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"Freak Mode" • Dorian Electra (by Caleb Bethea)

The phone ejects a little camera sound. They’re posed in front of the sex club in latex. A crash test dummy colorway stretched around their torso, a chestplate of red LED lights blinking, “FUCK. ME. LIKE. AN. AIRBAG.” In the back of the shot is an Old Testament prophet.

He’s wearing a burlap sack and looks the type to quiver when he imagines John the Baptist’s locusts and honey pulverized across his own teeth. Crash Test Dummy touches the concrete with splayed out rubberboy hands, their pose game heating up. The phone ejects another camera sound, this time at an objectifying angle. The sign in Prophet’s hands reads, “BEHOLD! THE EARTH WILL OPEN UP.” He preaches words all over the sidewalk, somehow falling in rhythm with the bass beat shaking the club, words about girl clothes and sex acts, public debauchery and the shame of nakedness—the reasons why the ground will one day swallow them whole. And that only God’s children will be left to dance on the lips of the earth. Everyone else to the dungeon. That’s where Satan blows the horn. Where the racks and chains come out. Weeping. Gnashing. Amen.

The phone all but lays down on the sidewalk, ready to capture the next image at a truly sexed-up angle. Crash Test Dummy is offering the Prophet a hug, a come-and-feel-this-latex hug, a fuck-around but friendly gesture. The Prophet’s eyes glaze over with possibility, frozen with interpretations of interpretations of religious laws, thousands of years of considerations and conclusions, anti-conclusions, until he opens his arms.

Before Prophet and Crash Test Dummy can embrace, the sex club opens its jaws—human-sized plastic fangs and a whiplash leather tongue out of concrete—swallowing the two new friends whole. Deep into the dungeon belly for them. You try to take the picture, but these aren’t the kinds of things that can be recorded for later interpretation. It’s mostly pretty quiet now anyway.

And you wait your turn in line.

Caleb Bethea is a writer from the Southeast. They earned an MFA at UofSC and now work as an editor. But, the best of their time is spent with their wife and three goblins by the ocean. You can read their work in HAD, Maudlin House, hex, Twin Pies, autofocus, and elsewhere. They tweet at @caleb_bethea_


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