Nick looked at the cows munching on Burt’s parents’ lawn. “You know,” he said, “I’ve heard that rock salt will take care of that.”

“How’s that?” Burt queried.

“Well, I’ve heard that if you take the pellets out of a shotgun shell, and load it with rock salt, you can blast a critter with it, and it gives them something to remember without causing any permanent damage.”

Burt nodded. “Come to think of it, I’ve heard that too.”

Burt and Nick were in their mid teens, not too far past that age when they had believed in snipe hunting and cow tipping. They still believed most of what they were told, as long as it was by other teens and not by adults.

Now, it wasn’t that the neighbor’s cows caused too many problems. They didn’t get out that often, and it only took minutes to chase them back in. Besides, there was a fence around the garden, which protected it from the bovine pests. Burt didn’t even mind the fact that they munched his mom’s tulips once in a while. There were times he even appreciated their automatic grass-pruning tendencies when their escape covered for his lack of ambition for mowing the lawn.

What he did hate was the fact that they always liked to show their gratitude for their free meal by leaving little fertilizer presents that he would accidentally step in when he ran barefoot through the grass. It seemed that the job of removing the plant supplement and distributing it to a more appropriate place always fell to him. Therefore, he felt justified in finding some means by which he could deter the cows’ desire for escape.

Nick and Burt made their way to the shop with the double-barrel twelve gauge, two shells, and a brick of rock salt, which they had broken off of the cows’ salt lick. While Nick opened the shells and removed the pellets, Burt pounded the salt into manageable, BB-size pieces. Then each boy took a shell and packed it tight with the granules.

Finally, they were ready to test the theory. Burt loaded the shotgun, and they slid out of the shop and headed toward the grazing herd. Pretending they were in combat, the two boys stealthily snuck up on the unsuspecting herbivores. Burt sized up the situation, pulled the hammer back, and carefully drew a bead on the lead cow.

He pulled the trigger. The salt pellets scattered in a furious hail storm upon the herd, causing instant pain and panic. The bewildered cows stampeded. They tore around the house, smashing one of the family’s cars in the process. The cows reached the garden fence and leveled it. The garden fared a similar fate.

Burt, panicked at the thought of his parents finding the car and the garden in their new condition, decided he better head them off. He rushed around the house only to find himself in the path of a hundred tons of pounding ground round with his name written all over their hooves. It was then that he remembered he still had one shell left. In that moment of excitement, and self protection, instead of scrambling for safety as common sense would dictate, he fired on them again.

Instead of turning toward their pasture, they turned back toward the house. As they thundered around the house again, one cows back end was knocked into a basement window well. In her zeal to escape she started kicking, and kicked out the window and made an udder disaster. The more she kicked the farther through the window she slid until she fell right into the basement.

Immediately came the sound of crashing furniture, a falling stereo, and the smashing of a television. As the sound of carnage continued from the basement, a more ominous sound could be heard – the slam of a car door. Burt ran around the house, arriving in time to see his mother stepping from the family van, groceries in hand, just as the cows rounded the house from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Burt’s mother threw the groceries in the air and dove through the open van window as the cows smashed alongside. As the cows roared down the road toward home, Burt saw his mother, wide eyed, cautiously peek over the rim of the van door. While the rampage from the basement continued, Nick appeared at Burt’s side. They both looked toward Burt’s mother as she stepped from the van, forcefully slammed the door shut, and with a scowl marched determinedly in their direction. Bert knew trying to hide the telltale shotgun behind him was futile.

“Well,” Nick said, “I guess now we know. Best of luck.” With that he bolted for home, leaving Bert alone to find out from his mother what really happens to someone when they fire rock salt at cows.

 (Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at da***@da*********.com; or visit his website)