Before us stood, Oscar Davison, the weediest man, I have ever seen. He had come before the Town council to explain his actions in what we believed was his selling us out to unscrupulous developers who ripped the savings from the town and who left us with nothing but the scared landscape where they once proposed a new and exciting development. We would all make money, we would all profit from this enterprise and it was an offer too good to give up on.
Planning had gone ahead on the proposal. There would new homes, new shops, new businesses and most of all hope for a dying town.
It was like we were offered a chance to recover from what had already been a terrible drought in which many in the farming community had lost livestock and many their entire livelihood.
We had been sold on the idea, a new community would emerge, new mines would be opened in what we were led to believe were coal rich paddocks around the town.
After such a long time in dire straits the change to change our luck and our prospects was too good to deny.
Everyone sunk what money they had into the idea. Donations were made, records were kept of monies given it all appeared above board.
Then overnight the developers disappeared, along with all our savings. It was several days before the deception was discovered. By then the culprits had made their getaway and we were left with nothing.
Oscar Davison was the town’s liaison person, through him we heard news from the developers, through him we put our money into the project. Through him we felt we were made to look stupid, country bumpkins, uneducated, easy marks for these people who had not blinked once in taking from us all we had.
Oscar had worked for the bank and was the obvious person to take up the challenge on behalf of the bank and the developers.
But he had been stung too. He was as penniless as everyone else. But the community held him responsible, as there had to be someone on whom the town’s wrath could descend.
In the days following the revealing of the deception Oscars house had been rocked, his car vandalised, his children terrorised and his wife assaulted in the main street. So much so that he had had to send them away while he battled the town and their opinions.
He quickly found that everywhere he went he was not welcomed. Not one person felt sorry for him in any way, as they argued he should have suspected something was wrong at some point.
The meeting was called to order and the Mayor called for a motion to declare Oscar a persona non grata. That way they planned to send him from their town forever. The motion was moved and seconded unanimously.
Oscar then stood and said he wanted to say something. His appearance was greeted with boos from the packed room. The Mayor held for silence and directed Oscar to speak, as he had a right to.
My friends like you I have also lost everything in this debacle. I too am angry that I allowed myself to be duped in this way. But I have suffered far more than any of you. Each of you have your homes, and your families. You have taken my family from me. They have gone away unable to withstand the anger you feel and directed at them. There were innocents in this.
I look around at those I once invited into my home, those who invited my family to share a meal with your family.
My home you have destroyed. My house is unlivable such is the destruction it was subjected to.
My life has become unlivable. I want you to remember that like you I was enthusiastic about the prospects for the town that this development promised. Like you I too am penniless, but I am probably more penniless than any of you. You have taken way my sense of belonging. My family you have destroyed, my sense of community you have shattered. This was a wonderful community to live in and I am so saddened that you have attributed the sole blame for this onto me.
I want to propose that as of tonight we work together to rebuild our town. The police will find those responsible. I have given them every piece of information I can to assist in the recovery of your money.
I know that tonight you have come here to have me thrown out of town but rather, despite how I feel about you right now, how crushed I am by your accusations that I was part of this scam, we have good people living here, we have the makings of a strong community.
So if it is your wish to cast me out then so be it.
Rather it is my wish that you take me back and together we build our town, our community, our sense of self.