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The Short Form

“The Partridge Festival”

Flannery O'Connor


Ten days before the festival began, a man named Singleton had been tried by a mock court on the courthouse lawn for not buying an Azalea Festival Badge. During the trial he had been imprisoned in a pair of stocks and when convicted, he had been locked in the “jail” together with a goat that had been tried and convicted previously for the same offense. The “jail” was an outdoor privy borrowed for the occasion by the Jaycees. Ten days later, Singleton had appeared in a side door on the courthouse porch and with a silent automatic pistol, had shot five of the dignitaries seated there and by mistake one person in the crowd. The innocent man received the bullet intended for the mayor who at that moment had reached down to pull up the tongue of his shoe.

“An unforutnate incident,” his Aunt Mattie said. “It mars the festive spirit.”

We read it in The Complete Stories.