In the boat’s salon over breakfast, Plotkin and Badilla set about renewing what both pretended was a long and fond friendship with Travis and their association with FrijoLoco.

“How’s Alma?”

“How’s Tony and Rafi?”

“Please give them my regards.”

Travis was not about to undertake the difficult task of pretending he knew them, and simply stated that his long absence from the company was the result of having lost his memory, and that even now it had not returned.

“Jesus,” Plotkin said, as if he’d confessed to having cancer.

“You’re kidding, right?” Badilla said.

Travis said he wasn’t kidding. “It’s okay. Look, it just means we need to get reacquainted.”

“Sure, no problem, man.”

“Yeah, no big deal.”

Balding, overweight and looking older than a forty-something should, with a face as round as a clock dial and bulging eyes that gave him an expression of being continually surprised, Plotkin claimed to be happily married and was the father of two children. He had come from money and had used some of it to make more of it—enough to buy the languishing Farkis Pork Products of Duluth, Minnesota, and turn it into a money machine. “I saw the future of pork,” he explained off-handedly.

Badilla was a kind of opposite to him, a Laurel, Travis thought, to Plotkin’s Hardy. The son of Cuban immigrants, he was thin, dark and angular, with a sharp chin and a headful of thick, black hair that seemed incapable of being tamed by either brush or comb. Youthful looking, though he must have been about the same age as Plotkin, he wore the “happily married” badge as well, and had four children, all disappointingly daughters. He confessed that he had been determined to continue producing children until his wife Carmen gave him a son. A fiery-tempered former weather forecaster from WSVN-TV in Miami, Carmen had to put a hand­gun to his head to convince him she had other ideas. Badilla operated six franchises and said he had a plan to open more. His stores were consistently among the most profitable in the chain. He was proud of his formula of success. “Know your market,” he said, holding up a manicured index finger. “When all your cus­tomers want is something cheap, hot and greasy, there’s no point in going for five stars.”