Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It begins in Tanzania as I remember it 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 fifteen, scene one: Pre-op.
Sophie flew to Tanzania on the Monday, after she had made sure I was settled in hospital. They had put me in a private room, kitted out as it had been for my prior stay: desk with power, telephone and network points, and a device to make it easier for me to move between bed and desk.
As soon as Sophie had gone, I made a video call to Max.
“How are things with you, Max?” I asked.
“Very well. Between us, Lindy and I are knocking the whole thing into shape. I had good sessions with Idris in Durban and Sunday in Lagos. They will be coming across here later, with their department heads, for a regional conference. I think I can roll out the KIT and HIS concept continent-wide.”
“Sounds like I made a good choice for Regional Director.”
“I don’t know about that, but we’re not doing too badly. That’s not why you called, though, is it?”
“No. You know that Sophie is on her way to see you?”
“I think she needs some time away from me. I told you that I am regarding her as much more than an employee; more than a friend, even. It scares me a little, Max. Throughout my adult life, I’ve never had an emotional involvement beyond that with Rex and Prince. How are they, by the way?”
“They’re fine. Spend more of their time with the walinzi than in the house. I’m not unhappy with that; they seem happy, and the walinzi are glad of them.”
“As I was saying, I’m a little scared of this; don’t really know how to deal with it. I can’t even say for sure that my feelings for her aren’t the result of some sort of patient/nurse dependency thing. I don’t think they are, but I can’t put my hand on my heart and swear that they’re not. The other trouble is, I fancy Sophie is harbouring feelings for me, too. Don’t mind that; don’t mind it at all, but not if it’s rebound, not if I’m just her substitute for Dave.”
“What do you want me to do, Hannice?”
“Give her room to think; room to explore her feelings. Maybe draw her on… well, you know her better than I do.”
“You’ve known her a lot longer than I have, and you know her history better than I do; I only know what you’ve told me.”
“Leave it with me, Hannice. I shall be the very soul of discretion and appropriateness.”
“Good egg. Knew I could rely on old Max.”
I had to spend a week in the hospital before the operation. They did a lot of tests. I had blood taken, lumbar punches for spinal fluids and bone marrow samples; all painful procedures, but apparently necessary. I was also subjected to extra physio to assess my muscle tone and bone strength in preparation for the operation.
Between the tests, I was free to make use of the facilities that Dr Harry had arranged for me in my room; desk, network points and telephone; and I used these to good effect to keep on top of what was being done around the regions. Max certainly had a good handle on what she wanted to do with Africa, and I threw her ideas out as conversation starters to Geoff King in Canberra, Carolina Barros in Rio, Scott Enoch in Baltimore and Danny Cho in Singapore.
None of them exuded enthusiasm, but none of them ruled the ideas out of court, either. A thought occurred to me, which I raised with Max during our next video call.
“I’ve put the basics of your ideas in front of Geoff, Carolina, Scott and Danny. None of them jumped up and down with excitement, I’m afraid. However, let me float an idea with you,” I said.
“Don’t react. Just listen, then take the idea away and sleep on it. I’ll take your reaction in our next talk.”
“Don’t leave me hanging here, Hannice; let me have it.”
“Okay. We grow KIT to a global entity, under your control. It is based here in Knight Towers, with its own structure, separate from KGT, and has its own regional structure; if you think it appropriate. That’s it. Meanwhile, how is Sophie doing?”
“She is doing fine, Hannice, and it really is great to see her again. Working for you has been good for her; she seems really well. She has told me a few things that it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to pass on to you, as I won’t pass on to her some of the things you told me. Suffice to say, Boss, you were right in one respect, but your fears are unfounded.”
If that meant what I took it to mean, then it had suddenly become more important than ever, and more urgent, that my feelings and motivations be exposed to the light of day and recognised for what they were; and what they were not.
That had given me plenty to think about, and I’m afraid that I put all other considerations aside while I worked on this. I began writing lists of what I thought my feelings for Sophie were, what they represented and how I felt about them. This really was foreign soil for me. Feelings, romantic and emotional entanglements; these were things that plagued other people; things that people with less well-ordered, less organised lives had to deal with; not the stuff of people like me, with lives whose every aspect was compartmentalised, categorised and, yes, ordered.
I started my first list:
- She is kind
- She is efficient
- She is calm
- She is calming
- She is caring and considerate
- She is loving
- I think I love her
The second and subsequent lists all started and ran in similar vein, and all ended the same. I abandoned this line of analysis, as it didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. What else could I do, though? I needed to be clear about my feelings.
I really was distracted by all this. There was no point trying to concentrate on anything to do with my business. This kept getting in the way.
During his next visit, I spoke to Dr Harry about it.
“Can I speak to you, man to man, about something that’s bothering me?”
“Has it to do with your relationship with Mrs Deigh?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“It’s clear to me, Hannice, that you have very deep feelings for her. It is also clear to me that she has deep feelings for you, and that you are both trying hard to hide, if not to deny those feelings. Would I be right in thinking that you are trying, in your detached, businesslike fashion, to analyse and understand what you are feeling?”
“That’s about the long and short of it.”
“Why are you fighting this, Hannice?”
“I suppose because I don’t know how to deal with it. It isn’t responding to normal analysis. Look at these lists,” I said, handing him my lists, “what are they supposed to mean?”
Harry read them and chuckled. “Do you really have to ask me that, Hannice? It’s obvious to me that you love the woman. My advice to you is to hold on to her with both hands. It strikes me that if you do, she will return the favour many-fold.”
“Thanks, Doc; I’ll think about what you’ve said.”
“Can we get on with preparing for this operation, now?”