Pastoral Genocide


The Kennedy Snuff
November 14, 2008, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags: ,

Richard Glascock was doing it. Really doing it. Everything felt right. He was laying the ball down on the ground and watching it roll and listening to the thundering crack of the pins as they burst out of formation. It felt right from his first roll and he was now on his eighth and he knew it, he knew that this was it.

Richard Gloscock had pursued this moment for his entire life. Well, most of his life. He’d been a bowler since he was seven years old. He went with his dad, at first. Then his dad went to the penitentiary and he went by himself. All in all, though, he’d been bowling for 58 years. 58 years is a long ass time. A whole lot of shit had happened in 58 years.

Richard lined up for the ninth frame. He dried the sweat from his palms. He took a swig of beer and a drag from his cigarette. He coughed, once. He exhaled and selected his ball from the return. He placed his right foot on the center most dot and his left foot two dots down. It felt right. He exhaled and took three steps forward. One. Two. Three. Release. It felt right. He watched his ball turn over and gently hook from right to left. The pins separated violently. The only thing that separated him from perfection was one frame and three rolls. He took the last drag from his smoldering cigarette and pressed it out in the ashtray. He parsed over his situation and took a deep sip from his beer. It was cold and good and it calmed him down.

He had to piss. He was nervous and his head was foggy and he took a short walk. He was bowling with three other people. Three guys he worked with. Bud, Chris, Joe Demmers. Joe Demmers was a real son of a bitch. He was the night mechanic and a lousy asshole.

Richard pushed open the restroom door and nearly knocked Morty Stevens to the floor. Morty was coming out and he was coming in. They looked at each other awkwardly and Richard said, I’m sorry Morty. And Morty looked at him and said, it’s no problem Dick. How you rolling them tonight? And Richard, afraid of the jinx, said not too bad, Mort, not too bad. He walked to the urinal and unzipped. His penis felt soft in his hands and he managed a slow, meaningless dribble onto the pink urinal cake. He waited for something, perhaps, more substantial to leak out. But nothing did. Pathetic. The damndest thing about getting old was that nothing worked right anymore.

On his way back to the lane, Richard thought about his ex-wife. Shirley. What a royal cunt. The mother of his children, nonetheless. If he rolled a 300 today, he made up his mind that he’d call that bitch and let her know a thing or two.

By the time he made his way back over to the guys, they were irritated. What the hell were you doing in there, Bud asked. Pulling your goddamn pud? We’ve been waiting here for ten goddamn minutes. Bud knew full well that Richard Glasock hadn’t had a feasible erection in over five years. He was a silly, stupid old man but right now he felt on top of the fucking world. He felt like he was 19 and ready to take the world by storm, like he felt before the war and like he felt again when walked off those docks and into New York City and threw his cap into the storm sewer. Life is really something.

He prepped. The overhead lights dappled the glossy, waxed lanes with bright orbs. He focused and blurred everything else out. This was it. He dried his hands. He took a deep breath. He grabbed his ball from the ball return and lined himself up. He threw the ball down the lane. He felt the strike before it was a strike. He had that feeling in his stomach, like he was on the precipice. A gentle pause before a great leap. He waited for the pins to be reset. He waited for his ball. He heard Joe Demmers say, don’t fuck this up now you old coot. He thought about what a fucking prick Joe Demmers was. Who says something like that? A fucking asshole, that’s who.

Richard Glascock dried his hands. He took a deep breath. He took the ball from the ball return. He lined up, his right foot on the center dot and his left foot two dots down. He took a deep breath and thought about his throw. He walked towards the fault line. One. Two. Three.He threw. The pins cracked and spun and fell down. He turned and looked at Bud and Chris and that cocksucking son of a bitch Joe Demmers. They said, atta boy, Dick, you did it. You fucking did it. Atta boy. Joe Demmers said, I knew you were going to do it. I just knew it.

Richard Glascock thought about what he had done. He basked in it, he felt proud. The alley was smoky and it rose to the ceiling and pooled like a cloud. To clouds and to tornados, he thought. He felt a knot tie and untie itself in his stomach. His chest cramped. He breathed out, exhaled hard. He balled his fists and tried to steady himself. He felt dizzy. He fell to the floor and felt whitecaps of static pour over him.

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The Only Bad Part about Flying is Landing
September 13, 2008, 6:15 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , ,

She’s telling me about her dream while we’re sitting at the kitchen table. It’s early in the day, not quite light yet. I’m tired and yawn while I hand her a cup of coffee. She’s got a look on her face, a distant and quixotic look. She sighs like she’s been somewhere and, now, she’s glad to be back. She says to me, “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t breathe; at first, there was everything and then there was nothing and it didn’t matter to me, either way. I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Her recollection of her dream is foggy and inconclusive. It has a non-linear plot and it’s hard to follow. I try, though. I like hearing her dreams. They’re a slice of her, a piece of something meaningful. It’s a personal thing, sharing your dreams. I don’t often remember my dreams. We’ve been married eight years and only recently has she started telling me about where she goes when she falls asleep.

Anyway, she’s saying that it started slowly. Her dream. She was walking to work like she always walks to work. “I didn’t know it was a dream, at first,” she says. “It was bright day, a blue day. It was beautiful and I remember thinking that this was kind of day that makes you feel good to be alive.” I know about those kinds of days so I nod my head.

She continues, “Everything changed, though. I got closer to the shop and the air seemed heavier, like a cold front was moving in. But there was no wind, nothing. The day looked the same but it felt, um, different. And then I noticed that there was no sound, anywhere. It was quiet and I felt so alone. But I wasn’t scared. I was just there and I was walking to the shop, counting my steps.”

She’s been trying to get into shape, lately. So she counts her steps. She told me that she tries to walk seven miles a day and figures that one of her steps is equal to two feet. That way, according to her, one mile is equal to two thousand and ten steps and seven miles is equal to eighteen thousand and four hundred steps. I don’t know how she keeps track of it all. To me, her schematics seem neither worthwhile nor efficient. But that’s how she is. It’s endearing.

So, she’s counting her steps and almost to work when it starts to rain. “It was the weirdest thing, she says. “It was raining but it was sunny and the rain was coming down in big, fat drops. It wasn’t making any sound. Everything was quiet, but I could smell the rain. It was waterlogged and heavy, you know, but it also smelled good. Comfortable, like everything was different but that was okay. And the drops were hitting me but I wasn’t getting wet.”

She says she gets to the shop and unlocks the door, like she does every morning. She steps inside and she notices it smells like coffee. “It smelled fresh and new and it was, you know, a good thing. Like, I’ve always loved the smell of coffee, maybe more than I like to drink it. I think a lot of people are like that. I am.” And I think about it for a second and I agree. She’s right, coffee is about anticipation, about gentle pauses and the logistics of inhalation.

“And then, it everything turned upside down,” she says, her face curdling into a frown. She’s concerned about her dream and even now that she’s awake, it’s following her. “I heard this siren, like a tornado siren. It was close and I could tell the megaphone was circulating. It was loud and then it would sort of slink into the distance and then it would get loud again. I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there. It started to get hot, like really hot and the siren was still going off and from the window I could see that the sky was still distant and blue and I’ve never been so confused before.”

She stops for a second, to take a sip of coffee. She spills some on her shirt and says “goddamnit.” She grabs for a napkin and tries to wipe it off. But her shirt is cotton and the coffee has soaked in. She looks at me and continues onward. She’s talking fast, like she’ll forget it if she doesn’t get everything, absolutely everything, out right away.

“I go outside and then I see a formation of planes flying over my head. They’re dropping things, black specks that look like aspirin pills, out of their bellies and it takes me a minute to realize that these are bombs and they’re dropping them right on top of me, they’re floating down from above. I’m scared, you know. I’m scared that I’m going to die and that these bombs are going to kill me. I’m scared and I don’t know what to do so I run inside and sit under the front desk. I try to remember what we learned when we were in school and we had to practice against the Russians coming and dropping bombs on us. So I grab a thick book and I’m cowering there.”

“Then, I hear a boom and everything shakes. It just like what I expected it would be like. It was so loud and I was scared and all I could think about was those poor people in Iraq and how their lives must be so hard. Everything went fuzzy and white and then I wake up. But I don’t really wake up; it’s just part of the dream. I’m lying in bed and you’re gone. There’s a depression in the sheets but it’s cold and you’re gone and I don’t know where you are. I feel so alone, I want you to be next to me and you aren’t and I don’t know what to do.“

She looks shaken. She’s always been a very beautiful woman. Her face is perfect and there’s not a single thing about it I would change. Right now, it’s draped with a look of childish concern that makes me want to hug her. But I don’t. We just sit there and then she starts talking again.

“I get out of bed and I look for you and I find you in the garage. You’re pouring gasoline into the lawnmower and I try to get your attention. I say ‘John,’ really loudly, but you don’t look up. I walk over to you and I touch you but you don’t notice. All I want is for you to notice me but you don’t. I’m not there but I am and it’s so confusing that I go back into the house and sit on the couch and think about things. I’m trying to make sense of everything but I can’t and suddenly I feel so sleepy. It’s a good sleepy, a comfortable sleepy and I sort of fall into it, you know, start to fade in and out and I feel so warm and happy. But I don’t know why I feel happy, I just do. That’s the last thing I remember.”

And then she gets up. She clears the coffee cups from the table and places them in the sink and goes upstairs. I hear the water turn on and I know that she’s stepping into the shower. I’m still in the kitchen, alone and thinking about her dream.



Iowa
September 8, 2008, 4:45 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags: ,

Everybody got fucked, in way or another. My dad went to jail for a couple years. My sister caught a meth addiction. My mom ran off with a biker hick named Johnny Watson. I got into a car accident and had my left arm amputated.

So, it went from bad to really bad to intolerably bad. The bottom fell out. My parents always drank. It got worse, like all these things always do. They started drinking more and hitting each other. It’s hard to hold either one more accountable than the other. I know that sounds weird to say. Men shouldn’t hit women, I agree with that. But she started it as much as he did. They’re both to blame and there’s no way around it.

I’m not sure why they stayed married, really. If you no longer love someone, you no longer love them. In the bigger scheme of things, that’s ok. It happens. The personality is not a static thing. It changes and reinvents itself. But these people, my parents, they aren’t practical people, rational people. They are near-sighted reactionaries of the classic sort. They deal with bad things by drinking harder and longer and screaming terrible things at each other.

The night it happened was miserable. Everything about it. The day had dragged itself along like a dying animal, humid and endless. It was hard to breathe, everything seemed so goddamn sticky. They started drinking early because it was Saturday. By dinner time, there had been yelling. My dad threatened to hit her. That was always a bad sign, a harbinger of a soon to arrive certainty.

By eight o’clock, the sun was gone and the moon had roosted like a blood orange in the early September night. They were going at it, hard. She was slurring something and he was slurring something and none of it, really, made any sense. She threw a knife at him and he threw a left hook at her. She missed; he didn’t. The neighbors called the cops and they showed up to find her sitting on the floor with her three front teeth in her hand. She was pretty bloody and mad as hell. He locked himself in the bathroom and the cops had to break the door down to get at him.

I thought, eventually, she would calm down and ask for his release. She didn’t. She pressed charges, took it to trial. She told the County that he raped her and hit her on the regular and was the kind of guy that needed to be locked up. I don’t disagree with her.

They gave him three years, two of them suspended. They sent him to a real jail, not County. He was a repeat offender and they did what they said they would do after the last time he got arrested. Two weeks after my dad got to prison, he joined a white power gang and stabbed a Mexican. The guy almost died, apparently. They revoked my father’s suspension and gave him the full sentence plus two more. I don’t disagree with that decision, I really don’t.

My mom filed for and received her divorce shortly after the trial had ended. She started hanging around with this piece of shit named Johnny Watson. I hate that sonofabitch. He’s a fucking pervert and I’d like to slash his throat. He’d stare at my sister’s ass like it was alright, like it was perfectly normal for a 47 year old man to gawk openly at the 19 year old daughter of his girlfriend. He’d say sick things to her, ask her twisted questions about twisted things and laugh in this growling cackle that would make your skin crawl.

I told my mom he was no good and she didn’t listen. He bought her whisky drinks at the bar and treated her with disingenuous respect and took her out to the movies every now and again. He didn’t hit her. She liked that, I guess. She stayed with him. They moved down to Houston about a year ago and I haven’t heard from her since. I don’t miss her.

But my sister missed her. They had always gotten along alright and they had their own personal relationship that I wasn’t privy to. Good for them, you know? Anyway, she missed her and felt bad about things and started doing things that she shouldn’t have been doing. She got hooked on meth and now she’s a skeleton with rotten teeth. I don’t recognize her eyes anymore and I think she’s gone. That kills me. She’s my baby sister, you know? We went through all this together and now she’s leaving.

Maybe I’m taking the easy way out, blaming my mom’s departure for my sister’s destruction. I’m not sure. It doesn’t and can’t matter at this point. What’s done is done and there’s no sense in arguing with any of it. I do know that I feel alone and abandoned and that I miss the way things used to be. Even though they were bad, far from anything or anywhere close to perfect, it was something. Occasionally, things were good. Christmases and days at the beach in the summer.  Ephemeral? Of course. But that was part of what made them good. Now, I feel pretty lonely about most things and it’s hard because I’ve got no one to talk about anything with.

About six months ago, I got into a bad wreck with a pickup truck. It was snowing a little bit and I lost control. I slid across the median and side-swiped a blue F-150 and sheared the hell out of the side of my car. My arm got caught up in the wreckage and I woke up in the hospital in more pain than you could imagine. They told me my options and said I needed to act fast. I told them to cut it off, if meant not dying. So, now I’ve got one arm and four hundred thousand dollars in hospital bills.

Losing my arm doesn’t have much to do with anything, other than the sense that I’m tired of all these bad things happening to me. I see the good life and I want it, but I’m entirely unsure on how I should go about finding it.



Ohio
September 1, 2008, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , ,

The fact of the matter is that pregnant women make me feel uncomfortable. I hate looking at them, I hate being around them. They’re mammoth, sagging beasts with cartoonishly large breasts and temperament issues. They roar like angry bears, primal and enraged. I’ve knocked three different girls up. It’s ridiculous, really. My semen has enormous purpose. Its efficacy is a towering and significant thing, a chalkish and sticky blend of force majeure and biological process.

I’ve got these three kids, and I hate them. Doesn’t that sound terrible? It is terrible. Kids are nothing but little assholes who love sugar. Mostly, though, I hate their moms. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s don’t have sex with a Puerto Rican. Nothing, literally nothing good can come of it. They’re nasty people. Angry, all the time. It’s a biblical fury, a delicate netting of Spanish and English and spittle. They hit like men. They fuck like water buffalos on methamphetamines. They aren’t afraid to have their brothers slit the throat of your dog if you don’t pay your child support on time. It’s fucking nuts.

Anyway, I’ve two kids with two different Puerto Ricans. I actually had a threesome with them, if you can believe that. I did far too much cocaine that night. Barely, I remember a blur of tanned breasts, polymer fingernails, and me ejaculating gloriously and robustly, everywhere. Two months later, they hunt me down and tell me that I’ve got them both pregnant. Which was horeshit, considering one of those bitches gave me herpes. I don’t and won’t ever believe that one of the kids is mine. He’s too dark, his eyes don’t look like mine. He isn’t mine. Unbelievable, really. Fuck cocaine. It’s for Europeans and fucking idiots.

The other kid I have with a fat white girl named Chris Everett. Sounds ridiculous, right? Like, Olympics Chris Everett. Same name, different person. This girl has the thickest upper arms you’ve ever seen. They’re like baby hippopotamus legs only soft and pocked with lumpy dimples of fat. I originally fell into line with his girl through fate and chance. And by fate and chance, I mean Internet dating. She sent me an e-mail, I sent her an e-mail. We exchanged stats. She lied, I didn’t. Boom. We met at PF Changs and before I knew it, she’s inhaling my penis like a feral hog eating a corncob.

In each case, I lobbied for an abortion. Hard. The Puerto Ricans claimed Catholicism. Chris Everett said abortions were for dumpster blacks. I’m not sure what she meant by that, really. She’s from Kentucky and sees life in austere and uniformed terms of black and white. I tried my best to roll with the punches, but it was tough. Still is tough. Three bastard children in less than 8 months. Goddamnit, you know?

I remember my dad talking to me about sex when I was a kid. He told me, don’t think with your dick, think with your head. Sounded stupid at the time. It still sounds stupid, but I’ll cede it degree of merit. My dad was a fucking asshole and a drunk, though. I saw him throw a haymaker at mom when I was nine. The next morning, I found a pool blood on the linoleum floor. It had dried black and hard and it scared me.

I lost my virginity when I was 14. When I was 13, I duct-taped a banana peel in cylindrical cone and microwaved it. I fucked it, pretending it was a woman. It didn’t feel like a woman. It felt like a banana peel that had been wrapped in duct tape. And microwaved on the popcorn setting for 3 and half minutes. It made me feel pathetic, like an animal.

Anyway, when I was 14, I had sex with a prostitute. I stole 12 dollars from my dad and 10 from my brother and had sex with a black hooker that I would later suspect to be high on crack cocaine. She had a black eye and smelled like menthol cigarettes. I met her in front of the 7-11 and told her I had twenty dollars and some innocence lose. Well, not precisely in those terms. But, it should have been implied.  Prostitutes, in general, play fast and loose with morals. That’s an obvious reality. But a 14 year old? There’s no way this whore isn’t frying in hell as we speak.

When it was done, I felt like a man. I wanted more. She said it would be twenty more dollars. I didn’t have twenty dollars. Nonetheless, I tried to mount. She pushed me down and called a guy named Leroy on the telephone. Leroy was a real sonofabitch. He came into the room, called me a faggot and slapped me across the face. It stung. He told me that I had to pony up the cash. He smacked the palm of his right hands with a balled-up left hand and I said that I either had to pay or that I had to pay. I told him I had had two dollars left over and he slapped me again. He took my two dollars and spit on me.

I was seventeen when I first fell into love. It was with a girl named Trisha. She lived in Wild Meadows trailer park and told me her uncle Ronny raped her once. I’m not sure if I believed it; Trisha was the sort of girl who seemed, well, impervious to rape. Because, of course, if you always want it, you can’t ever not want it. That’s how these things work, I guess. Trisha and me dated for a year before she did too much heroin with brother and ended up in a coma. I don’t talk to her anymore. I used to go visit her in the hospital, you know? I stopped, though. My life moved on while hers became cemented. It’s easy to fall out of love.

I was twenty when my dad died. I was sad but not too sad. Congestive heart failure. My mom died not too long after in a motorcycle crash. The police told me she was riding with Jim Stanton and both of them were drunk and neither of them were wearing helmets. They hit a tree and left a fantastic mess. It tore me apart from the inside out, it really did. We never got long, my mom and I. She just didn’t seem to care that much about me. And, that’s ok. I understand, now that I’m a father. Despite her faults, though, she was my mom. Your mom is your mom and you never really stop loving her.



Wolverine Liberation Army
July 30, 2008, 4:13 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , ,

I recently wrote a short story for Wolverine Liberation Army. It’s called “Mike Barwis and the Great White North: You Damn Dirty Dog” and you can check it out here.

If you don’t follow University of Michigan football, the story’s hero – recently hired strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis – has developed something of a cult following for his hyper active demeanor. His job is making 19 year olds run a bunch of wind sprints and puke all over the place and he seems to revel in it. Also, I think he owns a pack of wolves, has a bodybuilder for a wife, and used to be a cage fighter. I’m not sure what’s real and what’s not.



Rehearsed Apologies in the Afterglow of Colonialism.
July 15, 2008, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , ,

Unreasonably so, David Patterson was in Africa. A peace corps dropout turned drug mule turned sunken-eyed enigma, David hadn’t spoken with the Western Hemisphere in over two years. It was what it was, a nomadic journey into the only place where nomadic journeys were still remarkable. He had grown up in Connecticut, gone to college in Iowa, and become generally disinterested in the idea of conclusion. His exodus had been a quiet, insignificant thing that was shackled by neither maps nor time nor currency. And so, he drifted, lost in the dark. Cape Town to Johannesburg to Maputo to Mombasa, different places that tasted vaguely the same. He knew he’d go back, someday and somehow. Now, though, wasn’t and couldn’t be the time. The idea of house and home was intimidating, overpowering, tyrannical. Throughout his life, he had been scared of many things. But nothing, literally nothing, terrified him more than the thought of acquiescence. Because, to David, the beginning of the end was merely the end.



There Is Only This
July 10, 2008, 1:06 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags:

Today was supposed to be the day that I decided to stop feeling sick. But then I wake up,  tired and apathetic, and I don’t feel like doing much of anything. I get dressed. I try to eat, but I can’t. I’m not hungry, not now. I sit at my desk and look out the window. The clouds sit low and fat, lazily merging world and sky.  I want to get high. I take out the dope and roll it in with some papers. I get halfway through and I say fuck the papers. I have a cherry philly in my desk. I split it open and push the tobacco into a neat pile. I make the paper, I lick onto my fingers and mat the cheap shell against the table. I fill it and roll, tenderly, precariously because I have exactly and only one cherry philly. Sink or swim, drown or don’t. I seal it. I smoke it. Fuck this weed. It’s garbage. It’s ditch yellow and impotent and, somehow, a reflection of me. I can’t think straight. I’m still not hungry. I turn on some music and stare blankly into the day. Jawbreaker, Waits, Mogwai, Strummer. Nothing fits the mood, nothing makes me feel anything. Nothing feels right. But that’s ok. Nothing ever feels right. Has anything ever felt right? No. I forget, for a moment, that I was looking out of my window and when I remember to actually look, I see a plastic bag ghost mulling about in the street, anxiously puffing and ascending skyward only to fall back to the grime and the dirt and the dirty as[halt of the street. There’s a cat picking through a trash can at the end of the street. The grey seeps lower, still. Metallically dull, foggy, thick with dramatic and brooding overtones. My exasperation wells up into an oblong lump in the pit of my stomach. This is life. Today was the day that I said I would stop feeling sick. It’s just another day, though. I don’t want to get better. I don’t want to stop feeling sick. I just want to be able to imagine a time when I can imagine again. I go out onto the porch and have a smoke. Around me, the world moves. It’s 3:30 and the kids are being let out of school across the street. Fucking kids. They live in a murky world of unlimited potentiality. And greed and hate and depression and mental instability. Maybe they know this but maybe they don’t. They’ll figure it out, eventually. We all do. I did. I get into my car and drive. I’m unemployed and uninsured. I don’t know where I am headed or what I’ll do when I get there an even why the fuck I felt compelled to go there in the first place. I don’t care. I should care but I don’t. So I keep driving. I see a lot of people doing a lot of different shit. I hope they’re happy, I hope things are going their way. I see the cornerboys on the corner, doing what they do. I see fast food chains and police stations. I see hospitals and the downtown skyline. I drive along the river for awhile and think. Today was the day I decided to stop feeling sick. It rings hollow. I’m disappointed in myself, disappointed that I woke up and let my resolve simmer into nothing. Today is the day that I decided that I’m alright with feeling sick. I end up back at my house and I’m standing glass-eyed in the driveway. I go inside. I sit at my desk and light a cigarette. It tastes horrible. These goddamn things have always tasted horrible and I have always smoked them. I take out a picture from my bureau drawer and look at it. It is of one specific memory that I used to treasure but I don’t anymore. It’s dark now. I turn on the lamp at the right corner of my desk. It has a comfortable glow. Outside, it starts to rain. I open up my window and listen to the droplets thud and die on the roof, the pavement, the grass. I watch as puddles, highlighted by streaking shafts of petroleum, sparkle in the under the softly municipal glow of the streetlamps above. The rain smells like rain, wet and familiar, old but alive. I sit at my desk and I think about all the places I’ve never seen, all the places I’ll never go. Important mountains, water so blue it looks unreal, Japan in the morning. I realize that I have lived a life of pictures and dreams, glossy and unrealistic. I light another cigarette and watch as it burns to nothing in the ashtray. My clothes smell like smoke, my room smells like smoke. I still haven’t eaten. I don’t want to. Today was the day that wasn’t. And, that’s ok. I think about the inside of old churches and echoing Gregorian chants that exist even when they don’t. I think about the comfort of antiquity. I think about the burden of understanding things and the stability of youth. I think about dying, I think about living. I think about Portugal, a place I’ve never been but have always imagined to be surreal. I think about thinking too much and decide that it’s time to go to bed.