The Orphans is mostly 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.
Max Matham is a self-employed freelance forensic accountant living in a quiet village in Buckinghamshire. Della Jont is a hard-nosed businesswoman who presses Max into working for her, investigating alleged financial irregularities at an orphanage in East Africa. Max soon finds that some disturbing things are going on at the orphanage, and becomes involved in a set of intriguing events involving orphans, government agencies, witch-doctors, an old university chum and a multinational pharmaceutical company.
Beginning on 10 January 2016, I shall publish The Orphans here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
The Orphans. Chapter Fifteen, scene four: Briefing Lindy.
The next morning, after Kanene had cleared breakfast away, the three of us; Sophie was clearly part of the team now; remained around the table, waiting for Lindy to appear. We engaged in small-talk, not wishing to have anything substantive interrupted by Lindy’s visit.
A short while later, there was a knock on the door. Kanene came through and announced that Lindy was waiting at the main gate. We had forgotten to let the walinzi know Lindy was coming, and they wouldn’t let him in without authorisation. I went to the gate and showed him in.
Once at the table Hannice, as his long-term boss, explained our plans.
“Miss Matham—,” he said.
“Max,” I interrupted.
“Max,” he repeated, “will formally take over the management of Knight Trading (Africa), and will be in total control of Knight Investments Tanzania. A new company, Holy Island Services—”
“Ooh! That’s like my name,” Lindy said, excitedly clapping his hands together from the wrist as he did so. Turning to Sophie, he added, parenthetically, “My real name is Lindisfarne. The island of Lindisfarne in England is called Holy Island. Sorry. Sorry. Carry on.”
“Thank you,” Hannice said, somewhat tersely. “The new company will be headed by Max, but managed on a day-to-day basis by you, Lindy. It was Max’s idea to name it after you, as its manager.”
“Ooh, Max. Thank you so much,” Lindy said effusively, “that means so much to me.”
“Quite,” Hannice continued. “This company will provide all accounting and administration services to KTA and KIT. We will offer to use it for Jaxson’s operation as well. As well as that, KIT will offer accountancy and administration support, through this new company, to start-ups that KIT funds.” Hannice paused and briefly rubbed his chin as though choosing his next words with care. “You need to go away and think about this, Lindy,” he continued. “We’re talking about a massive increase in responsibility and workload for you. You can discuss the details with Max at another time, but for now we just need to know if you think you are up to it.”
“So. Let me get this straight,” Lindy said, “I will be Max’s executive assistant for the old company and the new investment company,”
“And, on top of that, I will be in charge of accounting and admin for some other companies. Is that right?”
“So will that mean I have to hire and fire accountancy and admin staff and manage them?”
I interjected at this point. “When the workload becomes more than we can reasonably expect you to handle alone, Lindy, I would expect you, with support from me, to identify and engage suitable additional personnel.”
“I don’t need to go away and think about it, Boss, Max. I’ll do it,” he said. “I imagine it will mean a pay rise?”
“You will have a small uplift immediately, to reflect the extra work and responsibility. After that, your salary will increase by increments, depending on how well you and the company do.”
“This is going to make me an important person, isn’t it?”
I looked at Hannice and picked up on his nod, “I suppose it will, yes.”
“More important than a PA?” he suggested. I noted, with some amusement, that he had referred to his current position as PA and not Executive Assistant.
“Certainly,” I replied.
“In that case, I would like to be known as LJ, rather than Lindy. Lindy is such a junior sounding name. LJ sounds more like a manager’s name, doesn’t it? I mean, can you see business cards… I imagine I will have business cards?”
“Of course. Arranging them will be one of your first admin tasks.”
“Oh, goody. But business cards saying Lindy Aldredge, Manager won’t be anything like as impressive as LJ Aldredge, will they?”
“Why not Lindisfarne Aldredge?” I asked.
“It sounds pretentious… and I may be a lot of things and I probably am, truth be told, but I am not pretentious. Plus, I actually hate the name – it’s so not me!”
“Thank you, LJ,” Hannice said. “Back to the office with you, and start drawing up plans. I’d like to go through them with Max and yourself before I leave Africa next week. Off you go!”
“Ooh, thank you Boss. You called me LJ. Love it, love it, love it.”
And with that, he was gone. One very happy LJ.