mr. gullifer.jpg

 “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, “Mr. Gullifer.”

It was darkest in one corner of the room.

A man stepped out of the corner.

He got close to me.

He climbed onto the bed.

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…

“Am I too old…

“Is it possible…

“Can I give Aiden my brain?




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. It kept changing.

He covered his face.

One step back. Two.

He 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 went away.

Mr. Gullifer turned away.

Then he drove away.


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INTERVIEW: “I Want to Be a Monkey”

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I don’t often do interviews. But one doesn’t say no to Spider editor Jestine Ware. Peruse our Q&A here.


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ESSAY: The Poet of Rose Street


Walking is still my favorite way to meet dangerous people.

I’ve only been mugged once. The guy looked like me. Exactly like me.

“I’m a writer,” I told him. As he breathed on my empty wallet.

“You can have the wallet, if you want.”

He sniffed it.

“Is it leather?”

I shook my head.

“It’s pretty convincing, though.”

He didn’t look convinced. He passed it back to me.

“Sorry about that,” he said.

My doppelganger walked away.

Probably to work on his novel.


Not everyone who looks dangerous is. I’m assuming.

I was standing at a crosswalk. None of the cars would stop. I’d been waiting ten minutes. The same people who hold the door open for you at the grocery store will try hard to flatten your skeleton with their cars.

“Hey,” said a guy behind me. A sunburned man. With a mustache.

“Can you guess what I have in this bag?”

He was straining to carry a large black garbage bag.

He was smiling.

I didn’t guess three Texas mickeys of rum. That’s what it was.

“I stole them from the liquor store,” he said.

“And stuffed them down my pants.”

“One down one leg, one down the other.”

“What about the third bottle?” I said.

He only laughed.

His eyes were like puddles of rum.

He laughed again.

He shook my hand.

Then he ran into traffic.

Tires screeched. But he made it to the other side alive. More or less.

“Next time you see me,” he hollered, “call me Buddy Boy.”

“Okay,” I hollered back.

Then I went back to waiting.


You can meet non-dangerous people, too, on a city walk. If you have time.

That’s how I met the Poet of Rose Street. He was an overweight guy who sat on the bench in front of the cathedral across from the ice cream shop. Every night. I sat beside him, sometimes.

Once in a while, the poet would pull a notebook out of his pocket and write down a word or two. It looked like poetry.

It might’ve been a grocery list.

I’m pretty sure he was homeless.

We never talked, really. We just sat there and ate ice cream.

One night, I saw a man run straight out of the cathedral, across the street and into the ice cream shop. He didn’t even check for traffic.

The poet pulled out his notebook, jotted something down. It looked like either ennui or eggs.

I leaned closer but he snapped the notebook shut. And picked up his butterscotch sundae.

I didn’t see the poet for a couple months. I was trying to lose weight. Then I did see him.

Only not on the bench.

He was on the news.

He’d called in a bomb threat at the casino.

I guess he was dangerous after all.

I never saw the Poet of Rose Street again.

I lost ten pounds.


I’ve spent half my life waiting at crosswalks.

There I was again.

I saw an opportunity…

I took one step off the curb. If I’d taken two, a cop car would’ve flattened my skeleton.

I didn’t get a great look at the back seat passenger. But I was pretty sure it was a sunburned guy. With a mustache.

“Buddy Boy,” I whispered.

Then I ran across the street.


First published in Outlook Springs.

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Blue Ocean Panorama

I was the only survivor of flight WC350.

The lady next to me on the plane had—I’m not sure. Her eyes watered constantly. They moved constantly, too.

“I was an English teacher in the 60s. I don’t remember all of my students, of course.”

“I remember Eduardo.”

“He was quiet. Not shy. He was melancholy. A melancholy child. Is there anything more thought-provoking?”

“Eduardo was a good student. A good boy. A nervous boy. I touched his shoulder—once.”

“He wouldn’t eat with anyone. He’d take his lunchbox … and stand in a corner of the room, facing the corner.”

“One day, I came up behind him. As he stood facing the corner. I didn’t want to startle him. I looked over his shoulder.”

“And he turned around. Eduardo…”

“His heart fell down. A jar fell down. And a spoon.”

“Paste. He’d been eating paste. He’d been given paste, to eat. In his lunchbox.”

Her eyes watered onto her lap.

“You look so much—you remind me of him. You have the same way about you. Something … melancholy.”

She leaned in. Tears dropped onto my shoulder.

“What’s troubling you?”

A propeller blew through one side of the plane and out the other.

I felt drunk.


The news explained everything. I watched it constantly, in the hospital.

The debris field was bigger than the Red Sea.

“How did it happen?”

“How did you survive?”

“How does it feel to be the only survivor?”

I was a celebrity. Finally.

It took them a month to find the pilot.

His name was Eduardo.


Rolli’s latest book is The Sea-Wave

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