The Prophet

Nick Lantz

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Nighttime. Just off stage right, the noise and lights of traffic on a busy road. Entering from stage right, an Animal drags itself, uttering pained sounds punctuated by sickening howls. Its injuries are so severe we cannot tell what sort of animal it is—perhaps a raccoon, a possum, a hare. Its body oozes blood from every orifice. We can barely look at it. It continues to drag itself across the stage until it reaches a ditch, where a chorus of Frogs takes notice. The Frogs speak as if singing a round, each picking up the same line at different points.

FROGS: Hey there! Stop there! Who goes there?

The Animal sputters, clears blood from its mouth.

ANIMAL: A car hit me. I was dragged.

FROGS: Hmph! Quite the mouthful, that name. You must be some sort of foreigner. Let’s see you papers!

ANIMAL: I have to tell you something.

FROGS: Foreign propaganda! Filth! Lies! You won’t catch us with our pants down—no sir!

ANIMAL: I’ve got news from the other side of the road.

The Frogs scoff and guffaw.

FROGS: Other side? So you’re a foreigner and a heretic. We don’t go in for blasphemy here. No sir, no sir!

ANIMAL: I was talking to a bird.

FROGS: A bird! Never trust a bird! They’ll peck your eyes out just as soon as look at you.

ANIMAL: Please. The bird said. The bird said.

The Animal loses consciousness. Perhaps it has died. The Frogs lean forward in anticipation. After a moment they clear their throats.

FROGS: Well? Well? Speak up! Don’t let us stop you! You may be a foreign blasphemer, but this is still a free country. We observe the right of the sinful outcast to speak his mind, even if it is to rail against all that is good and just.

A pause.

Well then!

Tentative—first one, followed by the rest—the Frogs climb out of the ditch and approach the Animal. They stand around it.

What could a bird have to say? And to you? Who do you think you are? If a bird has something to say, lying murderous shit-brain though he is, he should say it to us. Come right out in the open and speak his mind. We pride ourselves on tolerance around here. Everyone gets a chance. A fair fucking shake.

A pause. They are furious.


One of the Frogs nudges the Animal with its foot. Then kicks it, hard.

What we don’t like around here is elitists. Those who think they’re better than others. You bourgeois shit!

In a frenzy, they kick the Animal until they are out of breath. They stand there, panting. One by one, they turn and walk away, back to the ditch. A few spit on the Animal. They return to their spots in the ditch. They shift and fidget.

What does a bird have to say anyway, huh? Tell me that? Will you just tell me that?



ART: Zachary Tate Porter, Jeannie Vanasco

FICTION: Katya Apekina, John Henry Fleming, Lacy Arnett, Claire Harlan Orsi, Chantel Tattoli

NONFICTION: Emily Carr, Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Johanna Stoberock, Steve Wasserman

POETRY: Janelle Adsit, Ryan Bender-Murphy, Monica Berlin & Beth Marzoni, Dan Chelotti, Lisa Ciccarello, Christopher DeWeese, Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney, Tyler Gobble, Fanny Howe, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Nick Lantz, Matthew Lippman, Aditi Machado, Alice Miller, Marc Paltrineri, Christopher Rey Pérez, Allan Peterson, Jessica Poli, Lynne Potts, Dan Rosenberg, M. C. Rush, Ed Skoog, Cindy St. John, Russel Swensen, Emily Toder, Laurie Saurborn Young

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