Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It, too, is partly 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.
Hannice Knight had run the African operation of his father’s global business for many years, when a freak accident at home left him unable to walk. Together with physiotherapist Sophie Deigh, he tries to bring into his life the excitement and adventure he missed in his formative years, due to the need to be tied to the business.
A number of adventures and activities follow including scuba-diving, sky-diving, power-boating and camping, and a half-brother he never knew about; but even these can’t lift Hannice’s spirits.
What, or who can? Will the developing closeness between Hannice and Sophie come to anything, and what of the rumoured advances in medical technology?
Beginning on 12 February 2017, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
Knight & Deigh. Chapter Two, scene one: Accident.
I spent a lot of Monday trying to see what I could find out about what Jaxson was up to. Never known so many dead-ends. No wonder old Max was as frustrated as she was. Later, at dinner, she updated me on her meeting. Just when we thought we had a handle on what was going on, it looked like one of the directors of TanzCap, Della’s local company, had an agenda that was not in line with the rest of the board’s. Didn’t know how she was going to deal with that one.
During the course of the evening, I had a phone call from none other than Paul Jaxson himself, looking for a meeting with Max. I suggested he come to Nocturne at nine the following morning.
He turned up a few minutes early. Kanene showed him through to the library, where we’d decided to have the meeting. Max and I entered on the dot of nine o’clock. Without the usual pleasantries; Paul Jaxson strikes me as being more of a business machine than a man; we got straight down to it.
“Before we start, Paul,” Max said, “I’d like my friend Hannice Knight to sit in on this meeting. Hannice heads up Knight Global Trading’s Africa operations but has no direct agenda in relation to the matters we are discussing. I would value his impartial opinion from time to time. Are you okay with that?”
“Certainly,” Paul replied. “Pleased to meet you, Hannice. I am Paul Jaxson, owner of Jaxson Pharmaceuticals.”
“Quite,” I responded.
“I wanted to talk to you, Max, because I am hearing rumours that TanzCap wants to pull out of our little arrangement. Is there any basis to these?”
“There certainly is, Paul,” she said, “You’re probably aware that I’m here as a proxy for Della Jont, whom I think you know. Della has specifically asked me to withdraw TanzCap from JPT. If I can, I’d like to do it with minimal disruption to either business, but do it I must. Would you be interested in acquiring the TanzCap shareholding, and if so, at what price?”
Paul shuffled in his chair and his expression hardened. “We originally involved TanzCap because Jaxson Pharmaceutical didn’t want to bear the whole risk of this venture, and because we thought it important that there should be an African interest in the business. In fact, the terms of the licence granted by the Tanzanian authorities recognised this and stipulated that there had to be a local shareholding of not less than 51%. JPI has a company registered and domiciled in Tanzania, but we couldn’t put our hands on our hearts and say we are a local company.”
“And TanzCap is?” I asked.
“Even so,” he said, looking at me.
I had looked at Jaxson’s local company as a possible investment for me. Word was, they were moving forward rather well in their search for a better way of dealing with HIV than the then current batch of anti-retroviral drugs. If they could realise that ambition, the impact on their share value could be colossal. The difficulty, of course, was this business of what seemed to be buying orphans for their research boffins to experiment on.
“Knight Global Trading could possibly be interested in making a bid,” I interjected, “if we can resolve this business with the orphans.” Max looked at me with raised eyebrows.
“Let’s take that off-line, Hannice,” Paul replied.
“I think not, Paul,” I said, “this question of the orphans is fundamental to my interest—”
“As well as being the main stumbling block to Della’s involvement,” Max added.
“Quite so. What do you say, Paul?”
“Only what I’ve said before. We have to test these drugs we’re developing, and we need HIV-positive subjects to trial them on. Most of these kids are likely to die at an early age without intervention. Some of them we can hope to help, if only by way of slowing the progress of their disease.”
There was a knock on the door.
“Come on in, Kanene,” I said. My house-girl entered with coffee, tea and biscuits.
As she left the room, I stood and turned to Paul, “I’ve been toying with some ideas that might help here. They’re on my laptop upstairs. Let me go and fetch it.” I left the room and climbed the stairs. The next thing I knew, I was at the bottom of the stairs again, in a great deal of pain. Max and Paul came running from the library.
“What happened, Hannice?” Max asked when she arrived, her face etched with worry.
“Fell down the stairs,” I said, the pain making even speech difficult, “Dashed if I know how. Nothing to trip over. Can’t feel my legs now. Call an ambulance, Max old chum, will you?”
I must have passed out then. The next thing I remember is someone putting me on a stretcher and tying me down, then transporting me to hospital in a chopper. Max, bless her, came along with me.