Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 18.2

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 eighteen, part two.

It hurt me to know that Max had been harbouring feelings for me all those years without letting on. In a number of ways, I’m glad I didn’t know when Sophie was still with me because that would have been difficult for all of us. On the other hand, if I’d known before Sophie and I became more than physio and patient, maybe things would have been different. On the other hand (how many hands can there be?) had that happened, I wouldn’t now have David, and would never have met Jess. Hell, I may never have met Jason and Noelani. That’s the trouble with exploring what-ifs; things get over-complicated.

I made a decision a long time ago, I think it was not long after my accident, that I would never regret anything in my past. The reason for that is simple: if I regretted my past; if I wished to change anything that had happened in my life; I’d have been wishing for a different present, which I’ve never done. You see, everything, no matter how tiny, no matter how seemingly insignificant that we do in our lives, every choice, every decision we make, irrevocably changes the world forever. And not just for ourselves, either. Let me give a hypothetical example:

While walking to the bus stop, I see across the road someone I recognise, an old colleague I haven’t seen for some time, perhaps. I decide to call out to him. He looks at me and ends up bumping into someone who drops their mobile phone. The phone is picked up by an opportunist thief who runs off with it. The thief is rugby-tackled by a well-meaning passer-by, her head hits the pavement, the impact fractures her nose, causing a bone to penetrate her brain and kill her. The passer-by ends up in prison convicted of manslaughter, and when the police examine the phone, they find it contains embarrassing material that ultimately results in the break-up of its owner’s marriage.

Now, if I hadn’t called to the man I saw across the street, one young woman would still be alive, one man would probably still be married and another would still be walking the streets a free man. At the same time, although I would most assuredly regret its consequences, I could never regret calling to the man because, had I not done so and stopped to witness what followed, I wouldn’t have missed the bus and spent ten minutes at the stop, making the acquaintance of a homeless woman who told me her story and led me, by a most indirect path, to make a substantial donation to a homeless charity, which in turn provided support and shelter for a dozen or more homeless folk.

I can only speculate on what might have been different, had I known at the time Max invited me to join her in her East African venture, that she had deep feelings for me. I imagine that I would have become protective of her, as I had always been with Sophie – frequently much to her annoyance. It is likely that thinking I was protecting Max, I would have been more cautious in many of the things we did. Having said that, Max was, like Sophie, a strong-willed woman who would never mildly sit back and allow me to assume the role of protector. That would have militated against the partnership of equals that we enjoyed during the years we spent together as HanMax Consultants. On balance, then, it is as well that things panned out the way they did. And it was a partnership I enjoyed, and I think she did too. It certainly didn’t stop at business. To many, we were the ultimate Darby and Joan, more than friends but less than lovers, perhaps appearing as brother and sister. Even so, it was a source of some discomfort to me, knowing that poor Max had felt obliged to suppress her true feelings for so many years.

I really need to see someone to reground me; I’m starting to become morbidly maudlin, and that’s not something I like. I need young people around me to keep my mind active. Not necessarily young like Hannah, although she brightens any room she enters and she never fails to get me into a younger state of mind. No, I mean young like Lindy and Tanja. I know they’re both retired and pushing seventy, but I always think of them as younger folk. If I close my eyes now, I can clearly see Lindy in his best floral shirt and tight jeans, jumping up and down and clapping his hands from the wrist, having been given even the tiniest morsel of good news. Then I see Tanja in black leathers, her ears, lips, eyebrows and nose decked with metal ornaments and her hair bright green, blue, purple or whatever the couleur de jour happens to be. And I can see Henk beside her. Henk, my old sidekick who had stood beside me through all manner of tribulations. Henk, who had never let me down and, when that snake Parker had made those vile allegations, was the only one of my directors who refused from the beginning to give any credence to his lies. Poor Henk, whom I fully expected to outlive me but who fell prey to a massive heart attack so recently.

But I can see him there. And Max is with him, and Sophie. And my father, too. And… is that Dicky? Oh dear, what’s his surname? Damned if I can remember. Dicky was my first friend at prep school, my first friend ever, really. Funny thing is, I never did find out why everyone called him Dicky. His name was Barry. That’s it – Barry Bowe. Fancy him being here now. I wonder if that means anything…

THE END


Enjoyed the serialisation? You can now buy the book with Amazon

Omnibus edition – Hannice Knight, a life in three parts:
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or individually:

Knight & Deigh (Hannice Knight part 1)
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A bump in the Knight (Hannice Knight part 2)
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Knight after Knight (Hannice Knight part 3)
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Starting next week.

Rory Rogerson is 67; an overweight, unfit, retired ‘protection officer’ (that’s PC for hired muscle). He is also a prolific and, by his own reckoning, successful author of crime fiction.

Penny (60) is his headmistress wife and Charlie Watkiss is the bloke next door.

Together, they make a formidable team!

Rory (ret’d) will be serialised in 63 parts between May 2020 and July 2021.

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 18.1

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 eighteen, part one.

Time passed.

The one thing I had feared most; being inactive and vegetating, didn’t happen. David kept me involved by copying me in on everything he sent or received, even claiming at one time that I was de-facto co-Chairman of the group. Although I was less mobile than I had been, I was still able to walk. It was harder work, and I could no longer spend long periods on my feet. I had stopped driving beyond the gates of the estate when some tests showed that my reactions were no longer quick enough for me to drive safely at motorway speeds, and the deterioration of my eyesight meant that it was increasingly difficult for me to look at the road and the car’s instruments, even with varifocal lenses.

That didn’t mean I was housebound – far from it, in fact. I could make my way to the car unaided and one of the drivers could take me wherever I needed to go. I chose not to go to London, though. I was becoming less comfortable in crowded places. David did ask me to attend a number of Board meetings, where I was more an observer than a participant but was still able to exert some influence. Latterly, my attendance had been virtual, making use of the teleconferencing system that we had set up for the regions.

Sophie’s – I mean Hannah’s twenty-first birthday eventually came around and I was, of course, present. I had only recently passed my eighty-ninth birthday which went by with only a very small celebration, but no way was Hannah going to get away with that. The great hall at Knight Towers was decked out for a massive celebration and something like two hundred guests arrived. And what a mix of people they were: all ages from late teens to, well, eighty-nine.

I didn’t stay too long – there’s a limit to how long I can take three-digit decibels without pain – but during the time I was there, I had a great time. Sadly, I had outlived all my peers, so I couldn’t enjoy the company of any of the people I’d worked with during my active days. That’s not quite true; Lindy and Tanja were there. They had both retired by then; Lindy was approaching his seventieth birthday and Tanja was only a year or so behind. They had each run their own regions, Lindy looking after Africa from Dar-es-Salaam and Tanja covering Europe from Amsterdam, both with great and enduring success. Lindy’s husband, Roger, had died a couple of years before his retirement. Max and Mercy, their adopted children, were still in Dar, sharing a large colonial-era house, and invited Lindy to move in with them when he had to leave Nocturne. On her retirement, Tanja, who had never married, also moved in with Lindy – interestingly, on the same basis that Max and I had lived together. They were best friends of more than forty years standing and complemented and supported each other. When I said I needed to leave because the noise level was causing me discomfort, Lindy and Tanja said they’d like to come with me.

Although I had been on my feet for much of the evening, I’d used a wheelchair to get to the party – Hannah had pushed me there, leaving the chair in the lobby. Lindy offered to push me back, but Tanja pulled rank as the younger and, I suspected, the fitter of the two. She pushed me to the house and into the lift. She and Lindy took the stairs – there isn’t room for two people and a wheelchair in the lift – and we went through to my flat.

“How are you finding Africa?” I asked Tanja.

“Rather different from Amsterdam,” she said, “and not just the weather, either. I had a bit of culture shock. I think if it hadn’t been for LJ it would have been overwhelming, but he’s great.” She took Lindy’s hand and gave it a squeeze. The look they shared suggested that what they had between them was a little more, a little deeper than Max and I had shared.

“It’s great seeing you two together at last,” I said, “I think you should have been together a long time ago.”

“We couldn’t,” Tanja said, “there was no way on earth I would have done anything to come between LJ and Roger. They were so right together.”

“That’s very noble of you. I don’t know if I could have done that.”

“Max did,” Lindy said.

“What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you know? Max was in love with you.”

“When? I didn’t know anything about that.”

“Honestly, Boss,” Lindy said, his voice tinged with exasperation, “do you seriously think she would have held on to your job in Dar for you, and done so much to arrange for your care and all the other things she did if she weren’t in love with you? It wasn’t easy for her, you know.”

“It never occurred to me. She never said anything. Why?”

“I can answer that in one word. Sophie. Max would no more have come between Sophie and you than Tanja would between Roger and me.”

I was stunned. “I can’t believe I was so dim,” I said.

“I can,” Tanja said, “because LJ was, as well.”

“It looks like you and I have a few things in common, young man.”

“Ooh, thank you, Boss. I can’t remember the last time someone called me a young man. But yes, we do have things in common, particularly where our women are concerned. I think we’re both a bit obtuse. But I think that’s the only thing that’s alike about us,” he said, pursing his lips into a mock kiss. I don’t mind admitting that made me feel a little uncomfortable.

We had a grand chat, though. Lindy and Tanja were still in my flat when the party broke up and Hannah popped in to make sure I was okay.

“I’m fine,” I said, “Hannah, do you know Lindisfarne Aldredge and Tanja Voorwinde?”

“I think I may have met you when I was younger,” she said, turning to my guests, “but I’m afraid my memory of the meeting isn’t great.”

“Don’t worry,” Tanja said with a chuckle,” we were probably younger then, too. Not the pair of old codgers we are now. Happy birthday, by the way, Hannah. Did you enjoy your party?”

“I did, thanks. And thank you for rescuing Grandpa, I didn’t think he’d last too long down there.”

“Cheeky girl. I did more than an hour without baling. Anyway, can you see if there’s a spare room for my guests, please?” I turned to Lindy, “You will stay, won’t you? You shouldn’t need to drive back this late.”

“We’ve only got one spare room that’s not booked, Grandpa. Will that be okay? It’s a double.”

“I expect we’ll manage,” Tanja said, with a wink to Lindy.

“It’s the room next to yours, and it’s already made up,” Hannah said, “if you need nightclothes—”

“No need,” Lindy said, “I don’t know about Tanja, but I always sleep au naturel.”

Hannah blushed.

Moi aussi,” Tanja said, then she looked at Lindy and said, “voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”

Hannah blushed some more.

“That’s rather formal, isn’t it?” I asked.

“It’s a song.”

“I know.”

“Okay. Maybe I could say ‘voudras-tu coucher avec moi ce soir?’ Better?”

“Much,” I said, “aren’t you going to respond to that invitation, Mr Aldredge.”

Mais bien sûr, mon amour,” he said.

Poor Hannah. It’s a funny thing, young people have few inhibitions in their own relationships, yet have great difficulty with the concept of sexual behaviour in their parents or in people of their parents’ or grandparents’ age.

 

 

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 17.4

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 seventeen, part four.

A few days later I had a call from Dr Ray.

“I have the results of your biopsy, Hannice,” he said.

“I thought you were going to email it to me, so I could see the actual report.”

“I was, and I will, but I wanted to talk to you about it first.”

That had me worried. “Go on, then. Tell me what it said.”

“We did a couple of tests whilst we were there,” he said, “we checked for colo-rectal problems as well as your prostate, and took some blood for a full work-up.”

“You didn’t say you were going to do that!”

“So sue me. Okay, I didn’t ask for your permission; are you complaining?”

“No. I was just taken by surprise. So what did you find?”

“Mostly, that you’re in remarkably good health for a man of your years.”

“I feel a ‘but’ coming on.”

“You’re right. There are some problems with your prostate—”

“We knew that.”

“Yes, we did. But we didn’t know exactly what we were dealing with, which is why we took the biopsy.”

“Go on.”

“I’m delighted to say it’s not cancerous, but we do need to take some action before it deteriorates much farther. We can address it with medication, a single pill each evening; no serious side-effects as far as we know; or we can perform a minor surgery.”

“What’s the surgery?”

“It’s called a Trans-Urethral Resection. Under local anaesthetic, we insert into your prostate, through the urethra, a small instrument with a camera attached. We then remove some of the excess material, resulting in a reduction in the size of your prostate.”

“So you’re talking about pushing a Rolleiflex into me through the end of my willy.”

“Hardly. It’s a fine fibre-optic. You’ll feel nothing at the time and only mild discomfort for a few days afterwards. We’d need to keep you in for about four days.”

“Side effects?”

“Two of note. Firstly, it often results in what we call retrograde ejaculation. That means that any ejaculate passes back into your bladder instead of coming out through your penis.”

“I think I vaguely remember ejaculation. Not a problem. Two?”

“There is a risk – a very slight risk but it would be wrong of me not to mention it – of pre-cancerous cells being excited by the operation—”

“I’m glad someone’s excited by it!”

“Hannice, please. The procedure can marginally increase the risk of prostate cancer. For that reason, if you elect to have the surgery, I’d need the urologist to check you each year. Just as a precaution.”

“Do it.”

“The operation?”

“Yes. I have no wish to take yet another pill every day for the rest of my life – it’s just something else to forget, isn’t it?”

“For what it’s worth, I think you’re making the right decision. I’ll book an appointment with the urologist. Any preferred date?”

“It would have to be a day when I’m not busy.”

“When would that be?”

“Every day,” I said drily.

The email confirmed what Dr Ray had told me, and included a couple of leaflets explaining the procedure. Apparently, I’m to be knocked out briefly so they can give me an epidural, then brought back for the operation. According to the leaflet, it’s quite common for the patient to observe the procedure on the monitor that the surgeon is using to see what he’s doing. I don’t know if that was intended to reassure me, but it didn’t. However, I had made my decision and had no intention of changing it.

I told the family the result of the biopsy after dinner. I gave Jess and Hannah the option of leaving before I went into any detail on what was to happen to me, but they both chose to remain. They all listened intently to what I had to say, Hannah unsuccessfully hiding acute embarrassment when I spoke of the likely side-effects of the operation but, to her credit, she didn’t rush out or show any distaste.

The operation, which took place at the nearby hospital, went exactly as I’d expected. In a semi-dazed state, I watched the whole thing on the monitor, but when I asked if there was anything better on another channel, no-one saw the funny side. I had a momentary panic whilst in the recovery room. When the nurse who was looking after me asked if I could raise my legs, I found I couldn’t and had a flash-back to that awful period all those years ago after I’d damaged my spinal cord. She saw my concern and explained that the epidural had numbed me from the waist down and she had to check that I was getting movement back before she could release me back to the ward. I understood what she was saying to me and took it on board, but my subconscious stayed in panic mode until I was able to move my legs again; just a little at first, but sensation and movement returned incrementally and I was finally wheeled back into the room where David, Jess and Hannah were waiting for me.

“How are you, Granddad?” Hannah asked, looking at the tubes connected to a bottle of clear liquid on one side of my bed and, shall we say not-clear liquid on the other.

“Okay now,” I said. I looked at David and asked, “Did they tell you anything about what they’ve done?”

“A bit,” he said, “they said you were worried when you couldn’t move your legs at first.”

“Worried? I was terrified. You have to remember I was still groggy from the anaesthetic – still am a bit, truth be told. When I had no feeling below the waist, I started thinking that maybe it won’t come back; that what they’d done had opened up the old would and I’d be stuck in a wheelchair again. This time for good!”

“But that’s not happened, has it?” Jess said.

“No, thank goodness.”

“The doctors say you’ll stay in here for a few days, to give your prostate time to recover. When you come home, they’ll give you details of what you have to do – mostly taking it easy for six weeks or so, and they’ll give me instructions of what we can do to help your recovery.”

“David, did I do the right thing?”

“Yes, Dad, you did. And I’ve booked an appointment to have all the tests that you had. I’ve been too busy to keep on top of these things, but even though you don’t have any signs of cancers, the possibility that you may have had it has shaken us all into having all the screenings available.” Jess and Hannah nodded. It seems they’ve decided to take advantage of the programmes, too.

Back at home, the recovery went well. I was concerned at first to see blood in my urine, but I should have expected that. The six-week period was the time it was expected to take for the prostate to heal fully. Before that time, things were clear and I was regularly glad that I’d had the procedure. I could sleep all night and had what the doctors call a good flow.