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 Four, scene three: Memo.
Shortly after Sophie and my staff had settled me into Knight Towers, I had a call from Papa’s chief carer, telling me that the old man wanted to talk to me urgently.
The unit in which Papa was being looked after was one that he had established, many years before, close to Knight Towers. Sophie suggested we should walk there, and I should use it as practice propelling the wheelchair myself, for part of the journey at least.
“Wouldn’t it be easier and quicker to use an electric chair, or even a mobility scooter?” I asked.
“Yes, it would, Hannice, but if you use one of them, I’ll be the only one getting any exercise; and I’m not the one who needs it.”
She was right, of course. I used my self-propelling wheelchair, a lightweight folding model that by Dr Harry’s team had customised to fit my dimensions.
When I arrived at Papa’s room, it was clear that his time was short. He motioned to me to come close to his bed, and started speaking; his once-powerful voice had become barely a whisper.
“I can’t do this any more Hannice,” he said, “However long I have left, I don’t have the energy to run Knight Global, and I don’t want to leave it in hired hands. This is my family business, and I need my family at the helm. You’re the only family I have, Hannice, so you need to run it; if not in every detail, at least you should make all the major decisions. Hopkins has a signed and witnessed document for you. It hands total control of the group to you, effective immediately. Tell me you’ll do it, then please leave me to rest.”
“Of course I’ll do it, Papa. Now I’m out of hospital, I can come and see you every day, too.”
“I’d like that, but I need to rest now.”
Papa’s retainer, Hopkins, handed me the document, which I decided to read later. I spoke to Papa’s chief of medicine.
“He looks weak,” I said.
“He is, Hannice,” she replied. “It’s impossible to say how long he’ll hang on, but I’d be surprised if he goes beyond a couple of weeks.”
“Don’t let him suffer,” I said.
“Understood,” she replied and went off to continue her rounds.
On the way home, I told Sophie about my conversations.
“What do you suppose she meant by ‘understood’?” Sophie asked.
“I know exactly what she meant,” I replied. “She understood that I don’t want Papa to suffer, and she will make sure he doesn’t.”
“Just that,” I said, with finality.
The document was long, technical, and written in a dialect of legalese which I found harder than Kiswahili to decipher. However, its meaning was clear. I opened my laptop and composed an email.
Addressed to the directors and senior managers of Knight Global Trading, it said:
Please be informed that, effective from the date of this email, Mr Maurice Knight has stepped down from his position as Chairman and CEO of Knight Global Trading and its associated and subsidiary companies. As his only heir, I have been given the awesome responsibility of stepping into this particular pair of shoes.
A formal notice will be issued in due course, but for the moment, it’s business as normal and I hope to enjoy the same level of support that you have always given to my father.
As CEO of KIT, Max was on the list of recipients of this email and, not unexpectedly, video-called me shortly after receiving it.
“Should I congratulate or commiserate, Hannice?” she asked.
“Bit of both,” I said, “What it means though, is that I can now start putting some of my plans into action. How are things your end?”
“Getting ready to talk turkey with TanzCap. We’re planning a meeting for the middle of next week.”
“Email me what you have, and we’ll talk about strategy. Quite looking forward to this,” I said, rubbing my hands together.
Max called me again the next day.
“I have valuations for JPT. As a going concern, the opinion given is fifteen to twenty billion shillings; if it loses its licence, the figure is expected to be between six and eight billions, depending on the age and condition of the lab equipment and the status of any current patent applications. Half of that gives us, say, eight or three billions.”
“Let’s start by offering four. When they baulk at it; which they will; we threaten to walk away from the deal, leaving them lucky to realise three billions. Get Paul on board with that first, but don’t let him in on our final figure.”
“Which is?” she asked.
“As far as anyone is concerned, five and a half. Between the two of us, Max, I’d be fairly relaxed about going up to six and a half. That’s where the red line is, though.”
“Understood. I have some ideas for KIT that I’d like to discuss with you while you’re here, too, Hannice. You might want to leave a couple of days available for that; it’s a new direction for both of us, and we need to be sure we’re both comfortable with the way I’m planning to run the company.”
“I’ll arrive late on Monday, Max. I want to relax on Tuesday; we’ll meet TanzCap Wednesday, then you and I can have Thursday and Friday to discuss what you want to do here. I’ll also want to talk to you about what I want to do with myself, inside and outside the business.”