As we found out Thursday morning, my "debt to society" came to $200 in American money. Can't figure out how to calculate my karmic debt to the Universe after what happened later that evening.
A mouse has been living in my house. In my pantry. to be more specific. After rejecting the idea of poison and spring traps, live traps were set in the pantry, laundry room, and kitchen. (I'm using the passive voice purposely here. I was not the one who set the traps and THAT is another story, entirely.)
So, when I got back from my day in court, I checked the traps. The doors on two of the traps were down, indicating the presence of mice. I picked those traps up and started outside with them, thinking mice didn't weigh anything at all. I opened the first little door, found NOTHING, and thought that meant there was nothing in the other trap, either, as they seemed to weigh exactly the same thing. Back inside, I opened the little door to reset the trap and OUT SPRANG A MOUSE!!!!
Little Mickey darted across the floor and took refuge behind a stack of old suitcases under a table in the front hall. When I stopped screaming enough to move the suitcases, he darted out into the foyer and to the basement stairs. My little dog, Cassie, got into the act, pouncing on the mouse and snapping at its head. I grabbed her, pulled her off the mouse, and set her behind me on the stairs. The mouse scurried down a few more stairs, Cassie escaped me and pounced on her again, and I screamed some more. We repeated this little act several more times before Mickey made it to the floor at the bottom of the steps. By this point, he was dazed but not dead. In fact, every minute or so, he tried to stand and collapsed in tremors.
To put it lightly, I was near hysteria and at a total loss about what to do. My original goal had been to release him unharmed, but boy howdy, that didn't happen. Now that he was hurt, my only choice seemed to be to put him out of his misery quickly; the question was HOW? Some of you have seen the stone Buddha head on my altar. I seriously thought about putting him in a ziplock bag and dropping the head on him. Surely a mouse killed by a stone Buddha would go straight to being a cow in India, don't you think? In my hysteria, I thought so, but didn't want to be disrespectful to Buddha or the stone, and so rejected the idea. I also considered flushing him, but that seemed really awful, too.
To make matters slightly more complicated, I remembered one of the most chaotic evenings of my newly-divorced life when our dog, Biscuit, managed to get our hamster, Snickers, out of the rolly-ball the kids had put him into. After lots of shrieking by the four 6-year-old girls spending the night with my daughter, we found Snickers behind the dining room drapes, stiff as a board. The whole story is hilarious—filled with flying grape juice, a scampering dog, and stampeding children—but the upshot is that we put Snickers in a shoebox for burial at a later date. (Can't break ground in Minnesota in January, not even for a hamster-sized grave.) The next morning, we found Snickers sitting up, ready to take nourishment.
Remembering that, hope for Mickey set in. Maybe he's just catatonic from fear like Snickers. Holding firmly to that hope and a broom, I brushed him into a bucket and gently set him out in the lawn, crying so hard I couldn't breathe. When light broke in the morning, I checked on him.
Dead as a little mousey doornail.
So now, I've not only killed a sentient creature, I may have let it die in agony. By the time I put him outside, he hadn't even twitched for more than 10 minutes, and I hope he was already dead but don't know for sure. Now THERE's a karmic debt for you.
Don't know what the bill for that will be, but I'm quite sure paying it won't involve my check book or my bank balance.