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The Halloween Project 2020 - Story 10 -McNeilus 2924


     

The accident occurred when McNeilus 2924 maneuvered down the line.  Two energetic workers were scrambling around the rear of the truck near the hopper cover with the side shields raised.  They were checking bolts and seams, everything aligned, everything tight. 


        A cable snapped.  A raised hand saved brain damage but offered a different target. The cable caught that raised hand and pulling it as smoothly as a casino dealer flips a straight, pinched it against the side shield.  No surgeon ever performed a more clinical amputation.  The hand, neatly sliced at the wrist, fell into the hopper.


        McNeilus 2924 lurched on the assembly line.  A nearby worker slammed the wall side emergency button hard enough to break two fingers.  Screaming turned into a choral of guttural yells, curses and shouting.  McNeilus 2924 began to vibrate, starting somewhere deep in the hopper.  It jumped the assembly track in seconds and lurched to the left.  Every joined metal piece danced and ran.  Decibels expanded as metal grated on metal.  The single high-pitched screaming of the handless worker rose above all.  On the edge of the concrete runway, amidst the rushing of first aide staff, nearby workers and managers, McNeilus shivered, clenched and quieted.


        "So we have to trash this rig, right?" a vice-president offered to the small group of mid-level managers.  Some heads nodded, some remained still and one raised her hand.


        "I don't think so," bravado smoothing her voice, "this is a classic supplier failure.  We sue them.  For their product and our worker.  If we trash the rig, it might be seen as our failure."


        McNeilus 2924 served 12 years in the line of garbage duty in Boise, Idaho Department of Public Works.  8000 lift capacity, total 40 cubic meters containment.  It did its job.  Every day, all weather, not a broken spring or snapped joint.  Now it'd been sold to the township of Moscow, Idaho, 300 miles north of Boise, but a town big enough to need an older model truck.


        Turning on to Savannah Lane the truck rolled smoothly.  Two experienced men handled the job with fluid motion.  Bob drove, Mel dragged the cans to the front of the truck and operated the front loader.  Up and over, cans emptied their contents.  The hopper accepted them, compactor crushed them.


        Mel pulled two extremely heavy cans to the front.  Up and over, down into the hopper.  McNeilus 2924 began to resonate with a low throb.  Bob noticed immediately as the steering wheel shivered in his grip.  Headlights began to flash, at first rhythmically, then in uneven, sporadic bursts.  Mel backed up muttering, "What the...?"  The horn peeled, arcing into new decibel levels.  Vibrations grew as the truck seemed to lurch into spasms.  Then it shut down; engine, front loader, lights, horn, everything.


        "Shit, you know what this means.  We got to call Public Works and get another truck over here.  Crank it open and transfer all this garbage in the hopper to the other truck.  Let's call the police as well, we'll be blocking traffic for some time."


        Nodding his head, Mel simply acknowledged with, "Shit."


        It was a little over an hour later and they were just starting to transfer crushed and compacted bags. Another garbage truck backed up to McNeilus 2924 and two cops were directing traffic.  Bob said, "Mel, give me a hand with this one.  One of the last ones you put in.  It's a little heavy."


        As they lifted it toward the end of the truck the bag caught on a back end control lever.  The bag ripped a wide gash.


        Out fell a severed hand and one foot, an arm chopped from wrist to elbow, another piece from elbow to shoulder.  The men dropped the bag, Mel turned and threw up, Bob groaned.  Both policemen looked down to the body parts on the pavement.  Then all four turned to look at the man standing near the garage in his driveway.