The Prophet in Burger King
By: Walter G. Esselman

"So, I'm a prophet for the Lord, whose last name is Prophet," commented Caleb over his fries. "Subtle."

The angel—who was sitting across from him—just grunted. While Caleb had been nibbling around his Whopper, Michael was already plowing his way through his second burger.

"You're going to get fat like that," commented Caleb.

"No," replied Michael.

Caleb had only known the archangel for less than a day, but he was quick to realize that they were going need more in their party if he was to get some decent conversation around the dinner table.

"There'll be more," said the archangel between mouthfuls.

"Wha? Are you reading my mind?" asked Caleb in surprise. "That's not cool."

"Keep your thoughts deeper then," said Michael as he moved onto his third Whopper.

"What…what does that even mean?"asked Caleb.

But the archangel did not respond.

A thought burst into Caleb's head. "Wait? I'm not going to have to be celibate while I'm doing this whole ‘Speaking For The Lord' business, am I?"

"Yes," said Michael. "Forever; for all eternity."

Caleb felt like he'd been hit with a brick.

"Oh crap," he said softly. "Eternity?"

Suddenly, the archangel grinned around his burger.

"You…you son of bitch!" growled Caleb. "That's not funny."

"Actually, I never had a mother, so that insult doesn't work," said Michael. "Father just made us."

"On a weekend, when he was bored?" asked Caleb in a snippy tone, who was still stinging from the celibacy ‘joke'.

"Father doesn't take ‘weekends', or sleep, or anything," said Michael. "He likes to keep busy."

"But…everyone needs a vacation now and then," said Caleb.

Michael just shrugged at that.

"So, I'm supposed to preach this new gospel," said Caleb probingly.

The angel nodded.

"The Turning Point gospel," continued Caleb. "And I'll just know what to say?"

"Sometimes," said Michael. "Other times I'll give you the knowledge so that you can set the record straight."

"What record?" asked Caleb. "Like, if someone asks me a question?"

"Sure," shrugged Michael.

Caleb sat back and thought about this. "What kind of questions?"

Michael just kept eating.

Searching around, Caleb saw a young family nearby. They were trying not to look at them, but he had seen them give some furtive glimpses towards this odd conversation.

"Excuse me?" asked Caleb politely.

The father started in concern. "What?"

"It's okay," said Caleb. "I'm sorry to bother you, but if you met an angel—a real one—what would you ask them?"

"Um…," said the father nervously.

"I've got one," said the mother jumping in.

As Caleb turned to regard her, he immediately knew that her name was Mary–Ellen.

"Can you share it with me?" asked Caleb gently.

"Okay," said the mother, but—suddenly on the spot—she hesitated.

"It's okay," said Caleb kindly. And he gave her one of his warmest smiles, which—during his outlaw days—had warmed up more than one jury.

"If evolution is true, why didn't God just tell us that right from the start?" asked Mary–Ellen. "Why tell us that we were made out of dust, or clay, or whatever?"

"Ah, that's actually a good que…," started Caleb, but then he froze. He stood up slowly, and the family eyed him wearily.

Then Prophet spoke.


Gabriel dropped through the clouds in free fall with a huge grin on his face. The ground was fast approaching, so he reluctantly let out his wings, a little bit at a time to slow his fall.


Rug was known throughout the Three Villages as the smartest man in the world. Not only could he count well beyond twenty, but he could write almost two hundred words. But that was only after the sun set. During the day, he watched his flock.

Instinct told him that something was amiss. The flock looked spooked. Loading a stone into his leather sling, Rug waited.

Something rose above the sheep. At first, Rug thought that it was a giant bird, but then he saw that it was a man with wings.

Stunned, the rock fell out of his sling. He scrambled to pick it up.

"Wait!" said man with the wings as he landed. "I mean you no harm."

But Rug had heard that one before. He picked up the rock, and—once loaded—started swinging it. Now, he could loose the stone at any moment.

"Really!" insisted the man with the wings. "I am Gabriel. I was sent by the Lord—your God—to speak of a Testament."

"A what?" asked Rug.

"A writing," said Gabriel. "A writing of where you came from, and where your people are going."

"We're not going anywhere," insisted Rug. "We've been on this land for many summers, and it is ours!"

"No…that's not…," started the angel, but then he paused. "Okay look, let's start again."

"Start with what?" asked Rug in confusion.

"Right. The Lord in the sky has seen your talent with words," tried Gabriel. "And He is impressed."

That got Rug's attention. He did have a vain streak after all.

"Me?" he asked tenuously.

"There are tales I will tell you, not only of this world, but of the Lord above who created everything," said Gabriel. "And you will be able to ask any questions of me."

"What? Any?" muttered the shepherd.

"Any," affirmed Gabriel.

Rug was dumbstruck. He had so many questions. A shepherd had a lot of time to think during the day.

"Actually, I do have a question," he said at last. "Last night, the town elder, Zeb—who has seen almost forty summers—told a tale. He said that we had all come from parsnips."

"Really?" chuckled Gabriel. "Why would anyone use parsnips to make people. Maybe potatoes."

"What's a…poe–tah–toe?" asked Rug.

"Never mind," said Gabriel. "Your descendants will find out about them."

"So—tell me—where do we come from?" asked the shepherd.

"Actually, that's pretty amazing," said Gabriel excitedly. "You see, the Lord has been tending over this world, like a farmer over his field. He created an intricate system by which—through evolution—a single–celled organism can become, well…you."

"I'm a single–celled…what?" asked Rug in confusion.

"Oh no," said Gabriel quickly. "Your ancestors went through fish and primates to get to you."

"My grandfather went through a fish?" asked Rug uncertainly.

"This is further back than that," said Gabriel, still ebullient. "When two people make a child, they combine their DNA. And this has been going on for millions and millions of summers."

Taking a deep breath, the angel took a second to look at his audience. The shepherd was blinking in confusion. Even the sheep, who had come watch, looked confused.

"Err," said Gabriel uncertainly. "Maybe that was a bit much."

"What's dee–n–a?" asked Rug at last. There was nothing in his nearly two hundred word vocabulary for this.

"You know what, let's start over," said Gabriel. "I was just joking." The angel gave a desperate laugh. "The truth. That's what you want."

"Um…yes?" said Rug cautiously.

Glancing right, Gabriel saw just what he needed. He scooped up a handful of dust.

"The truth is that the Lord formed man from dust," started Gabriel. "And then…and then…"

"Yes?" said Rug with more interest.

"He…ah…breathed life in through man's nostrils," said Gabriel, and he exhaled on the dust. "Thus, your ancestors were made by the one true God."

Rug nodded. "Ah! Now that makes sense."


In the Burger King, the reluctant prophet blinked. And then Caleb turned to the archangel.

"You're kidding me!" he exclaimed.

"That's what Gabriel said," shrugged Michael. "He was really worried that Father would be upset over that little white lie."

"And what did He say?" asked Mary–Ellen curiously.

Michael smiled at the memory. "Oh, Father just chuckled and said ‘I guess they're not ready for that one yet'."



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