VCO: Chapter 8

"VCO" image
Chapter 8

As if I’m being controlled remotely, I step out of the bar and into the street. Cool wind blows in my ear. Its frigid bite resets me, slightly.

I’m going to assume the worst is over and that whatever malfunction my intestinal tract was experiencing was due to ingesting whatever it was in that cocktail. But it seems to have passed now, and I feel good-n-pissed. Downfall is, my whiskyed dick don’t work but I still got energy.

This hasn’t happened in months. Lately the drinking’s been like tears in a well. There’s something beautiful about getting drunk off of less than 10 cocktails. Maybe that’s what people mean when they talk about feeling young again. 

Some important person once said that to surpass oneself is a duty that should last as long as life. In moments like these I give myself permission to have an out-of-body experience and allow my carnal manifestation to do what it pleases while I observe myself.

Within reason. Let’s have fun.

Everhet says no one else on this planet exists if I don’t. If I died right now that’s lights out for everybody else. He’d point to me and then himself, “When you die I’m gone too. What else could happen?” And it would make me want to get away from him, at first. But now I feel like I see the outside world differently.

And that girl, Morgen, why does she seem so stressed? Even though I’m hammered, it still feels kind of desperate for her to go out with me tonight. Maybe she’s a rich exhibitionist, out sampling some of the plebs. Or maybe I am that desirable. Either could be true. But one thing’s for sure, she has the disjointedness of someone who’s got some father problems, if you know what I mean.

Sex has officially faded from my mind for the night. And as such Morgen floated away from me, or maybe my vision is tunneling. 

I need something physical to do soon.

A gaggle of dudes come around the corner. Some of the dudes have boobs. They all have the same haircut and they all walk past without acknowledging me. 

They must be part of a gang because they all just got fresh tattoos, equilateral triangles glistening with Aquaphor on their temples like two-dimensional horns.

Morgen’s lacquer-black hair appears in their midst for a second, then bobs and weaves, moving like a hole in the universe. Obsidian. Deep space black. Then she steps forward and dissolves into the mob like an apparition. 

It was the way she waved and said, “Cheers.” that made me move toward her. I lean into the crowd to follow her. 

I’m T-boned by one of the dudes within the gaggle, who told me to, “Watch where I was going.”

I suggest he should, “Fuck off.”

“What was that?” He says then turns toward me and raises his arms like a vulture. Then his whole crew turns around. Each one of their eyebrow’s furrowed toward their nose bridge.

I watch myself raise my middle finger while blowing raspberries. I turn around to see Morgen’s reaction to this hilarious stunt. She’s closing the door to a black town car. 

Wait so she didn’t need a ride? I’m so confused.

The voice of one the dudes with triangle tattoos says, “Wanna try that again you fa—”

My head never made its full rotation back to face my aggressors. 

Visuals offline. Deep space black.

All sound disappears except the grit of sneakers on sidewalk. 

My head went light.

Then there was a crack.

Head fist collision.

Brain jump wall.

Snap sever sky rope.

Detachment release float.

The light is in my eyes again. Then the physical pain.

Lightening jolt. Abdomen crush.

And crush. 


I drop instinctively. 

I’m already falling toward the pavement before the first dude even hits me. 

The streetlights weigh nothing and they fly back and forth as another fist, and another fist, and another fist, another fist, then fist, fist, and fist.

I turn on my side into a cocoon as a form of yielding on the blacktop.

In the split second before I roll onto my stomach I see people on the sidewalk watching this happen. And it confirmed what I always knew to be true but never truly felt. No one is coming to help. But everyone is watching.

My skin felt swollen and tight with inflation I feared my head was going to explode the next time my heart thumped. 

The violence of the gaggle compounded into a swarm of fists not aiming for any specific target. Swinging madly at one another. So as they all club each other in a blind brawl, I army crawl my way beneath invisible barbed wire to a utility access hole for the sewers that was squared off by caution tape with triangles and some other icons and symbols on it. 

I never know which symbols are technically VCOs and which symbols aren’t anymore.

Into the sewer I pull myself headfirst over the lip. Push my head over the edge, look down, into the underground. Lunge my weigh forward, and tip.

The fall felt like forever. 


James Jacob Hatfield is a displaced engineer, a painter, and many other contradictions. His work has appeared in X-R-A-Y, Maudlin House, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Barely South Review, Chaleur Magazine, Havik, and others. His ekphrasis poem “torrents of lahar, No. 36” was anthologized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. He is a Sterling Fellow and a Weymouth Fellow. He is the creator and curator of the Gemini Sessions Substack. He lives in Durham, NC.

Follow Vol. 1 Brooklyn on TwitterFacebook, and sign up for our mailing list.