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Robert

Roman

Empire

RED BRICK ALLEY STORIES

The Killards Are Coming

Every damn day in Religion Class, Sister Anna Banana yapped about the Soviets revving up to start a nuclear war with the new president, Ronald Reagan. She said after the cities burned to Holy Hell, there’d be something called “nuclear winter” that would kill all... 

Double-Strength Demon Dogs

Fantastic Freddie was the only altar boy from the Red Brick Alley. He was always consecrating Ritz Crackers and trying to make us eat them like communion wafers. He light-fingered incense from the sacristy, and he blessed water from Old Lady Tully’s spigot...

Laser Loop

I couldn’t see over the tall green school bus seat except when we hit a pothole and I bounced up in the air like a Pop-Tart jumping out of a toaster. Nobody at Saint Augie’s could believe I was allowed to go. My first school picnic ever. I was good from the day I handed in my pink...

The Boy Wonder

How the Hell did Jaggerbush get himself up there? He was clawing his way up into the open window above the Science class door like a real-life gargoyle. The blockhead of a wooden mallet stuck out of the back of his Toughskins where his butt crack was. He wore three...

About The Author

Rob.jpg

Robert Roman grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where he sold newspapers to cars from a concrete island. Read more→

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  • Robert Roman

My Own Private Ulysses: Megalomania at Martello


"Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round gunrest. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding land and the awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bent towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and shaking his head."


Malachi “Buck” Mulligan, the rottenest roommate in Dublin, has kicked off the day, and the book, by profanely pantomiming the Catholic Mass. Page one, and Joyce has already sent the pious half of the crowd sprinting for the exits. Keep your skirts on folks, this silly sacrilege is only a teeny tiny taste of the screamer Joyce pulls 347 pages later in the Circe episode.

Before straight-man Stephen ever appears, blasphemous Buck solemnly marches around the parapet of Martello Tower at 8 AM bearing his shaving bowl chalice-like and intoning liturgical Latin in his ungirdled gown, weenie wagging in the wind.

A few decades ago, I worked on a late-night quiz show where contestants removed one article of clothing for each question they failed to answer. Seriously. The show briefly gurgled for life on the aptly named USA Network, the same tastemakers responsible for “Up All Night with Rhonda Shear.”

Some of the writers were always trying to be funny, always performing, always “on.” Especially when the executive producers mustered up the fortitude to venture the halls making certain their team wasn’t sleeping or shooting up.

What's different about Doctor Mulligan’s profane performance? He’s alone before Stephen arrives. All alone. Solipsism requires no audience.

If a joke falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, is it still funny?


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