American Prophet | Jeff Fulmer

American Prophet

The following is an excerpt from American Prophet by Jeff Fulmer. It’s a featured Speakeasy selection, and there are still limited review copies available for qualified reviewers.

The greatness of the Bible becomes more manifest when studied within the framework of  universal history.

As his glass empties, the bar fills with the sounds of happy chatter and good-natured laughter. Not a conducive environment for contemplating life’s failures and generally feeling sorry for oneself. It had been that kind of day—and decade.

“Hey,” a voice at his side says. “You look familiar.”

“Oh yeah?” Peter responds without looking over.

“Yeah,” the female confirms. “Weren’t you on TV or something?”

Peter glances over at a woman in her early twenties. He’s surprised she’s old enough to remember, much less recognize him. It’s been ten years since then. He’s forty now.


“Yeah,” the young woman persists, focusing on him now, gesturing with a half-empty glass in her hand. Not her first. “What were you famous for again?”

He takes a swig of his beer, trying to finish up.

As he glances back at his fan, recognition clicks into her inquisitive face. The prying eyes widen; her inebriated smile stretches across her flushed cheeks. “Oh my God,” she announces to the bar. “You were that prophet guy!”

A couple of heads turn in their direction, before going back to their own conversations.

“You predicted that flood, right?” she slurs with a giggle.

Peter drains his glass as he flags the bartender to settle up.

“I have to get a selfie!”

“I’d rather not,” Peter says, watching the bartender flirt with a customer ten feet away.

“Oh, come on,” she insists, pressing into him, raising her cell phone high.

Peter remains mostly turned away, so the photo is of a grinning woman and the back of his head. After he puts enough cash on the bar to cover a couple of beers and a generous, undeserved tip, the ex-prophet pushes away from the bar and starts towards the door.

From behind, he hears the inevitable question, “Have you had any dreams lately?”

Ten years ago, Peter had a series of dreams that came true. At the time, his gift brought him notoriety and controversy, attracting supporters, as well as enemies. It had been a heavy load to bear, so there was a certain amount of relief when it ended.

However, being a former messenger of God wasn’t so easy either. People have their preconceptions. Some admire him; a few still hate him; most just think he is some kind of freak. And yet, he has gotten on with his ordinary, somemight say boring, life.

Pulling into the gravel driveway of his small rented house, he finds it as dark and empty as ever. He’s still single.

Some of his prior girlfriends might say he has commitment issues. Now relationships never seem to get far enough for commitment to be an issue.

Not for the first time, he thinks about getting a dog. He could probably handle that level of commitment, especially now that he’ll have more time on his hands.

Grabbing a beer from the fridge, he plops down on the couch and automatically reaches for the remote. Instead of turning the TV on, he closes his eyes.

For ten years, he’d worked at a local healthcare nonprofit, primarily as a grant writer, although he’d also written
plenty of press releases, newsletters, and donor thank-you cards. When he wasn’t writing, he’d driven patients to their appointments, often being bedside when they were alone and scared.

The pay was crap; but, on good days, he felt like he was making a small difference. Yesterday, he’d been let go because of budget cuts. So, now, he’s unemployed, again.

Only this time, he’s forty, with no idea what his next act is going to be.

God, he feels old—and tired. Clips of dreams come and go, and then — Knock. Knock! The banging comes from my front door.

Before I can get up to answer it, an older, Black man is standing in my living room, ragged clothes hanging loose over a tall, wiry frame. Like a scarecrow, he stares down at me, his eyes burning like coals.

“Peter,” he says, his voice as raspy as wheat and deep as a well.

I know this person. He was a street prophet back when I was having my dreams; a homeless man who had been a guide of sorts. “Jesse?”

“There you are.” Leaning down, Jesse helps himself to the beer on the coffee table, cracking it open with one gnarled finger. “Don’t mind if I do.”

My visitor takes a long drink.

Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, he belches into the crook of his elbow, then fixes his eyes back on me. “So, how you doin’, youngblood?”

“Ah, not so young anymore,” I say back. “How are you?”

“Living the dream!” He brings the beer back up, his Adam’s apple bouncing up and down as he takes another couple of long gulps. When he comes up for air, he announces, with zero fanfare, “I have a job for you.”

“A job?” I ask. “That’s funny. I lost my job today.”

“That a fact?” He finishes the beer with a final chug, dropping the empty on the table.

“Can I get you another?” I ask, to be polite.

Jesse seems to waffle. “I can’t stay,” he decides. “I need an answer on the job.”

“What kind of job?”

This question is not answered. Jesse just looks—down—into my soul. He knows that I know what kind of job. The only question is whether I’m willing…

“Yes,” I answer.

Peter wakes with a start. The room is as empty as the beer can lying on its side—a dead soldier he doesn’t remember killing. Then the dream springs to mind in its entirety.


About the Author

Jeff FulmerJeff Fulmer graduated from Franklin High School in Tennessee and Pepperdine University in California. After working in financial services and real estate (with a brief stint in video production), he now enjoys hiking, fishing, yoga, and traveling. He and his wife are involved in their church and local charities. A lifelong writer, he has self-published a handful of books under pseudonyms, as well as his own name, including Hometown Prophet and American Prophet.

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