" asked Prophet.

"Paul was a tax collector before seeing the light. There is, with little exception, always a chance for redemption."

"So we walk the Earth and preach to people?"

Michael nodded. "You will preach and write the new Gospel. The Turning Point Gospel."

Prophet heard the door click open. He looked over and saw Detective Simonson glaring at him.

"Get up Prophet!" barked Simonson.

"What?" asked Prophet, and then he looked over at Michael, but he was not there. Prophet looked around trying to find him.

"What the hell are you looking for?" asked Simonson.

"Um, I…don't know."

"Well, hurry up."

Prophet slowly stood. "So…what's happening."

"Come on," snapped the detective, and he walked out of the door, disappearing from sight.

Cautiously, Prophet walked over to the door and leaned out. The detective was heading towards the front door. Everyone else in the station was going about their business. The detective looked back at Prophet and gave him a bug-eyed look. Prophet followed Simonson to the front door.

"The vic is not pressing charges," growled Simonson at the front door. "Now get the hell outta here."

Prophet was shocked. "What?"

"He felt that—since you saved him—and nothing actually got stolen, you two were square," said Simonson in a low, dangerous voice.

"So, I can go?" asked Prophet, carefully testing the waters.

"Go now, before we think up some way to keep you," spat the detective.

Prophet was not going to ask again. He walked out into the brilliant sunlight, and held up a hand until his eyes adjusted. Stopping out in front of the police station, he stilled. Prophet wondered for a moment if Michael was real. It had felt so real.

Slowly, he looked down the street to his left. Home was there. Though it was barely a home. An old chair that doubled as a mattress. An old TV. An old life.

"What the hell," he grinned.

Prophet turned right and started walking. Nothing happened. This way did not seem much different.

"More different than you think," said a voice just behind him.

Prophet jumped, and stopped to glare at Michael, who was just behind him.

"Don't do that!" cried Prophet

But Michael just grinned unrepentantly.

"So, now what?" asked Prophet.

"We walk," said Michael. Passing Prophet, the angel sauntered down the street. After a moment, Prophet went to follow.

"I don't have to wear a white robe, do I?" asked Prophet.

"Do you want to wear a white robe?"

"I don't have the legs for it."

"Then we can skip the robe," said Michael.

And they walked.

THE END

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