The spruce man with the trim mustache and the grim-faced bodyguard is dozing in his seat. A flight attendant leaves him a hot towel, and then another. The bodyguard, who wears the uniform of the Kiribati National Police—the shoulder patch depicts a yellow frigate bird flying clear of the rising sun—folds the towels carefully and places them on an armrest.
The Fiji Airways flight is moving north across the equator to Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. The passengers include a Japanese executive who represents important tuna interests, a Mormon luminary from Samoa and his prim wife, and an American dressed in the manner of an Iraq War contractor, on a mission to recover the remains of U.S. Marines killed in World War II. We are all impatient for the sleeping man, who is the president of Kiribati, to wake up. We each have business to transact with him.