The Morelli Bros. (Chapter 1, Part I)

Lightning split the sky apart with the precision of a skilled surgeon, illuminating the surrounding area for only a fraction of a second before vanishing as fast it had come.  Seconds later the silence was shattered by the force of the molecules returning to the place they were so suddenly removed from.  Windows rattled as the thunder rolled on, though not many noticed it at this late hour.

Even this deep in the Bronx, most of it’s residents were fast asleep, while those remaining souls who weren’t sought out what protective cover they could find. In most cases, the eyes that looked out from the shadows were cold and apathetic. They belonged to those poor souls who had lost everything, that’d had nothing for years and had given up all hope.

They were the hungry ones.  They wanted what they didn’t have, but had nothing to offer in return.  They were the forgotten.  They had lost their homes, their families and friends, and have been out of the system for more years than they were ever in it.  They were the hated.  They were looked down upon because of their social status.  People were afraid to look in their direction twice, and only at a glance if they must.

They weren’t many, but they were more than most cared to admit to knowing about. The city refused to acknowledge they were there, instead focusing on more important things such as building parks for the children, or recognizing public officials for all the hard work they’ve done for the city.  And, for the most part, everyone bought into the propaganda.

The media directly influenced the public opinion by providing it only with stories that would create positive feelings.  Images of the city’s darker side were purposely edited to further the illusion being created and life continued as it had for as long as any could remember.

Awake and ever watchful, however, were two sets of eyes peering out from the safety of their red and green B-300 Dodge van.  Though the sun would not be coming up for another two hours, there was much to be done if they were going to tackle the day head on.

“It’s-a gonna be a wet one day, eh Mario,” the younger of the two asked.

“Yeah,” the elder answered somberly.

His mood was dark this morning. He had been looking through their savings, a meager pittance of thirty dollars, and was facing a rather difficult decision; they could either put the money into their gas tank and go without food today, or they could have a good breakfast and risk not being able to make their rounds.

“Did you remember to call the uniform supplier,” he asked his younger brother.

The other nodded as a smile lifted his rather bushy mustache.

“They should be ready by lunch,” he gushed.

“That’s-a good Luigi,” he replied.  “Maybe our luck will turn around?”

It was only speculation, but there was much riding on the decision to invest in these uniforms.  They had given up over two weeks of the hard earned cash in order to not only buy matching garments, but to have a sign made for their van as well.  If this didn’t work out for them, they faced another decision that neither one of them wanted to make.  They would have to give up their trade.

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