Patrick and Ada Wexlis lived beyond my back fence down under the old rail bridge.
As kids, we had played in and under the bridge, but time had treated the remaining timbers poorly. It was a shadow of its former self, neglected and left to rot.
To Patrick and Ada though, and their two small children, it was an ideal place to camp.
From my back fence, I could see the top of their tent, pitched beside the tiny stream that fed its waters into the creek which eventually poured its contents into the river below the town itself.
I came to know the Wexlis’ as they would often pass by, Patrick asking if he could have the odd lemon or orange from the trees that produced prolific amounts of fruit the result of my own neglect.
Patrick had once been someone important in the bank, but an accounting error had seen him lose his job and all he owned.
He took to the streets and travelled wherever he could find work, and in time they found themselves under the bridge beyond my back fence.
They didn’t seem to mind the life they had.
“We’ve been driven to it,” said Patrick
“We’re proud people us Wexlis’,” added Ada.
That was how it was, and they were determined to do the best they could for themselves and their children.
Being so young, the children didn’t seem to mind the life their parents subjected them to. As long as their mum was about, they were happy and how many kids get to play under a bridge, in a creek gathering the tiny mud guddgets and setting up their own fish tank.
A couple of times the council would come around and threaten them with action if they didn’t move on or even worse imply they may act to have the children removed. But they never did.
No one ever complained about them. It wasn’t as if they stole or made a nuisance of themselves, in fact, most people felt for them and offered them food and clothing more often than not.
They had become a permanent fixture in our neighbourhood with Patrick doing odd jobs and displaying an uncanny knack for fixing anything electrical. It was a gift he had, and his efforts were always appreciated.
Patrick and Ada lived under the old bridge beyond my back fence. They minded their own business, were polite and cared for their children. Perfect neighbours, you might say.