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 nine, scene one: There may be trouble ahead.
“Can I trust you?” I asked.
“Aye, ye can trust old Pete, Sir; trust him to the ends of the Earth, ye can.”
“I know about ‘old Pete’,” I said, “but can I trust you?”
“Can I trust you?” he returned, peering at me through half-closed eyes.
I passed him one of my business cards.
“Hannice Knight, Chairman and CEO, Knight Global Trading; impressive. So what brings you here?” he asked, his affected accent and outmoded language having dropped away as soon as he saw the card.
I briefly explained about my accident and my need to live life more fully than I had so far.
“Jeff,” he said, calling the barman while simultaneously removing his hat, wig and fake beard, “can you take this bottle of coloured water back and bring me a cold beer, please? Thanks.”
Turning to me, he said, “My name is Jason Reeves. I am an investigator with the Oahu County Prosecutor’s office. The two men who were talking with you arrived on the island about three months ago. About the same time, a number of houses were burglarised and expensive jewellery and articles of precious metals were taken. That’s been going on ever since. We believe that these guys were responsible, but there have been some copy-cat crimes. The first spate was characterised by the theft of high-quality, high-value property only. Some more recent houses have had imitation and costume jewellery taken, too.”
“Perhaps they have changed their methods,” I suggested.
“I don’t think so,” Jason replied, “I think it’s more likely that they are slowing down, in the hope that the local copy-cats will step up their operations. That would make it more likely that we catch the local boys, leaving them to get away scot-free.”
“What can we do to help,” Sophie asked.
“I would rather you did nothing,” Jason replied. “These are dangerous men, and I wouldn’t want to have your lives on my conscience.”
“You think they would kill?” I asked.
“I can’t swear that they wouldn’t,” he replied.
“Would it help if we take you to the swag?” Sophie asked.
Jason laughed out loud.
“Oh, God; you Brits,” he chuckled, “I haven’t heard the word swag used like that in I don’t know how long.”
“Just staying contemporary to your faux persona.”
He calmed a little, and continued, “Sorry. Yes, it would help a lot. But I would prefer you tell us exactly where it is and let our trained divers take the risks.”
“Difficult to explain,” I said, “easier to lead your guys to it.”
“Okay, but you need to be very careful. If we see anyone there, anyone at all, even a suspicion of anyone, you two will need to disappear into the background. The department’s divers are trained in underwater combat. From what you say, if the bad guys attack you, they could damage your suit and make it impossible for you to swim. I wouldn’t want this to turn into a rescue mission.”
Early the next morning, Sophie and I went back to the same spot in our boat. We were skippered by the captain’s number two, as the captain was elsewhere for the day. Our craft was accompanied by a patrol boat from the Harbour Police, with four divers on board, and a host of cutting and rescue equipment on deck. I had brought extra comms sets so we could communicate with the police divers while underwater.
Six of us entered the water, and as we did, the patrol boat made its way to the exposed part of the wreck. Sophie and I led the way. About ten minutes into the dive, we saw tell-tale lines of bubbles emanating from a corridor we were about to enter.
“I see air bubbles in the corridor ahead,” I said.
“Police lead here. Enter the side chamber. Do not follow the corridor. Repeat. Do not follow the corridor.”
We entered the nearest side passage, allowing the police divers to go ahead into the corridor where we had seen the bubbles. I noticed that every one of them had a weapon drawn.
I heard each of the police divers, in turn, report “Clear”. The lead diver then told us it was safe to join them, so we started to move forward. As we did, Sophie called out, “Hannice!” I looked around and saw that she was being held from behind by one man, while another was moving toward me.
I called over the comm set, “Bad guys are here. They have Sophie.”
The man continued toward me and drew a hunting knife from a scabbard at his thigh. Lunging at me, he narrowly missed my upper arm. I stretched my left arm to grab at the hand holding the knife, but the movement of my shoulder in making the stretch caused my right leg to flip, which pulled me away from the point I was trying to reach and sent me tumbling backwards.
We were in a confined space, and I ended up crashing my shoulder against a bulkhead, at which he lunged again and slashed my suit in the area of my stomach. The air evacuated from the two ventral compartments, followed by a trickle of blood. He started to swipe at me again, and this time I had no protection. Without the ventral compartments, I couldn’t bend forward, either. I pushed against the bulkhead with my right hand, propelling me toward the other side, away from his knife. He turned and slashed toward my unprotected side, aiming for my kidney. A double backward flip on my shoulders bent me backwards, and his knife struck my air tank. The impact caused a vibration that echoed through to my shoulders and set my legs flapping furiously. That fired me up the bulkhead and temporarily away from my assailant. Who knew that serendipity worked under water, too?
The relief was short-lived. I was pressed against the joint between the wall and ceiling of the chamber, totally unable to move, when he came at me again. This time, I recognised him as the man who had warned me off in the quayside bar the previous evening, and I could see the vitriol in his eyes. I flipped my shoulders alternately, flapping at him with my flippers. It didn’t hurt him, but it made the water around him very unstable and caused him some inconvenience; enough to allow me to push up on the roof of the chamber, forcing myself down. His next lunge stuck his knife into the wooden pillar supporting the ceiling. In the couple of seconds it took him to free the knife, I propelled myself backwards out of the chamber and past two police divers who had come to my aid.
Just in time, when I thought I was in the most danger, the police divers had arrived and subdued my assailant.
“The other one has Sophie,” I said.
The lead police diver said, “We know. He’s gone, and he has taken her with him.”
“For God’s sake, get after him!” I yelled.
“One of my men has already surfaced and called details in. He won’t get far.”
“He’d better not,” I said, “I rely on that woman for all sorts of things.”
We surfaced together. One of the divers came onto my boat with me, while the others boarded the police patrol boat. The two boats were alongside one another, so we could all converse as we de-suited. The patrol boat crew had made a start opening the decking above the chamber where the trunk was, but had returned to a position close to my boat when the first diver had surfaced. They had reported through to shore, and a team had been dispatched to try to find Sophie and her captor. The diver on my boat helped me out of my now-damaged wetsuit, and at the insistence of his chief, backed up by Jason, accompanied me to the main hospital, so I could have some help with my injury.
As I suspected, it wasn’t a deep cut, although the doctor did say that it needed a few stitches, which a young nurse of Filipino origin applied with great skill and gentleness. Jason Reeves came in while I was being put back together.
“Don’t bother with ‘I told you so’,” I said, “we did exactly as you told us, and we were in what we thought to be a safe place when the men attacked.”
“That’s not why I’m here,” he said. “We have your attacker in custody. He says he warned you not to get involved. I knew that already because I heard him say it. He is the ringleader and the more violent one of the two. His side-kick is less dangerous, but now that he’s on his own, he’s likely to be nervous. I don’t like nervous crims; they’re unpredictable, and they can be irrational.”
“So don’t waste your time here,” I said, “get out there and find him. Sophie isn’t just my friend; she’s my PA, physiotherapist and registered carer. I need that woman.”
“We’re already on it. We have a good lead, and there is a team of officers headed out as we speak.”
“I thought you would like to know that the patrol boat crew have cut through the exposed superstructure of the wreck and recovered the… what was it your friend called it? Oh yes, swag.” He grinned. “There’ll be a substantial reward for that from the insurance companies. Could run to tens of thousands of dollars. Well done.”
“Not interested in the reward. Tell them to give it to an organisation that helps victims of crime on the island, or to this hospital, or to whatever charity needs it and can make good use of it. I don’t need it; I don’t want it. I just want Sophie back.”