Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

The Pappa Files: The Addict

Mar 27, 2024

Tj O'Connor

I am Pappa. There are many pappas. But I am unique. Trust me. I am an anti-terrorism consultant by profession, and an author of mysteries and thrillers by devotion. A Harley Davidson pilot, man about dogs (and now cats), and an adventurer. I am a father to five and Pappa to eight and counting.
These are my stories…

Pappa Log: March 2023. Somewhere in Winchester, Virginia.

We all have our vices. We all have our addictions. I, regrettably, have more than my share. It’s true. I’m embarrassed. But I’m told confession is good for the soul. And the 3-Step program I am in now should assuredly help me.

Here’s what happened to me just last week. I thought I’d kicked it. I thought I was better and on my way to being clean for the long term.
I was a fool.

It was late in the afternoon and I was out doing some shopping for an upcoming gathering. You know me, I love to cook and entertain. I’m good at it, too. That is, if I don’t have the monkey on my back. I hadn’t, either, for nearly a year.

And then, there she was. My dealer. I hadn’t seen her for so long I almost didn’t recognize her. She stood in the shadows down the sidewalk from me. At first, I wasn’t sure it was her. Then, when she turned to see me walking down her way, her eyes—evil, determined eyes—locked onto me like Dracula. “Come. Come. Come to me. I command you.”

And it was over before I could stop.

“So, you couldn’t do it, could you?” my dealer sniped. “Take four. Take four and I’ll leave you alone.”

My palms were sweaty. My breath caught. “No. No. I can’t. Please. Let me go by. Don’t . . .”

My dealer laughed, stuffing the four items into my hands. “Cash. Now. Fast. There are others coming.”

“Please . . .” I turned to leave and a Sheriff’s deputy drove slowly by, eying me suspiciously. When the car pulled to the curb, I panicked. “Fine.”

I stuffed two twenties into her hand and nearly ran for my car.

I’m pathetic. Depraved. I didn’t even wait for any change—not that my dealer cared. I’m just another fix. Another skell. Another sad, little man with an addiction that filled her coffers. Hell, she didn’t even know my name. Didn’t know anything about me other than I paid in cash—and that I was a pathetic user, an addict.

That night, after my guests had left. I sat alone in the dark in my den. I tried hard to fight the monkey—to keep from falling deep into despair. I fought, I tell you. I fought hard. I tried. . .

Two hours later, my wife came to my den and stood in the doorway.

“What are you doing? Aren’t you writing?”

“Stay there, don’t come in,” I yelled, holding back my tears of failure. “I’ll be right there. Stay out.”

She hesitated and pushed the French doors open. “What’s wrong with you? It’s late.”

I jumped up and tried to cover the evidence on my desk. “Go back upstairs. I’m fine. Just give me a few moments.”

It was too late. She stood there, a scowl on her face. Her eyes sought my desktop and when she saw the evidence, she crossed her arms.

“You promised, Tj. You said it was under control.”

I cried—I tell you. I cried. I sat back down and looked at the truth that was my addiction.

Mint cookie packages littered my desk. A few chocolate smears from chocolate and peanut butter cookies stained my notepad. Only one sleeve of mints was left and when my wife reached for them, I snatched them back.

“No! They’re mine!” Shame enveloped me. “I’m sorry. Take them.”

My wife shook her head. “I’m so upset. I love those mints. You didn’t save me any.”

Addiction is a terrible thing. It makes you do things you don’t want to do. It brings out your inner Mr. Hyde.

And now you know. I’m an addict. I tried. Damn, I tried. But that face on the sidewalk. That uniform and all her merit badges. The stacks and stacks of chocolate, mint, peanut butter, and caramel. There should be a law—no dealers on public sidewalks. You should have to call them.

But, after three days, I’m clean again. Next year though—give me strength. I’m going to get a restraining order.

Pappa’s Log—Epilog—Two Days Later: Dammit! My granddaughter came to visit again—and she brought more mints! Is it time?

“Hi, my name is Tj, and I’m a scout cookie addict.”


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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