We are always proud of our Fearey staff and their fearless approach to business, but it’s a special thrill to see it go beyond the office and into even more dangerous territory: Art. Diane Geurts always brings her A-game as an Account Supervisor at The Fearey Group and we’re glad to have her on the team. She is also an aspiring novelist. Her first book has been in the works for more than five years, and after dozens of submissions to publishers she’s finally getting some well deserved recognition. The annual Pacific Northwest Writers Association mainstream novel contest gets hundreds of submissions, and this year Diane is one of nine finalists! Her tenacity and drive are inspirational. She is the embodiment of the “Fearey way” and we are proud and excited to cheer her on! Read the first few pages of her novel below and see why she was selected. I can’t wait to read more!
Nobody answered the door at the house when Damon knocked, but he could hear a child’s voice from somewhere inside, so after a while he put his battered hat on and went around back. Before he even put his foot on the porch stairs he heard a baby wailing, a desperate, frightened sob that made his heart leap. He pushed the door open. The kitchen was filthy. Dirty plates teetered in piles, flies swarmed the windows and cockroaches roamed the counters even in the middle of the day. The appliances were in pieces on a card table that perhaps had at one point served as a kitchen table – a toaster oven, a microwave, tangles of unidentifiable parts. “Jesus,” Damon cursed softly. He wasn’t the tidiest man in the world, but this was tragedy in the making, anyone could see that. He found the little boy naked in the living room, covered in shit, his soiled diaper dangling from his right hand. Tears streaked down his face and his mouth shaped into a wide ‘O’ as he wailed helplessly, his shoulders shaking as he sobbed. His hair stood off his head despite its length, a mass of knots and snarls that hadn’t seen a comb in weeks. Damon stepped into the room and saw a woman sprawled on the couch, her arms flung wide and her dirty bare feet hanging off the end. She was scarecrow thin. Her clothing reminded him of a pathetic imitation of the outfits the free-spirited girls in Missoula had worn in his college days; a red and white checked flannel shirt tied at her navel and daisy duke shorts that cut tightly into her upper thigh. He checked her pulse and breathing first before going to the boy, mainly to give the kid time to check him out, just like he would do for a scared horse. The woman’s arm shifted and slid off the couch so that her hand grazed the carpet. Damon waited a few seconds to see if she would wake up but she didn’t. She remained slack-jawed, dead to the world. “Is that your mommy sleeping?” Damon asked, facing the kid again, his gruff voice too loud in the sparsely furnished room. He knelt down several steps away from the boy and made himself small. The boy stared at him warily, like a trapped animal trying to figure out the best escape route. After several minutes of crouching and making no progress, Damon didn’t know what to think. “Hellfire,” he whispered under his breath, thinking of the horse he had been sent to get and how long it would take to find and then make the drive back to Roscoe. This already long day had gotten that much longer. He had looked for any sign of the brown and white paint when he pulled up, but there was just the house and garage, nothing that spoke of horses. His brother-in-law had spotted the gelding from the road a week back and after a quick look had offered the owner five hundred dollars, which was readily accepted, according to Chase. At the time, Chase hadn’t a way to get the horse back to his ranch so he’d asked Damon to drive the extra half hour past the computer store to pick it up, not an unusual request since it wasn’t often that anyone out their way drove the three hours into Missoula. Damon stood up and scratched up under his hat at his sweaty forehead. Leaving and pretending like he’d never seen this boy and lady wasn’t an option, although it was certainly the easiest way out. “Okay,” he said loudly, hoping the woman would rouse. She didn’t move. The boy shrank from his voice and sat down, slipping as the feces on his buttocks met the wood floor. “Oh, sweet Lord,” Damon muttered as the boy resumed sobbing. Damon took off his hat and offered it with a shallow gesture to the boy. “Want to try this on?” The boy kept crying as if Damon wasn’t even there. His wails reached such a pitch that the woman rolled her eyes open long enough to shout hoarsely: “Shut up, Jude! Shut up.” The boy was instantly quiet. He scampered across the floor to the opposite side of the room, leaving rivulets of brown at his feet as he went, and hid behind a coffee table. Damon strode over and shook the woman hard, his hands on her shoulders rocking her back and forth, making her head teeter like a raggedy doll. “Go away,” she groaned, and turned herself over so that her face was buried in the couch. Damon’s heart thumped crazily at his rib cage. She was much younger than his wife, Linda. Definitely closer to Sharlene’s age, although his mistress’s athleticism and vigor was misleading, making you think she was barely twenty-one when she was pushing thirty. But this lady – this lady looked much older than she probably was. She was used and worn in a way that wasn’t familiar. Drink, drugs and hard-living, Damon presumed. Helplessness overcame him and he instinctively looked around for someone to help: a rodeo clown, the jigger boss, Linda. It was an old habit, being the rodeo star who gave orders and whom everybody wanted to impress. Delegating had become his specialty this last decade. There was no delegation here.