The Morelli Bros. (Prologue, iii.)

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.

 

Advertisements

The Morelli Bros. (Prologue, ii.)

When his sons were ten, just a few years before he became entirely dependent upon the bottle, the Morelli family set sail for America.  Rocco had turned into a miserable excuse for a man, unwashed and unkempt, but he still worked just as hard as he had before his sons were born.

They made a small home for themselves on the outskirts of Brooklyn in an apartment that was only big enough to be comfortable for one person, while two would have been a crowd.  To top it off, Rocco had no where else to store his tools.

The boys never complained.  They never cried, and despite the fact that there was hardly ever any room left for them to play or sleep, they always found a way to make the best out of their situation.

Mario, the oldest of the two, had the strongest interest in his father’s trade.  Whenever Rocco was still sober, he constantly grilled him for information about the various tools and equipment that was lying about.  When Rocco was too drunk to talk, he studied from the various texts and manuals he found lying around. His younger brother Luigi was just as bright as he, but his talents lie more with how he interacted with people.  Though he was a gangling youth, taller and often clumsier than his brother, he had a knack for reading people.  This talent had gotten them out of all kinds of trouble growing up.

The boys were very athletic.  They enjoyed playing outside from morning until evening.  Running, jumping, climbing, nothing was off limits to them.  They soon became legends among their friends.  Where Mario was the stronger of the two, his brother was the quicker.  Where one was known for his iron fist, the other was recognized for his ability to outrun and jump everyone else.

As they grew older, the boys began to pick up the slack that their father left behind. They did it without complaint.  They did it unconditionally, because despite his faults he was directly responsible for their very existence.  Even though he only ever grunted in response to their stories, they still loved the man whose passion was quickly becoming their own.

Much like the man before them, they began taking odd jobs here and there. If they weren’t fixing pipes that Rocco hadn’t properly set, they worked as a two man moving crew.  They prided themselves in the jobs they did, though ‘moving’ was only a vague reference for what they actually did.  While they sometimes helped the many other immigrants that have come and gone over the years, they were often called upon to help move things around by elderly neighbors who couldn’t do so for themselves.

Everyone thought kindly of two young brothers and often paid them more than for what they were asking and being the thrifty boys that they were, they used that extra money to buy clothes, food for the apartment and the various tools and parts that were needed for their father’s business.  They knew where their father kept his earnings and when the landlord came each month, they took out just enough to cover the rent and the utilities.

It wasn’t an easy childhood for the Morelli brothers.  Their days were more filled with work as they grew older.  While their friends enjoyed going to school and playing out in the streets until the darkest hours of night, they quickly became masters of their trade. By the time their peers were graduating, they had taken all of their father’s clients.  With their meager savings, they had purchased a used utility van to store their tools and spare parts for easy access.  It wasn’t much, but it made things so much easier than hauling their equipment in the basket on their shared bike.

The Morelli Bros. (Prologue, i.)

Deep in the heart of Manhattan, there were two young brothers struggling to keep their family business afloat.  Every day was a constant battle and if they were lucky, they were able to hold onto the few remaining customers that had been loyal to them since their father first strapped on his leather workmen’s belt.

Their father had been a man’s man.  Born in his homeland of Italy, Rocco Morelli spent his life doing the only thing he knew how.  The better part of his life had been spent working various odd jobs in order to save up enough money so that he may chase his dreams and thrive.  He wanted to marry his sweetheart and give her the family she always wanted in a country where any and everything was possible.

It was a big dream, a HUGE dream, but he’d had the strength to pursue it.  Though squat compared to his countrymen, he was very strong and this allowed him to take many types of employment that most would shy away from.  He carried stones from a nearby quarry while renovating homes.  One summer saw him working as bouncer for a local entertainment business, while another found him in a junkyard sorting through scrap metals worth salvaging.

His dreams would only grow on the foundation of his marriage and it wasn’t long before he discovered exactly where he was meant to be.  Time, as it always tends to do, brought some exciting changes to their village.  And, as tourism continued to expand deeper into the heart of his homeland, it brought with it the entrepreneurs seeking to peddle their own brand of change.

By this time, he was in his mid-thirties and his wife was carrying their first child.  As the westerners slowly dug into Italian soil, so would it would come to be that his fallback jobs begin to vanish.  Desperate, he took the only option left and took work for a Plumbing company that sought to revolutionize the way people lived.

Though it was a dirty business, he had a great aptitude in the work before him and it wasn’t long before he excelled past every man he worked with.

The months rained down until a year had passed.  He saw the birth of not just one son, but twins!  He also watched helplessly as his beloved slipped away while giving birth to their second.

By this time, he’d saved enough money to take his family across the ocean and start a new life.  There was enough in his savings to build their home and open a small Plumbing business of his own; they had only been waiting for the pregnancy to pass before traveling.

His heart, broken after the passing of his wife, had very little love left to give and it was with sadness that he looked upon the two little lives she had left him.  For the first few years, he tried to be the father they needed while still working for the Plumbing business.  But when the pipes were laid and the toilets installed, the company moved on, leaving him exactly where he was before they arrived.  Of course, they had offered him a position if he were to relocate with them, but he simply couldn’t do this with the responsibility of his two boys.

They say that time has a way of healing the broken heart, but what they didn’t account for was the man who had poured his heart into everything he had before the break. Once a man who openly smiled and spoke to everyone he met, Rocco withdrew deep into himself until his brooding features often caused others to shy away.  Though he provided for his children, he didn’t have the love needed to give to them.  So cold had his heart become that when he finally got around to signing their birth certificates, he didn’t bother to add their last name.

As illogical as it was, he had begun to blame them for her death.  These two small children who had been born ten minutes apart, one short and chubby, the other long and skinny, who could only smile when he looked upon them.  He blamed them, even though they coo’d in his presence and never cried unless they were hungry or needed changed.

It was just as well that they never fussed and better yet that their bond was strong enough that they could comfort the other while he was around, because in his melancholic state, he turned to the bottle in hopes that it would ease his pain.

Rocco was a man of action.  His hands had built many wonders over the years, all of which were the pride of the owners he had worked for.  The renovations were a thing of beauty, built with the same hope that fueled his dreams.  In his brief stint as a bouncer, he’d imparted much knowledge upon several young hopefuls, all of whom to this day had become very successful in settling the riffraff.  And there were toilets in every home of his village.

Yet, for all his knowledge of labor, he hadn’t the insight to be the best father these two young boys needed.  Rather than losing this dark cloud to the warmth their hearts radiated, he turned to a solution that was only temporary at best and would ultimately change him into someone that his wife would never have looked at twice.