Peyote and My Short Story

Years ago, I contributed a short story to a Christmas anthology that a friend was publishing. My piece was named “Santa’s Secret Helper” and it was a rather hilarious (and irreverent) take on what can go wrong when a curmudgeon drinks the wrong kind of tea and has a personality change for the better during the Christmas season. As you can imagine, the central premise involved a drug misadventure. I may re-publish it as a series of blogs closer to Christmas for your entertainment.

Recently, I pulled that short story out of my writing archives and attempted to revive it with a fresh plot twist and with a more South Texas theme. The story is in the editing phase now, is much longer than the original, and I use San Antonio’s Fiesta events as the central backdrop setting. Even the drug misadventure has a more South Texas twist, and the drug of choice I’m using is peyote.

Peyote is a small cactus plant that commonly grows wherever the ground is rich in limestone. It can be found predominantly in the southwest areas of Texas and Mexico. The flowered “buttons” of the plant contain a psychoactive alkaloid called mescaline that produces a wide range of psychological effects, including deep insight into one’s spiritual side, when crushed and made into a tea.

Native Americans and indigenous people of Northern Mexico used the plant in tribal rituals dating back almost 6,000 years. As part of the assimilation programs run by the US government up to the early 1900s, peyote was made illegal among Native American tribes. However, after winning a series of religious freedom cases and the restoration of the Religious Freedom Act of 1993, peyote use for religious practices was made legal again—in all 50 states. It should be noted, though, that present state laws may vary regarding the plant’s legality for use in tribal religious rituals.

Currently, peyote is considered an endangered plant, and selling illegally poached plants are on the rise. For that reason, this plant made a perfect drug component for the misadventure in my updated short story.

I needed a drug that produced an evolving personality change in the character, caused a moderate amount of physiological distress when too much was used, and I wanted the drug disguised enough in a tea that the misuse would not be noticed until it was too late. Peyote was the perfect choice.

Traditional peyote used in tribal ceremonies is said to restore balance among the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of an individual—when used in minute amounts under relatively controlled conditions, that is.

The immediate effects include emotional changes that increase self-awareness, encourage honest communication with others and produce profound introspection. The drug’s hallucinogenic qualities are reported to enhance interconnectedness with nature, oneself and with other people.

Like many drugs that have entered the spotlight for recreational abuse, peyote (or more specifically, its psychoactive component mescaline) has been used therapeutically. Peyote was used in the past for treating fevers, joint pain, skin wounds and snakebites.

A full dose (about six peyote buttons) produces somewhere between 200 to 400mgs of mescaline. Peak hallucinogenic effects occur about two to four hours after ingestion and they last for eight to twelve hours.

Many experience some nausea and other gastrointestinal discomfort within 30 minutes after ingestion. Sweating and/or chills have been reported as well. After about one or two hours, however, the physiological distress is replaced by a sense of calm and openness.

Peyote was the perfect drug for my story! I’m developing a series of such short stories, when I need a break from novel writing, and I hope to publish that collection sometime next year.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A Mystery Short Story, A Non-Murder Plot, About Ancient Forgotten Cures, About Medications/Pharmacy, Ancient Curing Potions, Blog Writers, Blogging, Chemical Poisons, Chemicals Used For Murder, Christmas Anthology, Christmas Short Stories, Deadly Plant Poisons, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Story Arcs, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Drug Abuse, Drug Misadventures, Drug Poisoning, Drugs and Amnesia, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, Growing As A Writer, Hallucinogenic Drugs, How to Choose a Murder Weapon for a Plot Idea, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, James J. Murray Blog, Lethal Botanicals, Medical Research on Psychedelic Drugs, Mescaline, Misuse of Drugs, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons Discussed, Murder With Drugs, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, New Uses for Old Drugs, Peyote, Peyote and Tribal Rituals, Pharmacy/Pharmaceuticals, Plant Poisons, Plants That Kill, Plants Used For Murder, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Poisonous Plants, Prescription For Murder Blog, Psychedelic Drugs, Psychoactive Designer Drugs, Psychotropic Botanicals, Santa's Secret Helper, Short Stories of Suspense and Mystery, Short Story Development, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Writing Dramatic Murder Scenes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Peyote and My Short Story

  1. Jim Burk says:

    The folks here in SantaFe enjoyed
    The peyote Christmas Story.
    They understand Peyote and
    it’s affects very well.
    Glad you republished it.

    Jim & Ann

  2. Thanks! I had a kick out of researching peyote and having fun writing that story.

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