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 three: Visiting time.
When Max turned up the following morning, Ayesha was sitting with me, talking about my treatment plan. Ayesha excused herself, as Max unpacked my laptop and set it all up on the desk next to my bed. “Do you want to come down here, Hannice,” she asked, “or shall I bring your laptop to you there?”
“Better on the desk,” I replied, “can’t type properly half-sitting, half-lying on the bed.”
I grabbed the frame attached to my bed and used it to haul myself down to the chair.
“Impressive, Hannice,” Max said. “How are you doing, now?”
“Had a long chat with Ayesha earlier,” I said, “convinced me the only change in my life is lack of self-propelled mobility. Arms and hands still working; brain still working; only legs not. I’m still the same person, still Hannice Knight. Stephen Hawking has coped with a lot worse for a long time, and FDR did, too. And it was permanent for both those men. Mine is hopefully temporary.”
“Attaboy, Hannice. Now, tell me about your plan; the one you were about to explain before your accident.” I had the distinct impression that Max was doing everything in her power to stop me thinking about my condition. Not really needed; I was at peace with my situation, and determined to live my life with or without a working set of lower limbs.
“Plan is to hit Jaxson with an injunction forbidding payment to orphanages for kids, forbidding collection of kids, and forbidding research using human subjects without informed consent, which effectively means excluding all children under 18.”
“That won’t be popular.”
“No,” I replied, “but it’ll force Jaxson to be more creative.” Ayesha’s words to me had hit home, and I was now using them in relation to Jaxson. I paused for a while, choosing my words with great care. “I guarantee he will, in very short order, propose ways of going forward within the terms of the injunctions. He has a lot to lose by stopping AIDS research and drug development right now.” I also had in mind the potential effects on his company’s share value of a novel approach to the problem.
Max’s face told me that the idea interested her, but I sensed some hesitancy. “I need to talk to Della,” she said, after some time.
“There, or by phone?” I asked.
“Not sure yet,” she replied, “I’d like to go there, but don’t want to leave you here on your own.”
“That was my cue. “Fits in nicely with something else I wanted to talk to you about,” I said, “Ayesha thinks it will take a long time for me to get my legs back again, if I ever do. Can’t help thinking I would be better off in Blighty than here. Papa’s HR people can get me into the private hospital the firm part-owns. That way I can get priority with treatment and physio. I’ll square it with Ayesha and Papa. Knight Trading will organise the flight; you can come as my carer. Free.” I grinned. “How’s your visa thing coming on?”
“I had a letter from the ministry just this morning. It seems I can go and collect my passport at any time. I had planned to get it later today, on my way home from the hospital.”
Suddenly, from making plans to deal with the orphans’ problems, we were occupying our minds with the details of my repatriation and treatment.