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 twelve, scene four: Test results.
The DNA test results arrived. According to the official paperwork, ‘analysis of the DNA samples provided by Mr Hannice Knight (subject A) and Mr Stephen Parker (subject B) does not exclude the likelihood that the two subjects have the same biological father’.
“Where does that leave us?” I asked Joe Green when I called into his office.
“It doesn’t really change much,” he replied. “The will was properly prepared, witnessed, executed and distributed. A court might well take pity on him, but there is no legal basis on which a judge would make an award against you, as the main beneficiary of your father’s will. That is according to the family law expert I consulted.”
“So, that’s it then?”
“In theory, yes. However, Mr Parker could conceivably raise some trouble in a manner that could reflect badly on your reputation and that of Knight Global Trading. To prevent that, I suggest we call him in and negotiate an offer that will appease and satisfy him.”
“Not giving the blighter half of my estate!” I objected.
“Heavens above, no, Mr Knight. I was thinking of offering him maybe a quarter of a million, and perhaps let him talk us up to a half. That way, he’ll end up with a lot of money, and he’ll think he has scored a victory by making us double our offer.”
“Very shrewd, Mr Green. Very shrewd,” I said. “I need to appoint a retained counsel for Knight Global, now that your father has retired from the firm. You may have just talked yourself into that position.”
“So you agree with my suggestion, do you Mr Knight?” he asked.
“I do, Mr Green. I most certainly do.”
“Good. Mr Stephen Parker will be here in an hour.”
“That keeps happening to me,” I complained.
“What does, Sir?”
“People assume my decision and act on it before I’ve had a chance to make it.”
“I’m sorry, Sir. I felt certain you would agree with my suggestion, so much so that I took the liberty of arranging it. Is that an annoyance to you, Mr Knight? Did I do the wrong thing?”
“No,” I responded in a drawn-out way, “I just need to learn to be less predictable.”
An hour later Joe Green’s intercom buzzed, and his secretary announced that Stephen Parker had arrived.
“Show him in,” he said.
The man who entered looked to be in his late forties or maybe his early fifties; in either event, a few years older than I, which would fit the profile.
As he approached us, he looked; I don’t know; mean, hard, determined. As soon as he saw I was in a wheelchair, his attitude seemed to soften. I decided to play on that and used the odd pained expression while talking to him.
Joe Green started the conversation, “What exactly are you looking for here, Mr Parker.”
The way he was squirming in his chair suggested strongly to me that, despite the determined, business-like persona he projected, he was not at all comfortable with this meeting. I imagined that he had been put up to it by someone.
“I – I just want justice,” he said. “I am as much his son as Mr Knight here, and it’s not right that he should have left me out of his will completely.”
“Two things I need to tell you, Mr Parker. Firstly, the DNA test results only go as far as to say that it is likely that Mr Knight and you share the same father, it is not stated as an absolute, a certainty. Secondly, it is entirely up to the testator what he puts in his will. Provided he is of sound mind when drafting the will, and provided there is no suggestion that the document was prepared under duress or under any undue influence, it is pretty well water-tight. Are you making any such suggestion?”
“I’m just suggesting that he has taken no interest in me since the day I was born,” he said, “I have never even been acknowledged by him.”
“What is your mother’s attitude to your father’s position vis-à-vis yourself?” Mr Green asked.
“Mother passed away fifteen years ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, feeling little of the sympathy my tone suggested, “What had been her attitude during her lifetime?”
Stephen Parker turned to me with deep sadness in his eyes. “She never spoke of him, never mentioned his name and forbade me to ask about him,” he said. “I had to do a lot of work after her death, just to find out who my father was.”
“And now you want a half share of his estate, purely on the basis of a statistical probability?” I asked. Joe looked at me askance when I asked that question. It may have been more confrontational than he had planned to be at this stage.
Again, the sad, almost downcast look in Stephen’s eyes. “I just want to be acknowledged. My wife says I am entitled to loads; you are a very rich man, Mr Knight, and she says you can afford it; but I just want to have a sense of belonging somewhere. My mother was an only child, estranged from her family after having me. Being without a father left me totally alone, especially after mother died.”
I looked toward Joe Green. He looked back and nodded.
“Let me be honest with you, Stephen,” I said. “Is it alright if I call you by your given name?”
“Good. And I want you to call me Hannice. What do you do by way of a profession?”
“Why do you want to know?” he asked, guardedly.
“Just answer him,” Joe said quietly, “and trust that Mr Knight has a good reason for asking.”
“I was head of Transport and Logistics for a large shipping company. They just recently closed down their UK operation, and I was made redundant. I haven’t yet been able to find a suitable position elsewhere.”
“As department head, you would have received a handsome redundancy settlement, I imagine?”
“It wasn’t too bad. Won’t last forever, though.”
I handed him my card. “Here’s what we’ll do,” I said, “I will work on the assumption that you are, indeed, what you claim to be: the half-brother I never knew I had. I will give you, immediately, two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, from my own money, as an acknowledgement of your status and as a welcome to the family. In addition, I want you to go along to my head office, the address on the card, and ask to see Henk Overbock, my Chief Operating Officer, and Emily Russell, my head of HR. I shall brief them this evening, and they will interview you for the currently vacant position of Head of Logistics. If they think you’re the best man for the job, they will offer it to you. I can’t guarantee anything, though. – it has to be Henk’s decision; I don’t interfere in these things. I am doing all I can do – making the introduction. the rest is down to him — and you.”