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 am publishing 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 five: Hannice’s plans.
Hannice then launched into his plans.
“As you know, old thing, I’ve been stuck behind that desk for more than twenty years. This injury has set me thinking about my life and what I want from it.
“Been hearing some things that increase the chance of walking again, but it’s still just a chance. Still a real possibility I may never get out of this blasted chair. The thought of being here, wheelchair-bound as well as desk-bound, for another two decades does not appeal. Decided we’re going to have some fun.”
“Of course. I still need physio, and young Sophie here will make sure I don’t do more than my body can take; isn’t that right, old girl?”
“You can be assured, Max,” Sophie said, “that I shall make sure that Hannice doesn’t do anything that could make his plight even worse, but,” turning to Hannice, “we can still have fun, can’t we?”
“That’s good to hear,” I said, “but what are you planning to do, and for how long? Don’t forget I have a business of my own that I’d like to get back to, someday.”
“I think you can forget that, Max,” Hannice said.
“What do you mean, forget that? You can’t just brush my needs aside so you can gratify your own.”
“Hear me out, old thing. My plan, provided you agree and support it, is to remain Chairman and CEO of Knight Global Trading and all its directly owned subsidiaries. I want to delegate the job of running it, which will include many of the powers of my office, to two people. Operational responsibility, including Marketing, HR and Admin, will go to Henk Overbock. Henk is currently Regional Director Europe and COO of our Dutch company. I plan to promote him to Global COO. Financial responsibility, including ICT, will go to the soon-to-be-appointed Global CFO: some woman by the name of Matham.
“If you go along with that; and we’ll talk about salary and conditions separately; you will be Global CFO, responsible for the financial, accountancy and ICT operations of the entire group, as well as being Regional Director for all African operations and CEO of the three companies here. Think that’ll be enough to keep you occupied? Sure you’ll still want to go back to your own outfit?”
I could still see some issues. “And if you decide, after a year or two, that you want to take the reins back?”
“Then we talk about re-assigning duties. Roles won’t change. As far as your duties go, I’m not Papa when it comes to figures, and computers hate me. I may grab small chunks from Henk and yourself, but I shall most likely stick to a high-level, strategic involvement, leaving the coal-face to others.”
“I want to sleep on this,” I said. “Meanwhile, what are your plans in the short-term?”
“Twenty years I’ve lived in this country. You know what I’ve seen of it? Dar-es-Salaam, Dodoma and Arusha, that’s what. That and one short visit to Ngorongoro years ago as part of a business meeting, but we never went into the crater, just had dinner in a restaurant on the rim. Sophie and I are going on a real safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. That’s what we were excited about when we came back on Tuesday evening. Looked at the brochures, watched some video, and we were as excited as a pair of schoolkids.”
“It’s all planned then?”
“Planned and paid for, Max. We leave here tomorrow morning, fly to Arusha and pick up a vehicle and driver. Then it’s two nights on the rim of Ngorongoro with two days in the crater, a side trip to nearby Lake Manyara, and then into the great Serengeti range for four nights. When that’s finished, we could fly from Arusha to Nairobi, then straight back to Blighty, or we can come back to Dar and go home from there. Will you need to see us before we go?”
“I won’t need to, but I’d quite like to.”
“We’ll do that then,” he said, and asked Sophie to pass the revised itinerary to the booking agent.
“Tell me what you think about my plans when we come back from safari.”
Strange to relate, I didn’t sleep quite as well that night as I had the previous one.