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Written by Timothy Sexton
Fausto is a young man living in the poorer section of Fresno, California who is inspired to become a musician after seeing a performance by Los Lobos on TV. The story is about his odyssey to find a way to earn enough money to buy a guitar and the lesson he learns about guilt and responsibility after a chance encounter with a dog on a visit to a wealthier section of town leads him to make a deal with the devil like others before him who share his name.
Los Lobos is an actual rock band made up of Latinos like Fausto himself. The only music he was used to hearing played by musicians that resembled him was old-fashioned traditional conjunto music, so seeing Los Lobos rock out on a show like American Bandstand becomes a moment of epiphany about the possibilities out there for someone like him. Although Los Lobos members are not characters in the sense of actual interaction, they are essential as a force of change which drives the narrative.
Fausto’s mom is less a fully fleshed-out character than a symbol of the basic decency of his household. Gets the answer about guitars being expensive and money being tight that he expected when he told her wants the instrument, but her love for her son and desire to give him everything he wants is expressed through her promise to try even if she can’t promise to succeed.
When Fausto bikes over to the richer part of town, it is for the purpose of trying to earn money by raking leaves from those who might have enough money to pay for this task. Even so, he does not have much luck until a dog is drawn to him by the aroma of the orange he is eating. Roger is the dog and the miracle he’s been looking for: he need only scam the dog’s owners by lying about having found him running loose.
Fausto takes Roger to the address inscribed on the tag attached to his fancy collar, bolstered by the assumption that anyone who could afford such a nice collar would probably be willing to pay a reward. He makes up a story about finding the dog in danger near the highway. Sure enough, the owners live in a nice house and have nice things and are willing to offer $20 for bringing Roger back safely without Fausto even asking. Unfortunately for Fausto’s conscience, the owners do not just have nice things, but are also genuinely nice people. Helen, the wife, even offers him a new kind of dessert he’s never heard of before called a turnover.
Fausto is so consumed by guilt that he takes the unusual step of accompanying his mother to church the next day. Despite the fact that he probably says it in every sermon, when Father Jerry looks out over the congregation during his sermon and announces that we all sinner, Fausto believes he is looking straight at him as if he is saying these words only to him, thus stoking the flames of his burning conscience at lying to the nice people who own Roger and taking their money.
Fausto’s grandfather who it turns out, after Fausto is moved by guilt to put the twenty dollar bill into the church collection basket, had had an old guitarron (one of those guitars with the enormously rounded body—just like the one used by one of the guys in Los Lobos!) out in his garage the whole time. Lupe teaches his grandson how to play the instrument as well.
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