Rolli Stuff

The creative world of Rolli, writer and cartoonist.


RDC AG2015

This week…

A new cartoon in the August edition of Reader’s Digest Canada, on newsstands now. You’ll like it.

Plus – a new review of my most recent story collection, I Am Currently Working On a Novel, in the StarPhoenix. Peruse it.


When Dad died, I talked to an ostrich.

In the waiting room, an ostrich sat down.

“Who let this ostrich in?” I said.

The janitor stared at me.

The ostrich stared at me.

The surgeon walked into the room. He tore off his white mask and put on a serious one.

“You don’t even have to say it,” I said.

I put my head in my hands.

The ostrich put his wing around me.

“Shit,” I said.


We didn’t have the greatest relationship. Dad and I. We didn’t talk. He treated me like shit. I loved him. I realized that after.

When he got sick, I think we got closer. I walked closer to him, I sat closer. We still didn’t talk but…

Then he died.



I put a poster up. I mailed it to my friends.

No one got back to me.

One afternoon, there was a knock on the door.

I got out of bed. I got dressed.

I opened the door.

It was the ostrich.

He sat down on the sofa.

“I’ll make some tea,” I said.


“I don’t remember Dad ever playing with me. He was always too old. Even when he wasn’t. He loved me. He never said it. I said it a lot when I was a kid, but … I didn’t mean it. Not really.”

You can tell an ostrich anything.

“My bedroom was next to Dad’s. He had—he was a romantic guy. I heard him having sex, every time. I sometimes wonder if that screwed me up.”

The ostrich nodded. He was a great listener.

“Some more tea?”


I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t open my eyes. I kept falling asleep. I kept dreaming.

I dreamed I was the last person on Earth. I felt so homesick. Even though I was home.

I crawled into bed—in my dream. I lay there.

Something touched my hair. Something tousled it, like … Dad.

I woke up.

I looked over.

There was something on the pillow, next to me.

An ostrich feather.


One morning. I looked out the window.

The sky was blue.  I hadn’t noticed that. Not in a long, long time.

I made breakfast.

I swept the floor.

I opened the front door and closed it.

I heard something.

I ran back to the window.

I saw the shadow of the ostrich, on the lawn.

Just the shadow.

Then it was gone.


Rolli’s latest story collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and is a finalist for the High Plains Book Award.

Mr. Gullifer

“What are we going to do with him?”


I looked in my heart and heard a nightmare singing.

“Who are you?” I almost said but a voice said, “I’m Mr. Gullifer.”

It was darkest in a corner of the room.

The man stepped out of the corner.

He got closer to me.

He opened his jaw wide and … bit down on my head.

I heard a crack.

I closed my eyes.

It was still a long time till morning.


“Lamotrigine three times a day, fluoxetine once. Risperidone—you can give it to him at night if he gets drowsy. If he starts vomiting, call me.”


Every night.

I tried not to look at the corner.

I looked.

There was a chair. Mr. Gullifer…

He stood up. His hat just about touched the ceiling.

One step.


He opened his jaw.

I closed my eyes.

He crawled on top of me.

He bit my lips shut.

He bit down hard.

I swallowed hard.

I cried.

No one heard me.


“What are we going to do?”


Mr. Gullifer was sitting on my chest. Digging his…

“Why do you like me?” he said.

I was too scared.


He dug his fist into my heart.


I wanted to cry.

I was too scared.


I closed my eyes.

I had a lot of pain in my heart.

I closed my eyes tight.




“I’m eighty-four years old.”

“Mmm hmm.”

“I can’t live forever.”




“I’m wondering…

“Can I donate…

“Am I too old…

“Is it possible…

“Can I give Jimmy my brain?


“Doc? Are you alright?”


I looked at the corner.

Mr. Gullifer.

He stood up. His hat touched the ceiling, this time.

One step.

I wanted—I didn’t stop looking.

Two steps.

Mr. Gullifer opened his jaw.

I swallowed the air. All of it.

I wanted to cry.

I didn’t.

I wanted to close my eyes. But … I kept looking.

When I looked at Mr. Gullifer’s face, it changed. It was—it didn’t look like anything. It looked like nothing. His hat was a shadow. It changed and changed back. It kept changing.

He covered his face.

One step back. Two.

Mr. Gullifer sat back down. He closed his jaw.

I blew the air back into the room. All of it.


“We love you. We love you. We love you. We love you. We love you.”


I couldn’t sleep.

I looked at the corner.


I got out of bed.

I looked behind me.

I looked out the window.

The blue night was beautiful.

I looked down. I saw a painted cart with a horse hooked up to it. Mr. Gullifer was getting into the cart. He was sitting down.

He turned his head. He looked up at me. A long time.

There was a pain in my heart.

It faded away.

Mr. Gullifer turned away.

Then he drove away.



A new story, for you. “A Window.” Plus a drawing. Plus an interview. Over at SmokeLong.



barron's JN 2015

I have a new cartoon in this week’s edition of Barron’s. On newsstands now.


high plains 2015

My most recent story collection, I Am Currently Working On a Novel, is a finalist for the High Plains Book Award (Short Story Category).

View the complete list of finalists here.

Order an autographed copy of I Am Currently Working On a Novel here.


When I’m depressed, I get as low down as I can. If the couch doesn’t cut it, I go on the floor. Then I’ll try the bed in the basement or the basement floor.

I was beating myself in the head, one day. I was beating my head on the basement floor. I couldn’t think of anything. When your head’s an empty ballroom with a dead balloon on the floor…

I touched my head. I couldn’t feel it. It wasn’t there.


I crawled upstairs and out the door.

I crawled across the backyard. A rusty nail went through my hand.

I crawled over some roses.

I grabbed a pickaxe and a shovel from the tool shed.

In the basement…

I swung the pickaxe at the wall. Digging down on a slant. Shoveling the junk behind me.

My neighbour showed up.

“Maybe you’re not depressed,” she said. “Maybe you’re just a writer.”

I kept swinging. A rock chip hit me in the eye.

My folks showed up. It sounded like them.

“I’m worried.”

“I’m worried you’re reducing your property value.”

I stopped for a second.

Then I felt my head. I could feel it a little. I thought.

I kept shovelling. I cut a salamander in half.


It was getting dark down there. Deep down. I felt depressed. I hadn’t felt that good in a long time.

I kept digging. I dug up … it looked like the skeleton of a little animal. Maybe a cat. It was too dark to tell.

I had a cat once.

“You’ve gotta stop sometime,” said someone.

That terrified me. There’s an elevator in my throat. It went all the way up.

I kept swinging.

The tunnel was twelve feet deep, now.

I felt my head. I could definitely feel it. It was there. But…

“You’ve gotta stop sometime.”

Fuck it, don’t think about it.

I looked back at the mouth of the tunnel. For just a second. The faces…

They looked just like teeth. Like white teeth.

I kept swinging. I kept shovelling.

I had a headache.

I hadn’t felt that good in a long time.



Rolli’s latest story collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and shortlisted for the High Plains Book Award.

A Cartoon, for You…


It’s in the new June issue of Prospect. On page 80.

Dear Author…



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