Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

Life in the Quarantine Zone – Out of Time

May 15, 2020

April 2020 – When Time Runs Out . . .

Like all of you, I’ve been in lock down mode for a couple weeks—banished to my home office.

Doomed to a life of bunny slippers and pink bathrobes. Not a pleasant picture for those who know me, I’m sure But hey, crisis is sort of who I am. After all, I raised five teenagers in my house (all at one time), and I’ve studied the classics—Outbreak, The Stand, Last Man on Earth, and On The Beach. I’m ready for the apocalypse. Bring it on.
Except, I ran out of time.

I’m a consultant and I sell my skills for money. Yeah, I know, that sounds like a lady of the night, but, well, sure I do it legally. No, I’m a hired fixer of sorts who’s paid by the hour. Time is everything. It’s a measure of my productivity and worth. It’s how I get paid. Although I’m thinking of trading a few hours of my time hunting bad guys for their toilet paper stashes. And that’s the problem. Just a day or so into this quarantine, my nice watch stopped. Dead. Not even a tick—dead battery. Damn.

But, being the experienced crisis guy that I am, I pulled out my G-Shock scuba diving watch from the drawer that I’ve had since my days in Athens and diving old wrecks in the Mediterranean Sea. Except that watch was dead, too. Next, into my security safe for my nice Tag Heuer. Dead. Damn. Double damn.

Finally, I succumbed to a pocket watch—a special gift from one of my daughters. Yep, dead too.

But I am a man of action, I called a jewelry store at the local mall . . . yes! They were open! Charge!

Not so fast, Mr. Consultant. Time stood still at the mall, too.

Me: “I’d like to get a new battery for my watch. Any of these.” I show her the loot.

Salesgirl: “Oh, yes, we have those. But I can’t touch your watch because of the virus.”

Me: “Okay, I’ll open them. Just sell me the batteries.”

Salesgirl. “I can’t. I can’t touch your money, either.”

Me: “Okay, I’ll just use my debit card and . . .”

Salesgirl: “You can’t touch our machine. And I can’t touch your debit card.”

Me: “So, why then, my dear, are you open?”

Salesgirl: “Because the owners said we had to.”

Me: “But you won’t do any business.”

Salesgirl: “They didn’t say we had to do that. We just had to open.”

Me: “But I called not twenty minute ago.”

Salesgirl: “Oh, yeah, but you only asked if we were open.”

I hung my head in unbelievability and withdrew to my den. My time was out—hers was too, she is destined to be a new character in my next novel. Albeit, a short-lived one.

So, back to my den and home office I slunk. A victim of the virus and mass-stupidity. Sitting at my desk, I noticed the computer clocks on my three computers on my desk. Then, I heard the Canterbury chimes of my grandfather clock and noticed the clock face on my cell phone. Across the room are two decorative clocks that were gifts from years ago. They all work just fine.

And why then, don’t I simply use the dozen or more timepieces in my den? Because I still look at my wrist every damn minute. And frankly, nobody said I had to.


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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