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 two: Sophie is back.
Hospital rules dictate that, because I am listed on their database as disabled, I can only be discharged to the custody of a suitably qualified carer. Sophie was missing, so the doctors at the hospital wouldn’t discharge me. I checked with Jason every hour or so, probably annoying him intensely, but by 8 pm there was still no word of Sophie. I had no choice but to instruct the hospital’s physiotherapist on the fundamentals of my régime, so he could help me with it. Happily, apart from the physio, I was approaching self-sufficiency in most of my day-to-day needs, so didn’t need constant attention.
The hospital physio made a decent fist of my routines, and I have to admit that I felt better after he had finished. Indeed, the combination of his work, the water activity and having, for the first time in my life, solved a real live mystery left me feeling rather good. At least, it would have done, had I not been worried silly about Sophie.
Just after 10 pm, the doctor came in and told me that Sophie had been found and her captor taken into custody.
“How is Sophie?” I asked.
“We think she’s pretty much okay,” he said, “she has a few superficial cuts and bruises, caused by being manhandled out of the wreck, and she has taken a blow to the back of her head, which we are looking at now. It’s not serious, nothing broken and no lasting damage that we can see, but we’re checking her for signs of a concussion; just as a precaution.”
“Anything… else?” I asked.
“I know what you’re thinking, and no; there is no suggestion of any sexual assault. Mrs Deigh is alert and in good spirits and there’s no reason she shouldn’t have a visitor right now. Would you like me to take you through to see her?” he asked.
“No, I wouldn’t like you to take me to see Sophie,” I replied tersely, “I would like to get into my wheelchair, and take myself to see her. Just lead the way.”
“Yeah; it’s going to be easy propelling your wheelchair with one arm in a sling, isn’t it?”
“I don’t have one arm in a sling,” I responded.
“You’re about to have. That shoulder you hit is going to be seriously troublesome if you don’t rest it for at least twenty-four hours.”
The doctor immobilised my right shoulder, by placing that arm in a tight sling, and wheeled me to the room where Sophie was. I was not sure what to expect in there. I found her sitting up in bed, chatting with a nurse. Both her arms were bruised from elbow to wrist, and she had a bandage covering much of the top of her head.
“What has that bastard done to you?” I asked.
“Oh, it was dreadful, Hannice,” she said, “I was just about to follow you out of the chamber when I felt hands grabbing at my arms from behind. I tried to break free, but he was too strong for me.”
Sophie paused for a while, but I sensed she needed to talk it out, so I remained silent.
“Then I saw you being attacked by the other man,” she continued, “but I couldn’t see too much because the bloke holding me started dragging me out of the chamber. He pulled me backwards, all the way out of the wreck, bashing me against a load of bulkheads and doorways. At one point I hit my head on a pillar, so hard that I thought I might have lost consciousness, but I somehow didn’t. I could see that I was hurt by the blood trail coming from my arms and legs, where I had hit them against bits of the wreck. He hauled me up to the surface, then into a speedboat being driven by our captain. He blindfolded me then, so I had no idea where we were going. He didn’t take the blindfold off until after he had tied me to a chair in a dingy cellar, where the police eventually found me. Oh, Hannice, I’m so sorry. I let you down. I was so afraid, and there was nothing I could do.”
She started weeping.
“Why on Earth would you be sorry?” I asked, “Of course you haven’t let me down; there was nothing you could have done. What I want to know, is what the blackguard did to you when he had you in that dungeon.”
“Sorry,” the doctor interrupted, “what’s a blaggered?”
“Hannice likes to use old-fashioned English,” she said, calmer now. “It just means a bad man. Anyway, he did nothing, Hannice, I promise you. He just sat in the corner saying, ‘Where’s Spike?’ over and over again. He got up after about an hour and started to pace around, obviously nervous, clearly having no clue what he should be doing. This Spike was unquestionably the brains of the operation, and the driver of the whole thing. This other fellow was just doing what he had been told to do. After quite a long time, there was a knock on the cellar door, which he thought was Spike. He shouted, ‘Coming’ and ran to open the door. When he did, he was immediately grabbed by two burly policemen and handcuffed.”
“What of our Capitano?”
“I don’t know, Hannice. I’m not even sure if he got out of the boat when we landed. He probably took off.”
“We’ll have to tell the police about him.”
“Already done. The police questioned me and took a full verbal statement on the way from the cellar to the hospital. They know as much as I do. What happened to you after I was so unceremoniously dragged out?”
“Oh,” I replied, “we had a bit of a set-to. The guy; Spike, I assume; came at me with a knife and managed to damage a couple of the suit’s compartments. I had a bit of a scratch on my stomach and bashed my shoulder a bit, but basically, I’m okay. The important question is, are you okay?”
“Cuts and bruises. Nothing that won’t heal in a couple of days.”
“What about your head?”
“They did a scan and an x-ray. Everything is fine inside, but I have a hairline crack in my skull and some flesh damage. They shaved around the wound and repaired it with butterfly stitches. They want me to keep the bandage on for a while, and come back for a check-up in a week. They expect to remove the bandage then.”
“So we have to stay in Hawaii for a week, then?” I asked.
“We could have the follow-up anywhere, but I thought you were enjoying the island.”
“I am, or at least, I have been. With your head bandaged, though, there’ll be no diving, and that’s really the only thing we’re here for.”
“So where would you like to go instead,” Sophie asked.
“You can’t go anywhere just yet,” came a voice from by the door. I looked around and saw Jason, the local law. “I’d like you to stick around until I can depose you, which I propose to do in ten days’ time. If you give your statements under oath at a deposition, we should be able to take the case to trial without needing you. Of course, the defence may want to cross-examine you again at the main trial, in which case we’d need to call you back.”
“What do you suggest we do for the next ten days, Master Mariner Peter J Gurney?” I asked.
He laughed at my reference to his ‘cover’ pseudonym. “Beach and shopping. What more could ye be wanting?” he replied in his fake accent.
“I am likely to die of boredom from both of those activities,” I said, “I’ll hire a car; Sophie can drive; and we’ll get one of those powered wheelchairs that you can fit in the boot of the car.”
“The what of the car?”
“Sorry, slipped into English, there. You call it the trunk in American, don’t you?”
“Hey, they say we are two countries separated by a common language, don’t they? It’s not just the way you spell and say words that is different, you guys even use different words.”
“Yes, but we won’t get into that debate now, we’re only on the island for another ten days.”
“Fair comment,” Jason said, “do you have a disability placard?”
“If that’s like a disabled parking badge, then no, I don’t.”
“No problem, I’ll have one issued for you by this evening. Parking in Honolulu is difficult and expensive, so you’re probably best using a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair. Outside the city, your best bet is probably to rent a wheelchair van. Where are you staying?”
“The Royal Hawaiian.”
“Okay. Their reception will be able to arrange the necessary rentals for you, and they’ll fix you up with any tours or visits you want. I’ll get the placard sent across this evening.”
That was it, then. We were stuck in Hawaii for another week or so, with no possibility of diving, or anything exciting, for that matter.
There was a message waiting for me when I got back to the hotel. It was from Tanja, Henk’s PA. It said that Dr Khan-Smith wanted to talk to me as soon as he could.