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 Sixteen, scene two: Preparation.
The following day, Hannice and Sophie left for UK. I awoke with a sense of foreboding; overwhelmed by what I had taken on. Who did I think I was? What gave me the idea that I could run three companies and take responsibility for the financial wellbeing and propriety of a global empire?
The worst of it was that I knew that Lindy, on whom I would be relying for so many things, was having similar doubts. We both needed some time for reflection, but the way I had planned things left no space for that.
I called the lad into my office.
“How busy are you, Lindy?”
“Now, or generally?”
“Not busy as such,” he said, “there’s nothing much going on, except setting up for the new stuff.”
“Good. Here’s a thought,” I said, “I think I should go to London for the big meeting next month. Let’s get this Jaxson meeting over and make sure that the timetable we have for implementing whatever decisions we make is generous enough to allow for a week in London.”
“I can get a lot of my stuff done while you’re away,” he said, sounding hurt at what he felt was my suggestion that nothing would happen if I weren’t here.
“No you can’t,” I said.
“Of course I can,” he protested.
“No you can’t,” I repeated.
“Because you’ll be in London with me.”
I wasn’t sure what reaction to expect from him. I hadn’t anticipated that he would jump up and down, screaming like a girl who had just seen her BFF’s engagement ring for the first time, followed by him picking me up in a bear-hug that belied his diminutive stature and almost squeezed the stuffing out of me. Not my way of doing things at all, but I let him get way with it because… well, because he was Lindy.
“You’re okay with that, then?” I asked, once my breath had returned to me.
“I guess I’ll cope,” he said, before jumping up and down and screaming some more. He then skipped back to his own office, singing as he went, “I’m going to London, I’m going to London, Max is taking me to London, I’m going to London.”
He closed his office door with a call of “Sorry!”
I pressed the button on the espresso machine for the fourth time that morning.