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 ten, scene one: Conversation with Max.
After the hot, sunny conditions of the past few weeks in Hawaii, London was cold, damp and grey. Nonetheless, it was home, and we were looking forward to a brief spell of relative calm. I had long been craving excitement, but I’m not sure that what we found in Hawaii was the kind of excitement I had in mind.
By the time we had cleared the airport and made our way to the concourse, Bly was waiting with the limo and took us directly to Knight Towers. We arrived there at about three in the afternoon, too late to see Dr Harry. I called his office and arranged to call in at 10 o’clock the next morning.
Sophie wanted to do some shopping, so I told Bly to take her wherever she wanted to go, and settled down for an hour or so of solitude.
I picked up the phone and dialled the number I knew so well. Lindy answered.
“Hi, Boss,” he said, “I love this new phone system; it has CLI, so I know who is calling, and can answer appropriately. That way I know when I should be LJ and when I can be Lindy.”
“Max there?” I asked.
“Sure, Boss. Putting you through.”
“Hannice. How was Hawaii?”
“I’ll tell you later. Meanwhile, there’s something I want to talk through with you, and I don’t know how much time I have.”
“My God, Hannice, what’s happened?”
“No, nothing like that, Max. Sophie is out for a while, and I don’t know quite when she’ll be back.”
“And this somehow concerns her?”
“Yes, it does. Had a bit of a fright in Hawaii. Shan’t go into it now; long story. Suffice to say that, like you, I’m a bit of a loner, yah?”
“I prefer self-sufficient or self-contained, but yes, I know what you mean.”
“Since I met your Sophie…”
“Not my Sophie now, Hannice.”
“Okay; since I met Sophie, I have come to rely on her a lot: for physio, for help with other needs, as a very capable PA and, yes, as a friend.”
“She’s very good at all those things, and she is a person it’s alarmingly easy to depend on, even to the point of taking her presence for granted. I know, I’ve been there.”
“Thing is, though, thought I was going to lose her. Like I say, I’ll explain it later, but I seriously thought there was a risk she wouldn’t be around anymore.”
“Not a nice thought.”
“Indeed. Trouble is, when I thought that, I didn’t immediately worry about physio, office help or anything like that. I was worried about losing her, not just her services.”
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying, Hannice?”
“I think I probably am, old thing. Over the past weeks, I’ve found myself giving serious consideration to placing another person close to the centre of my life; to thinking of another person’s needs as equivalent, or even as equal to my own. It’s a new experience for me, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. The worst of it was, when I was feeling that, there was no-one I could talk to about it; no-one I wanted to talk to about it. Except, perhaps, Sophie. Then I thought of you, Max. You know me, you know Sophie, and you have the best analytical mind I know. And you’re a woman.”
“Well spotted, Hannice, but what difference does that make?”
“Women are supposed to understand emotions. Men are meant to these days, too, but I’m damned if I can.”
“You want me to tell you how to feel?”
“Not at all. I’m hoping you can interpret what’s going on; not to tell me what I should be feeling, but perhaps to help me understand what I am feeling. But above all, until I come to terms with this, it would be highly inappropriate to breathe a word of it to Sophie.”
“I certainly agree with you on that. She is still trying to deal with the loss of her husband, the love of her life and her soul mate. I won’t stand by and watch her get hurt, and I certainly won’t do anything that could result in her being hurt.”
“So what do you think; honestly?”
“I think this accident, and your need to rely on someone else, albeit to a limited extent, is telling you that Donne was right and that it applies even to you.”
“No man is an island, eh?”
“Precisely. I can’t advise you on anything; I think you know what is going on with you and you just have to accept it; no, not accept, embrace it as a part of the reality of being who you are. I shall always be here for you, Hannice, if you need a bouncing-board, much as I used you when I first came to Dar. But as you said to me then, I can’t offer answers, or even validate your answers. I do believe, though, that you will work out the answers that are right for you.”
She was right, of course. This was something only I could work out, but I was damned if I knew how.
Just then, I heard the limo pull up by the front door. Sophie came bounding in, laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“I just realised what I did,” she said, “I bumped into Mrs Cooper in the supermarket, and I told her that I thought we deserved a special dinner, after our experiences. Without really realising it, we’ve just bought all the ingredients for Hawaiian chicken.”
“Well,” I said, joining in the laughter, “we didn’t have it in Hawaii, so why not here? How are we for Kahlua?”
“I think we have a bottle; we have most things,” she said,still laughing.