They eventually lost their father to alcoholism. That had been the toughest summer of their young lives, for it was then that they learned just how far he had sunk in his depression. Piles of bills were stashed away beneath his mattress or unpaid and forgotten in the dust filled shadows. Collections Services came calling at all hours of the day, all in search of the same thing; coin that neither of the brothers possessed.
Every day became a struggle to not only maintain their meager lifestyle, but in keeping food in their bellies as well. For every dollar they made, they paid two more toward the debts they had inherited and it wasn’t long before their father’s folly caught up to them.
One by one, their customers began moving away from the Morelli Plumbing business and towards more commercially known ones. Despite their knowledge and experience, there wasn’t very much they could do to convince anyone to hire the sons of Rocco Morelli, a man who rarely finished a repair in a timely manner and who was suspected of stealing from his clients.
The Morelli name had become a curse in most homes and only a small handful of people still stood behind them. These were the people whom they had helped the most over the years. The families they had moved from one home to another and those who knew the struggles they’d had in their lives. And in some cases, they were the friends they grew up with, or the families of these friends after the former had moved on.
Eventually, their past caught up with them and they lost their apartment. There were too many tools for them to store in their van, and with heavy hearts they sold whatever they could do without and still continue peddle their trade. The rest was donated to the plumbing supplier whom they had given all of their business.
They washed their clothes a a local laundromat, where they could also freshen up in the restroom as the clothes were being cleaned and they ate as often as their funds allowed, which was at least once a day. It was a poor way to live and they both knew that time was against them. If they didn’t find something better, and soon, they were going to have to begin selling the rest of their tools and take minimum wage jobs in order to survive.
Without a physical address, they had forwarded their mail to a P.O. box, where the bills continued to pour in. Neither could believe the amount of trouble their father could create for them, even beyond the grave! There were bills for unpaid tabs at various bars and gentlemen’s clubs. On top of the bills they owed for their apartment, there were also bills for jobs that had been improperly finished, including one for a septic tank repair that was almost five figures!
They were steadily losing ground, but what they didn’t know was that sometimes you have to reach rock bottom before things begin to turn around. Of all the things that their father had taught them over the years, optimism wasn’t one of them. His secret resentment of the boys didn’t have room for the brighter things in life, things which he knew very little about from the beginning.
Ever the optimists, they had a long way to go before they lost the one thing they had left. Hope.