That evening, Raphael and Gardo are kicking a ball around while Raphael’s auntie boils rice over a communal cooking fire with 30 or so other people. Suddenly, the police show up—a rare sighting in Behala. Raphael only remembers a few other occasions when he’s seen them: one time, they came to arrest a man who slit his wife’s throat and left her to bleed out into the shack underneath. Another time, the police came to hunt down a political candidate. This time, they’ve come for the bag. The police talk briefly with Thomas (the informal leader of the community) and they offer 10,000 pesos to anyone who hands the bag in.
Mulligan’s description of evenings among Behala’s residents shows that even though they live in such awful conditions, there is a strong sense of community, including evenings cooking communally around the fire. This seems to provide some respite from the grim reality of their existence. Raphael’s mention of the police coming to hunt a political candidate in the past hints that the government in this society might be corrupt.
Raphael’s skin goes cold and he almost raises his hand, but something in him doesn’t trust the policemen. Raphael’s auntie tells the policemen that Raphael found something and he panics, telling them that he just found a shoe. The police explain that they need the bag to solve a crime and they offer to pay the community—including Raphael, who they single out—to search for it. Raphael knows his auntie wants to keep him out of trouble, but he thinks she was wrong to speak up.
Raphael’s failure to trust the police hints once again that the city’s authority figures may be corrupt and therefore untrustworthy. Raphael’s quick thinking on the spot (whereby he denies finding a bag) demonstrates a streetwise intelligence that Raphael’s auntie lacks, since she inadvertently draws attention to Raphael, making him more vulnerable.
Raphael lives with his auntie. Raphael sleep in a box the size of a sheet with his cousins (and sometimes Gardo). Raphael keeps his most precious finds from the dumpsite in a beer crate back on his side of the box, including a pair of jeans, a broken penknife, a cup with a picture of the Virgin Mary, a broken watch, and—since that morning—the bag. Gardo wants to move the bag because he didn’t like the way the police looked at Raphael. Gardo says they ought to hide it with Rat because nobody ever goes to that part of the dumpsite—not even the other dumpsite kids.
Raphael’s description of his cramped and pitiful living quarters once again indicates the level of poverty that children in this society have to endure. Gardo’s plans reveal that he, like Raphael, has pragmatic intelligence. Despite having no education, Gardo is able to think strategically to hide the bag from the police. Gardo’s willingness to involve himself in Raphael’s predicament also demonstrates his loyalty.