THE END OF MARKING TIME
BUY THE BOOK
Michael O’Connor has spent years perfecting his craft.
Unfortunately, his craft is breaking and entering. He’s
so good, he can stand in a shadowy corner of your home
and wait until you fall asleep before he begins bagging
your valuables. With his skills it was unlikely he’d
ever be caught, but one supremely unlucky day his
credit card fence turned him in. Just when you think
the world is safe from Michael, the supreme court rules
long term incarceration is cruel and unusual punishment
and releases 2,000,000 felons.
Criminals rampage on the outside. Citizens barricade
themselves in. Police departments take extreme measures
to end the crime spree. Corrections departments have a
flood of new offenders, but no way to deal with them
until Wendell Cummings develops reeducation. The system
is a brutal violation of privacy and human rights, but
citizens don’t care anymore. They want protection at
any cost and the government has no choice but to give
it to them. For the first time, felons fear the system.
The End of Marking Time opens with Michael trapped in a
hallway before a one-way mirror. He tells you his story
because he believes you are his jury and if you press
the green button, he will be given another chance.
Michael doesn't understand what is happening to him
because he was the last felon released. He was
unconscious while reeducation was introduced and he
doesn't believe he can be punished in a world without
prison. The mystery of this book is not who Michael
thinks you are, but who is sitting in the thirteen
chairs behind the window and what fate they will choose
I wasn’t surprised when the Plexiglas partitions shot
up out of the floor and locked me in front of this
window. I had seen the breaks in the tile floor and I
knew what was underneath because Wendell has done this
to me before. I know this time is different. I’m not
going to pretend I’m not scared to face your decision.
If you were on this side of the glass, you would be
scared, too. You can tell yourself you’re too good to
end up where I am. That you’re not like me. But how
different are we really? I wish I could see you, to see
the difference for myself, but I understand why Wendell
is hiding you. You probably have a steady job, a house,
and credits in the bank. You could never imagine doing
the things I’ve done. All you want is to get this over
and go back to your life. You might even be ready to
push the red button and get on with it, but put
yourself in my place. For the next few hours I’m going
to tell you my story. I hope you’ll give me a chance.
It was my destiny to be trapped in this tiled hallway
with you watching me through the one-way window. Maybe
not from birth, but certainly from the time I opened
the can of peaches I stole on Longmeadow Drive. I had
been on my own five years by then and I was at the top
of my game. I was cocky, but I had good reason. I chose
my targets well and I moved like a ghost when I worked.
I hadn’t been arrested in three years, not even a close
call. Maybe that’s why I watched Leno from behind the
couch while the middle-aged fat guy drifted in and out
of consciousness right in front of me. He snored one
minute and laughed at some politician’s latest gaffe
the next. I watched the show, ate my peaches, and
wondered how this buffoon afforded such a huge place
all by himself. It wasn’t just him. The whole street
was full of little kings and I couldn’t imagine there
were so many kingdoms in America. Don’t get me wrong. I
was glad to have them around because I worked my way
through the royal suburbs week after week. I should
have been paying attention instead of wondering why
someone with so much money lived by himself. Unlikely
he had a mother like mine. Or maybe he was just like my
Usually I cleaned up after myself so well that my marks
weren’t even sure they’d been hit. Plenty of them
blamed the shifty-eyed kid next door or raged against a
child they suspected of buying drugs. Normally I would
have cleaned the fork and put it back, then rinsed the
can and left it with the recycling, but that night I
left the can on the end table, the fork leaning down
into two inches of syrup. I knew I could never come
back. I had been through half the houses on this
street, pinched a wad of cash here, a diamond necklace
there. After I slipped out with the Mercedes that
night, the neighbors would take a closer look around
their houses and the emails would start flying. There
would be meetings with the police, talk of a
neighborhood watch, a few of them would even buy guns.
Sometimes when I was done with a place like this, I’d
tip off a real bungler, a smash-and-grab type hyped up
on drugs, and send him stumbling into a hornet’s nest
of nervous housewives and angry husbands. Sometimes the
druggie barged in and out so fast he got away the first
time, but eventually he would end up cuffed in the back
of a cruiser. That satisfied the neighbors and covered
my trail nicely. Everyone was happy except the guy
forced to detox in a six-by-nine.
I should have sent one of them in my place, but I
wanted the Mercedes. It took me five minutes to creep
out of the living room and up the stairs to the master
bedroom. The keys to the Mercedes were right on the
bureau in plain sight, as was his wallet with five
credit cards and six hundred forty in cash. Who carries
that much cash anymore? I left him twenty for breakfast
and took all the plastic. If he had more cash lying
around, I couldn’t find it. I checked the sock drawer,
then felt under the bureau and along the back edge with
no luck. He might have had a safe behind one of the oil
paintings, but I couldn’t risk taking them down with
him in the house. I was sitting at the desk in the
corner with his checkbook in my hand when he decided
he’d had enough of Leno and lumbered upstairs. The room
was massive, but there was only one way in and one way
out. I gambled. I could have headed for the door and
whacked him when he came in with his eyes half open,
but that wasn’t my style. I slipped to the floor,
crawled into the opening under the desktop, and pulled
the chair in behind me. He topped the stairs, trudged
past me, and flopped face first on the bed without even
looking in my direction.
It took him ten minutes to start snoring regularly. I
got back up onto the chair, reassured by the irregular
nasal bursts. My gamble paid off. There in the top
drawer I found a two-sided sheet of paper that listed
every credit card, bank account, and Internet site
logon the guy had, complete with passwords. I had his
debit card and his PIN, but I wasn’t stupid enough to
walk into an ATM and use it. I could find some kid I’d
never seen before and split the max withdrawal with
him, but that was risky. The magic was the plastic.
Since I had his list of customer service numbers, it’d
take him a day to contact the banks. All I needed was a
few hours and he’d be asleep longer than that.
I stopped at the bedroom door to look back and wonder
if I’d ever own a place like this. With an eighth-grade
education, probably not, especially where I went to
school. But for the next thirty minutes, I’d be driving
a top-of-the-line Mercedes with a pocket full of cash
The garage door opened smoothly. I drove out and hit
the remote like I lived there. I was pretty full of
myself when I made the corner out of the neighborhood
without a soul to see me. I couldn’t stop thinking
about what the fat guy would do when he woke up. He
might not notice his wallet was lighter, but he’d
definitely be pissed when he couldn’t find his keys.
He’d have a fit when he went down to the garage looking
for them and realized the Mercedes was gone.
The whole thing would sink in then. He’d call the cops
and he’d stomp around the house looking to see what
else I’d taken until they got there. It would really
hit him when he found the empty peach can on the end
table. Eventually he’d remember hearing the fork tap
the bottom of the can. He’d turned around once but
hadn’t really been looking. He felt safe in his home
until that night. All people did. They had to.
Otherwise they’d go nuts jumping at every noise and
shadow. They knew there were criminals out there, but
not in their houses, not while they were home. The poor
guy wouldn’t sleep for weeks.
He’d turn the night over and over in his mind until he
realized he’d picked up the clicker just a few feet
from where I was hiding in the shadows against the
wall. He’d be terrified then. He expected criminals to
be violent and unpredictable. He never expected someone
like me. I never panic. I know the cops take twenty
minutes to get most places and that’s more than enough
time to disappear if you’re not in a rush. I always
plan two exits, a hot one and a cool one. I always keep
my head and most of the time, like that night, I glide
along the cool road home, careful not to get stopped.
Unfortunately, I had no idea who I’d just hit or the
shit storm I was about to set off when I sold those
"... West has brilliantly
portrayed a world gone crazy where the rule is there
are no rules, or are they. Crime fiction meets science
fiction in this awesome thriller."
Book Bitch October 2010
"The End of Marking Time by
C.J. West is the most memorable book I have reviewed
for Luxury Reading. Everything about the story is still
Melanie Kline, Luxury Reading 2011
"This book troubled me. Hours after I've finished
it, I'm still thinking about it. There are no easy
answers in this book."
Tony, Redmond, WA
"CJ West has written such a compelling book - and
main character that you will be gripped from the moment
you open the book until the VERY LAST LINE... and then
it will haunt you afterwards... This book is a DO NOT
"I just now finished reading this book, and cannot
recommend it strongly enough. ...outstanding. I was
gripped from opening paragraph, till the very last
Cindy, Alberta, Canada
"This book was the most original and inspired work
of fiction I have read in years..."
C. Clift, Jersey City, NJ
"...mind blowing ending."
Buy The Book
The End of Marking Time is available as a trade paperback or
an e-book compatible with any e-reader. Personalized trade paperbacks
are now available for purchase via the BUY button at the bottom of this page.
ISBN 10: 0-9767788-4-X
ISBN 13: 978-0-9767788-4-4
Published: 22 West Books, May 2010
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Marking Time Series
The End of Marking Time
The Cat Bagger's
Randy Black Series
The Winemaker's Son