Sunday serialisation – Knight & Deigh, 3.1

Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It, too, is partly set in the rural Tanzania I remember from the early 1980s, but some of the technologies used are much more recent. To that extent, it is anachronistic. Don’t forget, though; it is fictional, made up, lies. All of it.

Hannice Knight had run the African operation of his father’s global business for many years, when a freak accident at home left him unable to walk. Together with physiotherapist Sophie Deigh, he tries to bring into his life the excitement and adventure he missed in his formative years, due to the need to be tied to the business.

A number of adventures and activities follow including scuba-diving, sky-diving, power-boating and camping, and a half-brother he never knew about; but even these can’t lift Hannice’s spirits.

What, or who can? Will the developing closeness between Hannice and Sophie come to anything, and what of the rumoured advances in medical technology?

Beginning on 12 February 2017, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.

The full list of scenes so far published is here

Knight & Deigh. Chapter Three, scene one: Repatriation.

HR had booked us on a flight a few days later. As Max’s visa situation was now settled, she was free to carry on as Chairman of TanzCap. She would also be able to act as my deputy while she was in Tanzania.

I didn’t enjoy the flight from Dar-es-Salaam to London. It might have been okay as a non-stop flight, but we had to change planes in Geneva, which meant more faffing about in my wheelchair with people fussing over me, then talking about me as if I weren’t there. I used to think this ‘does he take sugar?’ thing was a bit of a joke. It isn’t funny.

The hospital was just twenty miles from Max’s home. We were met on arrival by Dr Harry Khan-Smith, a specialist in spinal trauma, who would be my physician. Ayesha had sent her notes through, so the hospital would know what they were dealing with. An orderly wheeled me through to a private room that they had prepared for me; extremely well, even down to the desk with two network points and a telephone close to my bed. Not forgetting, of course, the monkey frame for me to climb in and out of bed.

Max’s assistant, Sophie, arrived to collect her after I had settled in. Max introduced us, and within a very short time, Sophie had told me that she was a qualified physiotherapist, and had offered to help me when I eventually left hospital.

“Sounds like a good idea, but don’t you work for Max?” I asked.

“It’s not full-time,” Sophie explained, “as long as I do my work, I can set my own hours. It wouldn’t be difficult to fit in an hour a day to help with your physio, and anything else you need me to do for you.”

“That okay with you, Max?” I asked.

“In all honesty,” Max said, “there isn’t enough to keep Sophie occupied all day. If I know she’s busy with you, I just won’t bother her.”

“Sounds like we have a deal then, Sophie. We’ll work out the details later, but let’s shake on the principle.” Hands were shaken, and an agreement struck.

“Sophie, I may have to go back to Tanzania again soon,” Max said, anticipating the result of the conversation she was about to have with Della. “Are you okay to visit Hannice every so often, just so he’s not on his own here? I’ll be video-calling him regularly about work — his and mine — but I think it would be good for him to see a friendly face, too.”

“Of course, Max. I need to spend some time here to make sure I’m clear on his physio régime. In cases like this, it may be crucial to his recovery — assuming he does get his mobility back.”

Why do people talk about you as though you weren’t there?

“Ahem!” I interjected, “I am here, you know.”

Max and Sophie both apologised, promised they would never do it again, and promptly left.

I was rather tired after the journey and the excitement of everything, and I quickly drifted off to sleep with, surprisingly, the image of Sophie’s face in my mind.

Sophie was true to her word. She started visiting every day, and working under Doctor Khan-Smith’s instruction to develop my physiotherapy routines. This phase was hard work for me, and left me wanting only sleep. Doctor Harry, as he asked me to call him, had convinced me, though, that even if I couldn’t see any immediate benefit, the exercises and manipulations would yield fruit in time.

I was settling into a simple routine. After breakfast, I would haul myself down to my desk to do some work, Sophie popped in at about 10am, just for company, Doctor Harry did his rounds just before lunch and physio was at 5pm. That left me able to do almost a full day’s work, much as I would have done in my Dar office. I missed Lindy, though. Everything was too calm, too quiet, and too damned serious here.

A few days after my arrival, I had a video call from Max. She told me that there had been a minor event the previous night, which knocked out the telephone and internet connections at Nocturne, so she was using my office computer. She asked how I was feeling about things.

“Sophie visited earlier,” I said, “which was good. I was feeling quite low; you know, stuck here, can’t even to go to the loo without help. Sophie came in and started talking about how she was coping on her own, and suddenly my troubles seemed to diminish a little. Does me a power of good, your Sophie.”

“How’s she doing with the physio?” I asked.

“Really got the hang of it. Doctor Harry says he’s happy for her to fly solo with it now. He doesn’t see any need for him to supervise, just check once a week or so to gauge progress. You got hold of Jaxson since your return?”

“I called his office just before calling you. It seems one of his kids had an accident camping. Not too serious, but the lad has broken a bone in his lower arm. Paul flew back yesterday, as soon as he heard about it. Should be back in a couple of weeks. Meantime, I’ll push ahead with the board meeting this afternoon. You still on to buy TanzCap’s stake in the Jaxson business?”

“In principle, yes, but keep that under your hat for the time being, will you? Need to do some due diligence first, and clear it with Papa. Get my London guys on it today.”

Just then, I saw Lindy come in to view. He and I had a useful chat, and he promised to give Max the same support he had always given me.

“The only trouble is, Boss,” he said, “between you and me, she’s more of a fashion disaster than you were when I started here, if you can imagine such a thing. I’m going to have to do it all over again, like I did with you, if she is to have any credibility.”

“You’ll love it, Lindy; you know you will.”

“I know I will,” he said, grinning. “You know me too well. Anyway, you take care of you, Boss.”

“Don’t need to. Max’s PA is taking care of me.”

“I do hope you aren’t abandoning me for another man.”

“Max’s PA is a woman, Lindy.”

“OMG. That’s worse!”

“Goodbye, Lindy.”

“Goodbye, Boss.”