The Death of Francisco Flores

from the forthcoming masterpiece Slime Line
It was a beautiful late summer day. Salmon season was ending and the seiners were coming into the harbor after two months of fishing on the Sound. The Kaylor T had made its last contracted trip and the big tender was docked beside a seiner that was having its nets and a small skiff craned up onto the dock. The captain of the Kaylor T had gone to the Fisherman's Lounge to wait his turn at the crane. He wanted a huge section of steel housing removed from the deck and put into storage at the fishery until next season.

The Plant Manager told Francisco Flores to get the old mobile crane truck. The captain of the Kaylor T was an old friend. There was no reason to call him down just to move the ship to the dock-mounted crane.

Francisco Flores drove the old mobile crane to the edge of the dock above the Kaylor T and secured the stabilizer legs. He extended the boom out and began lowering the hook. It was low tide and the boat far below the dock in the water, and Francisco Flores let out a lot of cable to get the hook down to One-Eyed Eddie. It was a huge section of metal housing that covered half the deck. Nobody had any idea what it weighed. Eddie secured the big four-ways sling to each of the corners and he clasped the hook to it. "Winch up! Winch up!" Eddie yelled, signaling with his index finger.
Francisco Flores began to slowly bring in cable, lifting the massive section of ship housing up off the Kaylor T. He had lifted it halfway up to the dock when they first heard it. It started as a wail, just audible over the engine of the boom truck. The wailing grew louder and louder, and then it was an ear piercing screeching. The Dock Lead started yelling at Francisco Flores to put it down, put it down! The front stabilizing legs on the boom truck were bending, the steel shrieking, and as Francisco Flores started to lower the load, the legs snapped, pitching the boom truck forward, skidding across the pavement and crashing into the low wooden barrier at the dock edge, and ejecting Francisco Flores from the cockpit of the crane truck out over the edge of the dock.
His head hit two rungs on the dock ladder before he landed on his back on the deck of the Kaylor T. Francisco Flores had fallen more than 30 feet. His hard hat lay beside him, cracked in half. One-eyed Eddie was the first to him. The left side of Francisco Flores' head was cleaved open and there were bits of brain in his hair. He lay upon the steel cover of a fish hold, blood pooling under his head. His eyes were open and he seemed to respond as Eddie knelt beside him, talking to him.
Then someone pulled Eddie away and the lady from human resources kneeled down and started pumping his chest. Blood sputtered from Francisco Flores' mouth. Eddie yelled at her to stop, that his back could be broken and that the CPR could kill him. But she continued pumping at his chest, and listening for breathing, until finally Francisco Flores groaned and the last air went out of him and there was nothing more to be done.
On the dock the Plant Manager had called over two forklift drivers and was having them pick up and move the damaged mobile crane truck. He wanted it moved off the dock and taken across the street and put inside the welding shop. He wanted it moved as quickly as possible.
The forklift drivers had just gotten the mobile crane truck off the dock when an ambulance and two police cruisers arrived. The EMS team declared Francisco Flores dead on the deck of the boat. There was nothing to be done for him. The police officers were furious with the Plant Manager for moving the mobile crane and disturbing the accident scene and told him he was likely to be charged with evidence tampering.
The company lawyer was immediately dispatched to a tiny pueblo in Chihuahua, Mexico to deliver the bad news to the wife of Francisco Flores and his four children, as well as a check for $25,000, if only Señora Flores would sign three documents, inconveniently written in English, a language she could neither speak nor read. The fishery pledged to put up half the money for the funeral and the lady from human resources, who had unsuccessfully performed CPR on Francisco Flores, collected the remainder in worker donations.
The Plant Manager called a meeting on the dock and announced that in memory of Francisco Flores the mobile crane truck would no longer be used. The Plant Manager explained that Francisco Flores had made a grave error in attempting to lift a load clearly in excess of the capacity of the mobile crane. It never should have been attempted. The lady from human resources added that Francisco Flores had been negligent in filling out the daily safety checklist and signing his name to it, as all equipment operators are required.
Today, in the employee break room, there hangs on the far wall in the corner and only partly obscured by the Pepsi machine, a framed photograph of Francisco Flores standing on the dock and smiling broadly, and beneath it the caption "We Will Always Remember, 1970-2012".

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