How (Not) To Get Away With Murder
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been binge-watching ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ (#htgawm) on Netflix.
I’ve stayed up late.
Snuck in an episode in the middle of the day here and there.
I can’t get enough of all of the drama, coverups and (lets be honest) 6-pack abs.
It seems fitting that #tuesdaystale is all about the first time I committed murder at the tender age of sixteen*.
But in order to set the scene, we need to go back a little further.
My memory is hazy when it comes to details like age and grade, but let’s say I was perhaps about 10 years old*.
As a child, I was always a die-hard animal lover.
Not that it’s easy to recognize anymore — especially if you’ve ever heard me screaming my lungs out at our overgrown trio of canines.
Anyway, as a child I would spend hours catching frogs, finding stray dogs and cats, or waiting patiently for the skittish pony in the field near us to come close enough for me to pet his soft nose.
So, you can understand my horror when I stumbled upon my trio of brothers whooping and hollering in the shed one day, throwing darts at a plastic bag hanging from the dartboard.
Someone had caught a mouse, and they were playing darts with its’ life.
Of course, I went screaming into the house, and ‘tattled’ on my brothers.
They gave me the stink-eye for weeks.
But I felt righteous and saintly — no stink-eye would overcome the knowledge that I had saved a little life that day.
Fast forward to several years later, and we are now living in a different house. And while quaint and rustic looking, the ‘new’ place was a more than hundred year old carriage house that used to be attached to stables.
Made of stone.
And filled with mice.
Lots and lots of mice.
So, there was little to be done but set traps for the germ-infested rodents (my age had brought about a new maturity, and an understanding of how they transmit disease — ew!).
The worst part, of course, was that someone had to empty the traps daily.
My head and heart were in constant conflict over this whole ordeal, but being the common-sense person I am, I managed to put it in the ‘something that just has to be done’ file.
One day, I opened the front door after walking home from school, plonked my 2,000lb schoolbag on the floor and was just about to plonk myself down for a much-deserved break, when I heard it.
Not sure what ‘it’ was, I followed the sounds.
A little scraping.
A tiny thud.
It was definitely coming from beside the refrigerator.
I turned on the light, bracing myself for what I was about to see.
Sure enough, there was a tiny little — distinctly UNdead — mouse caught in a trap.
“Oh God” I thought. “What do I do now?”
I gingerly picked up the trap, and had a bit of a closer look.
The grotesque way the body was smooshed, and the fact that not all its legs were moving told me that its’ back was likely broken. But it was not dead.
In my mind, I ran through the options available for dealing with this disastrous situation.
Option A: Drop it into the garbage can still in the trap.
Not. A. Chance. I pictured myself hearing little scraping sounds coming from the garbage until… well, until it ‘died’. And not only had I not helped, but I had prolonged the little creatures suffering by chucking it into a putrid stinky garbage can where it might die from suffocation or worse.
Nope. Definitely going to hell for option A.
Option B: Drop something heavy on it.
Hell to the no.
It might be quick, but then there is the ‘clean up’ of guts and glory, and washing off the murder weapon that would need to happen. I couldn’t see this happening. At all.
Option C: Kill it quickly but humanely.
Uhm, gulp. Not exactly sure what I would do, but decided it was by far the best option.
It sounded good in my head at least.
So, I pick up the trap with the flailing mouse attached and walk outside, looking for options to ‘kill quickly and humanely with minimal mess.’
There was a stone archway nearby, and if I chucked the mousetrap against the stone, surely the mouse would die quickly, humanely, with minimal clean-up?
I can still remember needing to brace myself.
Holding my breath and turning my head away, I threw the trap as hard as I could against the stone wall.
Once I heard the clatter of contact, I turned my head and walked soberly towards the trap, sure in my choice and ready to dispose of the body.
Except the mouse was still moving.
And now it was looking at me with its little beady eyes.
Asking me how I could be such a monster?
I am such a bad, bad, BAD person.
I looked at the mouse closely (trying to avoid eye contact), and my assessment was the same — back likely broken, chances of survival slim to none if I released it from the trap.
Ok, nothing to be done. One more throw should do it, right?
At this stage, I’m close to hyperventilating.
I silently beg the mouse for forgiveness before I chuck it against the wall — harder this time.
It’s still alive.
I’m still going to hell.
Wonder-Mouse is still going.
Seemingly a little worse for wear at this point, but definitely not dead.
<Could I care for a paraplegic mouse until it died of natural causes, I wondered>
Sweet. Loving. Jesus.
I’m definitely going to Hell.
Honestly, I don’t remember how many times I ended up having to chuck that little mouse against the wall in order to achieve death (I may have blocked that memory out due to trauma), but I live with the fact that its death was not easy, quick or likely even painless.
The dart-board incident came to mind then as it does now. And the realization that death-by-dart may indeed have been better (or at least quicker).
Truly, a strange full-circle moment.
Nowadays, I can see the humor in this story — I mean, tears rolling down my eyes laughing at the innocence and sadness and hilarity all smooshed into one.
And I can acknowledge that it was literally traumatizing for me at the time, too.
But I trust the fact that no matter how funny or crazy or traumatizing, I really did make the best decision I could with the options and information I had available to me at the time.
So while I may have some guilt, I have no regrets.
A recipe for decision-making that I use to this day.
As always, thank you for reading todays #tuesdaystale. This story was originally posted on Facebook.