We are immediately introduced to the protagonist at the beginning of chapter 1. Raphael Fernandez is a "trash or dumpsite boy." Along with his friend, Gardo, Raphael rummages through the Behala dumpsite every day, hoping to find treasures to sell. On a good day, Raphael may make two hundred pesos. It's the only way he can survive in his poverty-stricken town. Both Raphael and Gardo are fourteen years old.
One day, the boys find a small leather bag that turns their lives upside down. The bag contains a wallet, a folded-up map of the city, a key, eleven hundred pesos, a few old papers, photos, and an ID card. Raphael gives five hundred pesos to Gardo and keeps six hundred for himself. When they look at the ID card, they see that it belongs to a man named Jose Angelico. From the card, they learn that Jose is thirty-three years old, unmarried, employed as a houseboy, and lives in Green Hills. The key has the number 101 on both sides. More importantly, there are photos of Jose and a little girl, presumably his daughter, inside the envelope.
Soon, the police come looking for the bag, but Raphael lies to them about his discovery. His aunt becomes uneasy about his lies and begs him to turn the bag over to the police. For his part, Raphael decides against doing so and leaves the next day with Gardo. Both boys decide to take the bag and its contents (minus the money) to a friend (Rat) for safekeeping.
For a hundred pesos, Rat agrees to take Gardo and Raphael to Central Station: there's a locker outside of Platform Four, which the key will open.
The boys eventually make their way to the station. After unlocking the right locker, Rat retrieves a brown envelope. Inside is a letter with an address. The name above the address is Gabriel Olondriz. Meanwhile, the address is Prisoner 746229, Cell Block 34K, South Wing, Colva Prison. There is also a slip with numbers in the envelope.
As the story progresses, Father Julliard is introduced. He is the sixty-three-year-old administrator of the Pascal Aguila Mission School. As an administrator, his main goal is to educate dump-site children like Gardo, Raphael, and Rat. However, he often experiences little success in getting them to attend school.
Meanwhile, Raphael and his two side-kicks trick Father Julliard into letting them use one of the school computers. This is how they discover information about Jose Angelico and Gabriel Olondriz.
Accordingly, Jose Angelico was arrested for robbing Senator Zapanta of six million dollars. Before he was arrested, Jose...
(The entire section is 656 words.)