Alfonso Chase is a poet, essayist, and fiction writer, as well as a Professor of Literature at the Universided Nacional de Costa Rica. He has edited a two-volume survey of Costa Rican fiction, La narrative contemporanea de Costa Rica, and has authored many works including the novels Los juegos furtivos, Las puertas de la noche, and El pavo real y la mariposa. His short story, “Faust in Hatillo,” appears in Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion.
“Faust in Hatillo” details a strange encounter with an unusual man. Faust, who owns a shoe repair shop, is listening to threats from his wife to make “a soup out of boots, slippers, moccasins, topsiders, whatever” because his customers have not come to pay for the repairs to their shoes. It is then that the indescribable stranger appears and asks Faust to repair his sandal, which is made of the finest leather. Faust repairs the shoe as he listens to the stranger talk. The stranger seems to be reading his mind, though Faust cannot tell if he has even opened his mouth. Nevertheless, the stranger holds Faust under a spell, and when he leaves, he pays handsomely for the repair. What Faust does with this payment will change his life. In this story, Chase introduces the everyday problems of the working class while painting a portrait of the ways that strangers unexpectedly enter our lives and teach us about ourselves.
Photo Credit: La Nacion
Source: Ras, Barbara, ed. Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. San Francisco: Whereabouts, 1994.