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 four: Deposition.
The date had arrived for us to give our depositions. Jason told us that they had already received those of the victims of the burglaries.
“We want to go after these guys for more than just burglaries,” he said. “The courts here will likely give three to five for burglary, maybe five to seven for robbery. However, if we can nail them for aggravated assault and kidnapping we can expect ten to twenty.”
“I don’t know much about American jurisprudence,” I said, “but we can attest to both of those charges.”
“Henry James Spikolowski, known as Spike and John Jewson Cavendish, known as JJ, identified by you from their mug-shots, arrived in Honolulu from LA six weeks ago. The day after they arrived, the burglaries started. In all but one of the burglaries, the residents were not awakened, but one man disturbed them and spent two days in hospital for his trouble; stab wound to his stomach.”
“I can guess who did that,” I said.
“And you’d be right. The victim identified them from the photos, too, and nailed Spike as the guy who knifed him.”
“So, what’s the procedure now, Jason?” I asked.
“Okay. I am going to depose you because it is likely that you won’t be available to attend the trial. The deposition will take the form of a question and answer session, exactly as it would happen in court. You will be under oath and the session will be recorded. Like in court, the defendants’ attorney will be here and will be permitted to cross-examine you. The defendants will not be present. Make no mistake, though; the cross will be every bit as harsh as if you were in court in front of the judge and jury, except that neither the defence attorney nor my boss, the County Prosecutor, will be playing to the jury.”
“Wow!” was all Sophie could say.
“Wow, indeed,” Jason replied, “this is where you find out whether the courtroom dramas you’ve seen on the TV are anything like real life.”
Jason’s boss and the defence attorney entered the room together, chatting as though they were old pals. They took their places opposite each other at the table, and I noticed their demeanour change immediately. No more were they friends, they were now on opposite sides of a most adversarial coin.
Sophie and I were sworn in, and the County Prosecutor introduced himself and the defence attorney and outlined the purpose of the deposition.
“Are we all in accord to proceed with this deposition?” he asked.
“The defence is in accord,” Mr Bateman, the defence attorney, responded.
“Let us start with the allegation of aggravated assault. Can you, Mr Knight, tell us, in your own words, what happened that morning and what led up to it?”
I went through the whole story, from our first discovery of the chest right up to the point at which the police divers apprehended my assailant. Once I had finished, the prosecutor had me clarify a few points, then Mr Bateman started his cross-examination.
“Mr Knight. Are we being asked to believe that you, a man who is registered disabled, who has no use of his legs, are able to negotiate the intricate passages of a submerged wreck?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Could you explain how?” he asked, with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
“Technology,” I replied, and explained the fundaments of the wetsuits. “Would you like to see my diving certificate and my wreck specialist diving certificate?”
“I would,” he said. I handed them to him. He showed them to the Prosecutor, who confirmed their validity in the State of Hawaii.
“Very well,” he said, returning them to me, “remind me, what were you doing in that particular wreck on that particular day?”
“We had chanced to find in the wreck, on the previous day, a chest containing valuables that were too recent in design to have sunk with the ship.”
“Much of the jewellery appeared to be of designs that are popular now, designs that differ markedly from the fashion of the nineteenth century when the vessel sank.”
“Mrs Deigh and I dined in a quayside bar that evening and spoke a little about a rumour we had heard of treasure hidden in wrecks, hoping that someone would overhear and offer an explanation.”
“Why did you do that?”
“Idle curiosity. At the time, at least. But when a man from an adjacent table warned me off, my interest was piqued. I didn’t mention that we had found anything, merely that we had heard a rumour of treasure hidden in a wreck. I subsequently spoke with Investigator Reeves and offered to lead his team to the trunk.”
“And when you led the police there, did you foresee that there may have been danger to you?”
“We acknowledged that as a possibility. We had agreed with the police team that we would, at the first sign of trouble, secrete ourselves in a suitable place and leave the professionals to deal with it.”
“Very wise. But it didn’t work out, did it?”
“No. The two men were obviously waiting for us.”
“Apparently. They attacked as we were leaving the chamber.”
“Would it not be correct to suggest, Mr Knight, that you and Mrs Deigh cornered them in that small chamber and that they, in fear if not of their lives, at least of their liberty, had no option but to defend themselves?”
“It would not,” I replied.
“Can you elaborate on that?”
“I can. We were trying to leave the chamber. We had no idea that we were not alone there. Had they let us leave, they could have left the vessel and neither we nor the police would have had any indication of their presence. If they were in fear for their lives or their liberty, it wasn’t from us.”
“Turning now to the altercation, during which you sustained certain injuries. This was not a one-sided fight, was it?”
“That depends on what you mean by one-sided. Two of us were involved, that’s true. He wielded the knife and I bled.”
“Are you suggesting that you didn’t fight back?”
“I had nothing to fight back with. I wasn’t carrying any weapon. On top of which, although the special wetsuit I wear allows me to navigate underwater, it does not give me the range of movement or the agility of an able-bodied diver. It is not equipped for fighting, and I need to have my dive-buddy close by to help with situations that are beyond my ability to handle, given the limited range of movement the suit affords me.”
“No further questions.”
That was the end of my cross-examination. Sophie had a somewhat easier time of it, even though the offence of kidnapping to which she was attesting, carried a greater potential penalty than that of aggravated assault. Perhaps her statement, that she was grabbed from behind and dragged out, gave Mr Bateman less scope for the creative rhetoric that he seemed to enjoy so much.
The two attorneys left, once more old pals, as though the face-off of the last hour had never happened.
“I thought that went well,” Jason said.
“That Rottweiler was trying to tear me to pieces,” I complained, “he was like a dog with a bone.”
“That’s his job,” Jason explained, “he has to give his clients the most robust defence he can, whatever his personal feelings about their innocence or otherwise. Off duty, he’s a terrific guy. You saw how he was with my boss.”
“I don’t know how people can turn it on and off just like that,” Sophie said, “I think I would need some time to adjust my mood.”
“Years of practice. I have to admit, though, I couldn’t do it. When I’m in uniform, I’m a cop. When I’m not, I’m a cop out of uniform. I can’t stop thinking like a cop, just because I’m not actually on duty.”
We left the Prosecutor’s office and had a last drive around the island before preparing for our return to London. We were booked on the Alaska Airways/British Airways flight leaving Honolulu at 8.30 am and, after a stop in Seattle of less than two hours, reaching London at 11.30 am; a total journey time of 17 hours – by far the shortest journey time available.