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"Rainbow Meat" • Chat Pile (by Caleb Bethea)

It’s not the song you’d pick for making out in the car, but shuffle mode works in mysterious ways. It’s just tongues at first, but when the opening lines hit we can feel it in the air that shuffle was a mistake but we don’t know each other well enough to unclamp our mouths to switch the song so we retreat to just lips. But, much to our surprise—we can feel this in the air too—the tone of the song starts to make sense for what we’re doing. Tongues again. The center console big as a freeway keeping us from pressing our bodies together so we just get as handsy as we can. The song’s wrapping up but now we know each other well enough to detangle ourselves and address the issue. My thumb taps around the screen and locks the song on repeat. Back to mouths. A few more plays and I’m pretty sure we accomplish a mind transferral, or a body swap, however you wanna word it. All I know is that I’ve got body parts I didn’t have at the beginning of the song and someone’s clutching them like the world’s about to end and honestly they have a point. But pretty soon my mind slips out of the whole thing and I land in the glovebox. It’s dark and cramped and now our skin’s filling up the inside until we’re too big to fit and we leak into the engine. That’s a whole journey because someone’s at the wheel now, probably the song itself, ripping the gears into a roar and fucking crashing into people’s living rooms. We wonder who’s taking a bumper to the torso as we make out with the new slime our bodies are. We exist only to lay tongues on the metal. It tastes sharp and like something outside of time itself. It’s nice down here—swirling flesh in the cosmos of the engine. But the new wheelman swerves into a drive-thru and the fumes of all the cars waiting for roast beef sandwiches bring us back to earth. Now we’re just kinda here.

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


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