Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 5.4

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 five, part four.

Things ticked over swimmingly for the next few years. The business continued its slow but steady growth. David gradually took on more of my duties, especially those involving overseas visits. Jess’s pregnancy still hadn’t happened and so she was available to accompany her husband on his trips. For her part, she took an increasing interest in the quasi-philanthropic activities of the investment arm of the business. I have to admit, Max encouraged her in that, mostly because she was becoming less enamoured with the inside of aircraft as the years went by. Knight Global Investments was her baby and that she allowed, even encouraged Jess to take a greater interest in it and to become directly involved in its future spoke much of the respect and esteem in which she held my daughter-in-law.

I sat down with her in my office one afternoon for tea and a chat.

“Max, we’re both just a few months short of seventy. Do you think it’s time we made some decisions?”

“Are you sure we haven’t already made them?”

“Perhaps. I’m about ready to step aside and let my boy take over this seat. Well, he and Jess, of course.”

“I know how you feel, Boss, but what will you do?”

“I’ll stay on as Chairman for as long as the business needs me to, but Sophie and I want to spend more time on Cyprus. You know, relaxing, sightseeing—”

“Doing old people’s stuff, you mean?”

“Old? Me? Not going to happen.”

“You may be too late, Hannice. We are old. Both of us.”

“You’re right, of course. How about you?”

“I think Lindy is ready to take on the regional director’s job. No point in delaying it any more.”

“Henk feels the same about Tanja.”

“And he’s older than us. I know he’s ready to retire.”

“Okay, Max. Let’s set about putting a resolution in front of the Board. Hmmph. That’ll only leave Emily from the group we’ve been working with all these years.”

“She’s turned sixty-five now, too.”

“Let’s see what she has to say at the meeting. Her deputy; name escapes me at the moment; is probably ready for a leg-up.”

We set the meeting up. Around the table were Emily Russell (HR Director), Owen Nicholls (Company Secretary), Max, Henk, David, Jess and myself. Oh, and Sophie in her position of non-voting director. With the exception of David and Jess, and possibly Sophie, it was like a residents’ meeting in an old folks’ home. Danny, Geoff, Scott and Carolina joined over the teleconference network.

After the Company Secretary’s reading and adoption of the minutes of the last Board meeting, we addressed the only substantive item on the agenda: a statement from the Chairman and CEO.

“I imagine you’ve all known for some time that this day would come,” I said, “I am approaching my seventieth birthday and, quite frankly, I want to slow down. You all know that my father, who built this business from nothing, continued working until he was no longer physically capable. Even then, he was still running things from his hospital bed right up until the day he knew the end was imminent. I don’t intend to do that. Is that relief I see around the table?” I paused to allow the group to settle again. “David and Jess have been standing in for me more and more over the past months, and I now feel ready to hand the reins to them. My purpose this morning is to offer you my resignation as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately, and to request that you approve the appointment of David and Jess as joint holders of the office. For the time being at least, I intend to remain in post as Chairman, but I shall stand back from the day-to-day running of Knight Global Trading. That’s it. Thank you all for your loyal support over the years and for enabling the group to go from strength to strength.” I took my seat again, as Sophie leaned over with a smile, squeezed my hand and planted a kiss on my cheek.

Max stood. “Thank you, Hannice. For my part, being of the same age, I wish to give three months’ notice of my intention to leave my post as Chief Financial Officer. That will give enough time for you to select a replacement. I shall provide a short-list of names that I consider suitable, headed by my number two, Caspar Jakobsson, but I won’t attempt to influence the Board’s decision. As for my post of Regional Director for Africa, I have already handed the job to LJ Aldredge in Tanzania. I would ask the Board to consider appointing him regional director in my stead. That will be effective immediately, or as soon as you can do it.” She took her seat to applause from those present in person and over the teleconference links.

Hank stood next. “Not wishing to steal anyone’s thunder, but you are all aware that I have about six years on Hannice and Max. I have been thinking about this for nearly three years now, but Hannice and Max having spoken has prompted me to follow suit. My tenure as Chief Operating Officer has been a source of great joy and great challenge. I have loved every day of it, but seventy-five is plenty old enough to be retiring. Tanja Voorwinde, who is in post as Regional Manager, Europe but doing the regional director’s job, is overdue for confirmation in the post. For myself, can I ask you to accept three months’ notice of my intention to retire, please? Thank you all.”

David blanched visibly. He knew I was stepping down, but the thought of taking over and immediately losing two of the most senior, most experienced and most respected directors wasn’t what he was expecting.

As Chairman, I took the lead again. “Can I have a show of hands for the appointment of David and Jess as joint CEO?”

“Ten for, four abstentions,” Owen said, “The motion passes. So minuted.”

“Thank you, Mr Company Secretary. Appointment of LJ Aldredge as Regional Director, Africa?”

“Unanimous. So minuted.”

“Appointment of Tanja Voorwinde as Regional Director, Europe?”

“Unanimous. So minuted.” I took my seat and Owen stood. “Mr Chairman, I would ask you to bring this meeting to a close. Mr David Knight, once the meeting is closed, will you reconvene, please?”

“Is that strictly necessary, Owen?” I asked.

“With respect, Mr Knight, the company constitution states that all Board meetings are called by the Company Secretary following a request by the Chief Executive. You will effectively relinquish your post by closing the meeting. Mr David Knight or Mrs Jessica Knight, as CEO, will ask me to call a meeting, which I shall do immediately.”

“What a palaver,” I said, “Never mind. This meeting is adjourned.”

“Mr Nicholls,” David said, “Would you be so kind as to convene a meeting of the Board, please?”

“With pleasure, Sir. This meeting is called to order. This meeting is a continuation of the previous meeting adjourned by our Chairman. Its minutes will be combined with those of this meeting. All in favour? Unanimous. So minuted.”

“That’s it?” David asked.

“It is, Mr David. The resolutions passed in your father’s meeting have now taken effect.”
There being no other business, this second meeting was brought to a close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GTI 10.1

Waist of Space, part one of the Unlikelihood series, followed Commanders Tarquin Stuart-Lane and Meredith Winstanley; hapless heroes of the Royal Space Regiment; who were sent on a mission to the Moon from which they were not expected to return. There they met with a group of aliens who had forged a living under the surface of the moon, and whose forebears were testing a new kind of spacecraft.

In part two, FLATUS, our dynamic duo help the aliens (and the RSR) build their own multi-locatable craft. Will the ships be built and if so, will the drives work? What are the possible effects of having three such craft in space at one time? FLATUS — Fantastically Large Assembly for Travel at Unbelievable Speeds. The most unlikely spacecraft never built?

Part three follows the preparation and development of the Gap Travel Initiative (code named GTI) and the developing relationships among and between species, races and genders. Will humankind achieve the nirvana of limitless travel and if so, at what cost. Stick with Tarquin and Meredith as they navigate their route through an uncertain future.


GTI. Chapter ten, scene one.

“My God! You scared the living daylights out of me,” Meredith said when Jinnis Keet, Kala Kodash and Kitara Navilli materialised in front of her without as much as a ‘by your leave’, “You can’t just be arriving unannounced like that. I might have been—”

At that precise moment, her intercom buzzed. The button on her desk took the full force of her shock and anger at the sudden appearance of the group she referred to as ‘the three must get ears’. “What?” she yelled.

“Sorry,” Nigel Swann said, “Patsy; I mean Commander Pratt told me to expect three visitors but I assumed—”

“Assumed? ASSUMED? I don’t pay you to assume!”

“Sorry, Ma’am.”

“I should think you would be sorry. Tell me something, Swann…”

“Ma’am?”

“Do you like working here, Swann? Are you happy working for me?”

“Of course, Ma’am.”

“Then do your bloody job!” she practically screamed before thumping the button to break the connection.

Patsy poked her head around the door and said, “Don’t take it out on Nigel, Admiral. He didn’t know they would appear in your office. He just assumed—”

“I don’t pay him to assume. It’s not his place to assume anything.”

“I know, Admiral, but…”

“But what, Patsy?”

“But you’ve not allowed him to be privy to information about your guests.”

“Of course not, he doesn’t have the necessary clearance.”

“Then how was he supposed to know the Jinthae – good morning, by the way, Jinnis, Kala, Kitara – how was he supposed to know how they’d arrive?”

“Okay, I’ll grant you that.”

“I think you should apologise to him, Meredith.”

“Why? Since when does a full admiral apologise to a sub-lieutenant?”

“I think if the admiral makes the sub-lieutenant cry without just cause, perhaps an apology would be in order.”

“He’s crying?”

“Yes.”

“I mean; crying, weeping, sobbing?”

“Blubbering, Meredith.”

“Okay, Patsy. Get on the line to HR.”

“To arrange an official apology?”

“No, to arrange a replacement. I won’t have cry-babies on my team. Sack him.”

“Sack him? For crying?”

“Yes, for crying.”

“You do know, don’t you, Ma’am, that Sub-Lieutenant Swann is a veteran of numerous campaigns and the holder of a Charles Cross awarded for conspicuous gallantry under fire?”

“And yet he cries when given a ticking off by a woman. Sack him.”

“But, Meredith—”

“Patsy. Sack him. I want his replacement in post by oh-nine-hundred tomorrow and you can induct him for me.”

“Or her.”

“What?”

“HR may send a woman.”

“Whoever they send, make sure he—”

“Or she.”

“Or she has the security clearance appropriate for working in my office. Dismissed.”

Patsy backed through the door and closed it behind her.

“Sorry about that,” Meredith said to the three Jinthae, all of whom had flushed turquoise with embarrassment, “office politics, eh? So. What can I do for you?”

“We are here in response to your request.”

“I didn’t ask you to come.”

The three Jinthae looked at each other with expressions of – okay, with expressionless faces. Meredith assumed they were deep in conversation but, of course, their communications would have been inaudible to her as she wasn’t included in the discussion.

“Looks like there was an error of comprehension, Meredith,” she heard Jinnis Keet say inside her head, “It’s Andrea and Artivon who wanted to see us, so we’ll be off – unless there’s anything you want to talk with us about?”

“No, but I’d love to know whose fault this cock-up was.”

The three Jinthae looked at each other expressionlessly for a moment. “We don’t register the ‘fault’ concept,” Kitara said.

“You surprise me. Fault speaks to responsibility. Who was responsible for this error?”

“We were, of course.”

“You three specifically?”

“Goodness, no. We, the Jinthae bear collective responsibility.”

“What, the entire race of you?”

“Of course.”

“I don’t get it—”

“If I may explain,” Jinnis said, “we Jinthae share everything. Tell me, when you watch a shoal of fish swimming as one, or a group of birds—”

“A murmuration?”

“If I understand the concept then, yes. When you see these things, do you try to identify which individual has the task of planning and coordinating the activity?”

“Well, no, but—”

“So it is with us.”

“So you’re like the Borg?”

“We know nothing of this Borg of which you speak.”

“You have a hive mind?”

“Not exactly, but something like.”

“I see…”

“Your voice claims understanding but your mind is not in accord, it seems,” Kala offered.

“I’ll get there, I just need some time to think about it.”

“Very well,” Jinnis said, “we’ll go and see what Andrea wants.”

“You’ll come back afterwards?”

“Of course. And we know how precious your time is, so we’ll be back very soon.”

“How long?”

“We’re back. Now, where were we?”

 

Where?

“Are you sure it was here, Albert? It was a long time ago, you know.”

“As sure as I am of anything. I clearly remember bringing her out of the house and carrying her down to the garden, like it was yesterday. She was heavy, too, down all those steps.”

“And it was here, this close to the house?”

“Look, I told you she was heavy, didn’t I? I really wanted to put her down under the big oak tree at the bottom, but she was just too darned heavy for me to carry that far. I was only about eight at the time.”

“Couldn’t anyone have helped you with her?”

“Maybe, but Dad was in one of his moods at the time – you know he was sick, don’t you? He wasn’t just bad-tempered, there was something not right in his head. Doctors said he was going senile and that made him crotchety. It wasn’t the knowing he was going senile made him angry, his tempers were just one of the symptoms. They didn’t have fancy names for it back in them days. Didn’t really understand what was going on. Not like now-a-days with all these scans and such like. Anyway, that’s why he couldn’t help.”

“And your Mum?”

“Too busy looking after Dad and trying to keep him happy as well as all the work she had to do. And before you ask, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters; none that lived past five, anyway.”

“So you were an only child, effectively?”

“You cotton on quick, don’t you? I didn’t have brothers or sisters, so of course I was an only child. Queenie, our Alsation, was the only friend I had back then. Inseparable, we were.”

“And that’s what we’re looking for now? The place you buried Queenie?”

“Oh, no. We’re looking for where I buried that annoying little ginger kid I killed with that shovel over there.”

“Little… ginger… What?!”

“Well, she was asking too many questions. Got on my nerves, she did.”

“What sort of… oh, forget it. Let’s look some more.”

“Yes, let’s.”

 


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 221 published on this site.