They went from door to door, visiting customers who had previously done business with their family, and they were met with looks of sympathy and a slow shake of the head.
“I’m sorry, Mario, but given what your father has put us through, we just have to go with these other guys.”
“I wish I could, but I just don’t know if I can trust you boys.”
“No, and if I ever see one of you Morellis on our property again, I’ll call the cops!”
It brought a great sadness upon the boy’s hearts knowing that the burden of their father had passed down to them. More and more of their customers were turning to their competitors because of his actions, and were now passing their judgement of him down to the hardworking duo.
As the day dragged on, they found it increasingly difficult to find their smiles before knocking on each new door.
“What are we going to do, brother,” asked the younger of the two.
“We have to show them that we aren’t like that bastard of a man. We have to prove that we can be trusted, that it’s better to do business with a face you know, than with an app, or a phone service,” Mario answered passionately.
“And how do you-a say we do that,” Luigi answered with a sharp edge to his voice.
He didn’t have an immediate answer for his brother, nor would he find one in the near future. He only knew that the best way to prove his worth was to get in and do the work. If they couldn’t get over the threshold, how was he going to be able to ever do that?
He shook his head sadly and lowered his faced into his hands where he would hide his shame for the next several minutes. When he next spoke, it his voice was thick with emotion.
“Offer them our next service for free,” he dared softly utter.
Luigi flew up from his seat as he attempted stand over his brother in anger, only to slam his head on the ceiling of the van. The breath whooshed from his lungs, stolen by the surprise of the situation as he tumbled askew to his seat.
For the first time in hours, Mario first smiled, and then laughed at what had happened to his younger, clumsier sibling. It was a brief reprieve, for as soon as the other had recovered, the two argued in earnest about his latest proposition.
“We cannot give away our business,” the younger shot back. “We have-a precious few supplies as it is!”
“We’ve a-gotta do something,” Mario retorted. “If we don’t a-show them our intentions, we’re done for good!”
“Maybe it’s-a for the best,” Luigi fired in return.
The afternoon waned as their Italian blood fueled each side of the argument and by the time they found themselves wore out enough to settle on a compromise, the shadows had begun to stretch back toward the direction from which the sun had begun its journey.
They were no closer to what they had set out to do at the beginning of the day, and neither noticed that the needle on the fuel gauge had begun to dip below the ‘E’.