Five men were killed early this morning by a prematurely-exploded blast. Words flew fast in the village, and before long there was a crowd gathered near the scene of the accident. However, not one of them could come very near because the rocks and earth on the mountain side still rolled every now and then. We know were working in the mines did not yet know that there had been an accident. We only came to know of it when we are having our mess. Possibly it was either Demetrio’s gang or Pito’s gang that had perished, but as yet we could not be certain. After the mess we fell to work again, but many of those who were personally acquainted with men of Demetrio’s or Pito’s gang could not work very well. I myself was a great friend of Demetrio, and I could not keep my thoughts away from him. When my shift came, I crawled out of the hole and found that several of my friends had already volunteered to dig out the bodies. As soon as we entered the village, we were met by a number of excited women and children. They told us that only one of Demetrio’s men had escaped death, and even he was in a very serious condition.
He had been taken to the hospital….So it was really true that Demetrio had died. We passed by the hut where we boarded, and I felt a pang. I could only stare vacantly at the old woman who was looking out of the window. She was our occasional washer woman, and now she had brought a clean suit to the hut so that by the time Demetrio’s body was found we could easily change his clothes. My companions saw her also, but not one of us broke the silence. Instead we hurried to the shop where the company kept it tools, and asked for implements. There were already a number of men excavating the mountain side, and they were working with furious haste. But as there was still a know what to do, for she just stood there precariously, trembling and widly staring around. She was very pale and her eyes had the vacancy of an idiot’s look. Her dress had been ripped in places, and her hair hung in disorder. For a time, she seemed to communicate the same enervation to us, and we stood silent and watchful, as if waiting for her first move. Her sobs were growing weaker and weaker. Finally, they were only like distracted sighs. But after her eyes came to rest on us, standing there silently watching her, she broke into a loud fit of weeping.
She suddenly knelt down on the ground, covered her face with her hands, and cried louder. Some of the men approached her and tried to calm her, but when comforting hands were laid on her shoulders, she flung them away and shouted that she be left alone. For a time we did not know what to do with her. Later on, however, her parents came and cajoled her io going back to town. She walked between her parents, crying like a child. By nightfall we had found only two bodies. One was that of Busio. The other was so considerably disfigured that it was not recognizable as yet. We put the bodies on makeshift stretchers and carried them to the village. A representative from the company met us in the village and took care of the bodies. With him was an embalmer from the funeraria in town who began to embalm the bodies so that they would last until the company received word from the families of the dead men as to what was to be done with the bodies. A car from the funeraria came to the village and carried the dead to town. It is the policy of the company to indemnify the family of a worker who meets with an accident while working for the company.
The company pays thirty pesos to the family that is willing to let the company bury the dead. But if the family wants to have the body, the company shoulders the transportation of the remains to the family, but does not feel obliged to pay any more money. Usually, however, it sends five or ten pesos as a sort of consolation to the bereaved family. We watched the car speed away, and when we could not see anymore, we talked about the accident. I moved from one group to another, unable to make up my mind to go home. And even though they talked mostly about the accident and I was beginning to think that I could not stand it any longer, yet I could not go anywhere else for I did not want to be alone and be left to my own thoughts. Perhaps it was just my imagination, but I seemed to sense that the atmosphere in the village had become ominous and subtly suggestive of death.
The village was usually quiet, as if these workers who labored in constant danger had been brought too close to the reality of their danger. The women were so strangely subdued. I hastened away from them and went to the hut where I boarded. I thought I could sleep easily after such a fatiguing day, but I was mistaken. After I had put out the light, the darkness oppressed me and I seemed to hear the breathing of Demetrio beside me. I hastily relighted the kerosene lamp, but even the light could not dispel my nervousness, so I slipped down from the house and went to an open-all-night restaurant. There were many people there and they talked loudly. I was glad when at last the faint glimmer of dawn broke on the horizon. Outside the restaurant, the streets were already thronged with men going to the mines. The men who had been in the establishment also came out, some going home to sleep and others going to work. I ate my breakfast, and when I went out I fell in with a bunch that was going to dig out the dead. By the middle of the afternoon, we had extracted the last body.
This with two others we had previously found were placed in the waiting car sent by the funeraria and taken to town. I had seen Demetrio’s taken from under a huge boulder, and in some parts it looked as if it had been ground to a pulp. Even before the stone had crushed him, he had already killed by the blast. One of his arms had been torn away and his face has been so mutilated that instead of a face, he had blackened, raw mash of flesh. The sight of him greatly unnerved me and some of the men who dug with us turned away.
Pepe, who had been at a distance from the others of Demetrio’s men when the accident occurred, was not so horribly mangled, but he was a limp as if all the bones in his body had melted…. After the car had left, we slowly wended our way back to the village and returned the implements we had borrowed. In answer to the telegrams sent out the company after the accident, two of the families replied that they would let the company bury their dead. One of the men who died did not have any family and nobody seemed to know where he came from either. Demetrio’s wife replied that she would have his body, and Pepe’s remains were taken by his wife.
Turns out Sadly for the characters often with most of them dying.
Old woman-an occasional washer woman