Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 7.2

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.


Knight after Knight. Chapter seven, part two.

Later that evening, over dinner, Jess told me that they had been to see their gynaecologist in the afternoon. I feigned surprise. I think I was convincing enough.

“She is convinced that there’s no reason I shouldn’t conceive,” Jess said, “David’s sperm count is fine and they’re good little swimmers, she says, and all my indicators are positive. She’s given me some supplements that might help, but she says the key thing for both of us is to avoid stress. Well, more me than David. So I’ll be taking a back seat at the office for a while.”

“Stress and senior management go hand in hand, I’m afraid,” I said, “but if you take a back seat, that’ll put more pressure on David, won’t it?”

“It should only be for a month or so, Dad, just through one cycle.”

“Would I be able to call on you in the meantime?” David asked, “I don’t mean at the office, but when I’m working from home. I’d just like to run past you things that I wouldn’t normally.”

“Short-term, of course,” I said, “but there’s every possibility I’ll be getting involved in another venture quite soon.”

“That’s great news, Dad. What? Where? Tell all.”

“I will, but not until I’ve made some decisions. Max is coming around tomorrow morning; I may have more to say afterwards.”

***

“I’ve been doing some thinking,” I said to Max after we’d had coffee the following morning, “The first thing I have to say is I can’t do anything for a month or so. For reasons I don’t want to go into right now, Jess needs to take it easy for a while so I’ll be supporting David in her stead.”

“Is she okay?”

“She’s fine. She’s just been advised to take things easy for a while.”

“Ah, bless. Is she trying to get pregnant?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to. A woman knows things, you know.”

“Anyway. What did Lindy have to say?”

“He wants to talk it through with his solicitor—”

“Is he still using Dick Branson?”

“Same firm, but Dick retired a few years ago. So, he’ll get back to me after he’s had his chat. He’ll speak to Kanene about it, too. Did you know she’s honorary shamen after her father’s death?”

“Kanene? Witch doctor?”

“Honorary. She sits alongside the village chieftain as one of the elders. We’d probably call her a councillor, although, like the chief, hers isn’t an elected position. It’s hereditary, kind of like a peerage.”

“But that increases her influence, yes?”

“Absolutely. As if she doesn’t have enough already as the acknowledged number one interior designer in East Africa.”

“Well, subject to what Lindy’s solicitor has to say, subject to what Kanene has to say and subject to the need, short-term, for me to support David here; I’m in.”

“Terrific. Let’s celebrate.”

“Another cup of coffee?”

“And some biscuits.”

“Double chocolate chip?”

“What else?”

I pressed the intercom button on my watch and asked Jen to bring in another tray of coffee and biscuits. Yes, I have one of those watches. So do Jen and Pepu. And David and Jess. Oh yes, and Jason and Nell. It is so much more convenient than having to pick up a phone, isn’t it? Do you remember the old science-fiction movies and television programmes from the 1950s and 1960s, where people would talk to their watches to communicate? Didn’t it look fantastic at the time? Mind you, so did doors that opened as you walked towards them and shut again after you were through. And mobile phones are so much like Encyclopaedia Galactica, what with Wikipedia and the like, and personal assistant AIs that actually converse with you. That must mean we’re living in the future!

Max had brought a lot of information with her. With David’s permission, I took her into what used to be my office and put the memory stick (you didn’t think she’d brought her information on paper, did you?) into the computer linked to the wall display. Once the resident security software had scanned it and declared it safe I started pulling up some of the information;

“You’ve done a thorough job here, Max,” I said.

“For you, Boss, I wouldn’t dare do otherwise,” she replied with a grin.

“Sources?”

“Publicly available information – Wikipedia, Britannica, newspaper and news web site archives mostly. There’s a lot of semi-apocryphal stuff out there, but I worked on the basis that if I can’t authenticate it, I can’t believe it so it’s stayed out. Everything you see there I’ve verified from multiple sources and I’m happy to put my name to it.”

“Good enough for me.”

We went through much of the information she’d given and ended up with a reasonable handle on the situation facing a lot of people as a result of the colour of their skin, their gender, their sexuality or their religion. And that is without looking at areas of military or civil conflict. Seeing all that, it’s something of a wonder that the number of refugees and asylum-seekers isn’t a darned site higher than it is already.

“How many of these people can we help through Holy Island Services, do you think?”

“We can scratch at the surface, that’s all. But if, as a result of our presence, one person is helped who would not have been helped were we not there, then it’s worth doing.”

“You’re right, of course, but I don’t think I could feel that we’ve earned our crust, as it were, unless we can have a positive effect on a significant number of lives.”

“That’s where the second string of our bow comes in. As well as directly helping people, I see us as enablers; sort of in the train-the-trainers mould. I want us to speak to groups of people.” I raised my eyebrows at that – public speaking has never been my favourite activity. Max continued, “Yes, we must speak to groups of the target populations: the people with albinism, the LGBT and whatever other letters are added on these days, and so on; it’s also important that we speak to, enable and support other groups with aims similar to ours. Very often these are committed, enthusiastic people who have every attribute they need except business and organisational skills. We can give them those missing skills.”

“You’ve really thought this through, haven’t you? How long have you been working on this?”

“Since the day I handed my job over to Caspar.”

“Are you still sure Caspar’s up to the job?”

“Absolutely. He’s a good man, Hannice, and very capable.”

“So why did he need you to go back there … you know?”

“I haven’t mentioned it to you, because I know that was a horrible, horrible time for you, but the reason he called me back was that the problem needed a forensic accountant’s eye.”

“I thought he had a forensic accountant in his team – what’s her name, Janice. Isn’t she forensic?”

“She is, but she was suspected of being behind the irregularity so he couldn’t ask her.”

“Resolved now?”

“Let’s just say Caspar is actively recruiting her replacement and the police are actively looking into her activities.”

“Good.”

“Anyway; like you, I now need a reason to get up in the morning. Through all the time I spent working as your regional director and your CFO, I’ve had at the back of my mind the difficult lives that so many people in developing countries live, and I’ve been determined for a long time to apply myself to doing something, however small, to help them on my retirement.”

“That’s very noble of you, Max. And I’m delighted and honoured that you’ve asked me to join you.”

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