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 thirteen, scene one: Another long flight.
A few days later, we were on a British Airways flight to São Paulo, Brazil. From the date and destination, it was clear we were headed for the Formula One Grand Prix held there at this time each year. What I didn’t know, is what was in Sophie’s mind when she arranged it.
It was a bright, clear and sunny day when we arrived in São Paulo and transferred to our hotel. The flight was without incident, although the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was not as calm. As is the local custom, we paid the driver at the airport, before we set off.
I had never seen such traffic. Our driver, who spoke no English (why would he?), locked the doors before we set off from the airport, and I noticed that the electric window actuators didn’t work. Presumably, the driver controls all of them. A sign on the taxi proclaimed that the windows had bullet-proof glass. That told me all I needed to know about this particular city. I had no wish to be anywhere other than in a taxi, in my hotel or at the circuit, if that, indeed, was where we were going.
This was probably the most vulnerable I had felt since the accident. It hit home to me that I wouldn’t be able to escape any threatening situation without help.
“Are you sure we’re safe here, Sophie?” I asked as we wound our way through the traffic to the hotel she’d booked for us. “I’ve heard some worrying stories about this city.”
“Don’t worry, Hannice,” she replied, “I’ve arranged secure transport to and from the circuit; we’ll be safe there, and the hotel is as safe as any. I deliberately didn’t organise anything in São Paulo itself. I don’t want to risk anything bad happening to either of us.”
The driver helped me out of the taxi on our arrival at the hotel.
“Ah, Mr Knight,” the receptionist said when we introduced ourselves, “I have a message for you.”
She handed me an envelope, containing a hand-written note ‘Mr Hannice Knight. Please call Henk immediately. From Tanja. xoxox’. I smiled at the closing.
“Let’s get up to our rooms,” I said to Sophie, as she was completing the registration forms, “I have to phone Henk. No idea what it’s about, though. Look.”
Sophie smiled, too.
“Looks like Lindy’s having a softening effect on her,” I said.
“Perhaps. Only one way to find out what it’s about, though,” she said, collecting the key-cards from the receptionist.
A porter accompanied us to our rooms and deposited our luggage, in exchange for which Sophie handed him some of the local currency she had purchased at the Bureau de Change in the airport.
In heavily accented English, the porter said, “No Peso. American Dollar?”
“No Dollars,” Sophie said, “We have Pesos or British Pounds.”
“Okay. You give pounds,” he said, unenthusiastically.
Sophie took back the money she had given him and replaced it with Pound notes.
After the porter had left, she said to me, “The Pesos I gave him were worth more than double the Pounds he ended up with. That’s at the official exchange rate, anyway.”
“Perhaps the unofficial, black market economy places a different value on hard currencies than the official one does,” I suggested.
“Must be,” she said. “Shall I get Henk on the line for you?”
“Yes,” I replied, “but sound tired. We have just had a long flight, so we’re exhausted and jet-lagged.”
“Humour me; it’s just a game I like to play.”
She got through to Henk, having done a sterling job of sounding seriously exhausted, and handed me the phone. I carried on with the charade.
“Henk. Nice to talk to you, but what’s the urgency?”
“A document arrived by courier yesterday, Hannice. It was from the Circuit Court in Honolulu. Apparently, you and Mrs Deigh are required to attend court as witnesses in the prosecution of Henry James Spikolowski and John Jewson Cavendish.”
“Drat. We knew this was always likely,” I said, “what’s the date of the hearing?”
“That’s just it. It’s next Monday.”
“Next Monday?” I exploded, “It’s late Friday afternoon already. We’ll need to leave on Sunday morning if we’re going to make it.”
“Thanks, Henk. Leave it with me. Can you scan and email the document to me, please?”
“As good as done, Boss,” Henk said.
I put the phone down. “Did you get that, Sophie?”
“I did. I guess we’re not going to see the Grand Prix. I didn’t get tickets for the qualifying sessions, so it looks like you won’t get to see your hero.”
“Who was this hero of mine, by the way?”
“I suppose I might as well tell you now. I thought meeting Frank Williams in the flesh would give you another example of how to make a great life in a wheelchair.”
“He’s certainly an example to me. I’m not sure I’d call him a hero, though.”
“Would you have come if I’d said you could meet someone quite interesting?”
“Probably not. Can we get Jason Reeves on the line? What’s the time in Honolulu now?” I asked.
“It’s 4.30pm here, so it’s… 8.30am there,” Sophie replied.
“Give him an hour or so. We’ll call him after we’ve freshened up and had a bite to eat.”
This hotel was used a lot by visitors to the city for the motor racing. Whether it was the permanent decor or specially done for the race weekend, I couldn’t say, but all the pictures on the walls of the restaurants were motor racing scenes, starting with a painting of local boy Emerson Fittipaldi in a Lotus-Ford, winning the first Formula One Grand Prix held at Interlagos in 1973. Next to it was a painting of another local boy, Carlos Pace in his Brabham, leading Fittipaldi over the line the following year. Every winning driver since then is pictured, right up to Lewis Hamilton’s victorious drive in 2016 in a Mercedes.
After a good meal, we made our way back up to our rooms. I called Jason Reeves.
“Do I have the honour of addressing Master Mariner Peter J Gurney?” I asked.
“Hello, Mr Knight. Do you have any idea how much I regret using that pseudonym? What can I do for you?”
“Sophie and I have been summoned as witnesses on Monday. We’ll be catching tonight’s flight from here, arriving Honolulu International on American flight 123 at 3.34 your time tomorrow afternoon. Can you get us into the Royal Hawaiian for a few nights, and have us picked up at the airport, please? I’d also appreciate an update briefing from you before the hearing.”
“Of course, consider it organised,” he replied. “I had heard that they were going to call you. Can’t for the life of me see why; your depositions are good and they were agreed by the defence. I can only guess they’ve come up with something new that they think they can use to refute part of your evidence. I’ll talk to the prosecutor before you arrive, see what I can find out.”
“Thanks, Jason. I’ll look forward to seeing you again.”
“You know what?” he said, “On second thoughts, I’ll pick you up from the airport myself. I can use the Department’s disabled transport. I know you can manage in a regular sedan, but this’ll be easier. Noelani, my wife, will cope without me for one Saturday afternoon – or I may bring her with me, for the ride. I’m sure she’d love to meet you both.”
“Noelani; is that a traditional Hawaiian name?” I asked.
“It is. It means Beautiful girl from heaven.”
“I can’t wait to meet her.”