‘The Confidence Man’ by George Garrett


The Confidence Man by George Garrett, 1959

The magic trick:

Creating conflict through a point of view that judges without asking questions 

Just been watching “The Night Of” this month on HBO. My wife makes a good point. Why doesn’t someone just sit down and ask Nas his side of the story? she asks.

It’s true. No one does for the first half of the series. The result? Drama. Conflict. Frustrating, yes, but it sure is intriguing.

Same situation here in “The Confidence Man.” It’s another story about a community in the south – and we’ve had a bunch of ‘em now on SSMT – focused on the close-minded judgments of groupthink conflicting with the independent behavior of an individual.

The action is revealed from the perspective of the town. The town thinks Miss Alma’s done lost her mind. Now, maybe if someone just sat down and asked Miss Alma her side of the story, they’d feel a lot better about things. In the end, they finally do, and the conflict is solved. And that’s quite a trick on Garrett’s part.

The selection:

It was the fisherman who spoke first.

“He’s from Georgia,” he said. “I can always tell a Georgia accent.”

“Pocket full of money. Did you see all those bills?”

“I didn’t know Miss Alma had any family in Georgia.”

“As far as I know, she don’t,” someone said.

“Anyway, that fellow don’t have the Drinkwater nose.”

“Might be on the Cawley side.”

“I doubt it.”

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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