• Scott Carnahan

Yeah Yeah, Ego Deaths and Stuff.

I’ve had a oner or a two-er.

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

I found myself in a coffee shop trying to put words to a page when I heard two hip young women discussing their ‘bad trips’ on psychedelic mushrooms.

It was a sort of bragging, one-upping while talking over each other. Making sure everyone could hear how cool they were for ‘opening their souls’ and losing their egos, “It was like, so terrible, but I’m a better person for it”.

I was suddenly taken back a few months to my own horrid affair.



It was supposed to be a meditative trip, calming music, and closed eyes with the intent to be eye-opening. Peaceful, relaxing, and spiritual.

But when you lay down too early and fall asleep only to have the mushrooms wake you up at the very same time a police helicopter roars overhead toward a red setting sun, caused by massive fires to the north, you’re on a wholly different ride.

Spirituality in a mushroom? More like death, fear, worry, anxiety!

That is the worst possible way to wake up, no way for the calming hippie bullshit music to bring you back, it's all fear, nothing but despair, and certain death ripping at your very insides. There’s a voice screaming that you’ve been banished to hell, you will die a rotten and most painful death, the drug wraps its way into your soul and pulls you down down down into a frenzy of worry.

I snapped out of bed and balled up on the couch to find something funny to calm my fears, but I couldn’t get the TV to work. Horror struck as I realized the power had gone out. I now feared that outside was some sort of riot or coup and I was tripping my balls off in my apartment while people plotted to rage up and tear me apart. Maybe the cops were after me, ready to haul me away for my 6-month-old DUI. Why did I eat these awful mushrooms, and on a day before a job?! You depraved dingus of a man!

My phone was going off now, text after text of worry at why I didn’t respond. Am I confirmed for tomorrow? Will I have tape? The tape that is needed for the camera, I couldn’t even make sense of needing tape for a fucking camera, why did I do this to myself…Spirituality in a mushroom? More like death, fear, worry, anxiety!

Who cares if you are from Reno, this is Los Angeles, and here you don’t get to get away with petty bullshit, no, not here buckaroo.

There is that god damn helicopter again. What is going on?! Police sirens, a fiery sun blaring in through the blinds. It is hell, I am in hell and the TV doesn’t work here. Fuck.


Somehow I respond to the camera pricks, say I will be there and I will have the tape. WHAT IS WITH THE TAPE?! I hate cameras, never even want to see one again.

But the money we all need money, speaking of money, I am out of it. And the cops want me. I may be arrested at any time now. That damn DUI, too much whiskey, and too much confidence. Who cares if you are from Reno, this is Los Angeles, and here you don’t get to get away with petty bullshit, no, not here buckaroo. This town doesn’t love a drunk the way Reno does, here you are simply a menace, not a cash pot.

At this point, I was supposed to be in communication with the universe, but instead, I am lost in the everlasting darkness that pervades everything.

My wife says she will leave work early, come babysit me, I can’t make sense of anything, the world is bubbling around me with a fierce rage. I am dreading everything, sitting on my desk chair telling myself: it will all be ok, it will all be ok, it will all be ok.

Wishing I could write but I know that there is no way. THESE BASTARDS and their cameras, their tape…oh god, the fucking tape. Why??? Ok. Get a grip…I can’t.

The helicopter is circling, the sirens are closer, louder. The evil red light has faded, night is coming and it is more terrifying than anything else. I have no way to understand time anymore, the walls around me are ready to burst, they are breathing with a fearsome rhythm. I’ve never experienced anything like this.

At this point, I was supposed to be in communication with the universe, but instead, I am lost in the everlasting darkness that pervades everything. Perhaps this IS the universe, or perhaps Los Angeles has intercepted and wants me to know it owns me, a city with consciousness, an evil city — cancer on the land and it is mad. You think you can beat this beast of a city, no sir, you are in fact very wrong. DEAD wrong.

I assume my wife is dead, chewed up by this city bleeding out on the freeway somewhere, maybe carjacked, raped, some horror I don’t even know.

The walls begin to breathe less, the feeling of dread is starting to falter, but I still can’t write. What if I can never write again? What if forever I will be a tape jockey, cameras. God damn fucking cameras. I am doomed, at least Trump isn’t president, wait that DID happen, that monster is leading the country, and I’m jockeying cameras. Fuck fuck fuck. It is all going to end, we are all doomed.

Ok, get a grip, maintain. Remember that you consumed a drug, a natural drug, you are supposed to eat this fungus, it evolved humans from monkeys. Now it is devolving me, disintegrating me into some pile of disgusting fear and disdain. I blame the city, what if I become the city, fall into skid row, and end up living in a tent, it is possible, very possible, and that’s if this damn helicopter doesn’t haul me away for driving drunk.

The sirens have stopped, they have found their prey, they must be feeding in the night, the helicopter watching from above, sitting in a holding pattern somehow feeding, using its light, gaining pleasure from the bloodshed below.

Face in the pillow, tears streaming. I assume my wife is dead, chewed up by this city bleeding out on the freeway somewhere, maybe carjacked, raped, some horror I don’t even know. We will never have kids, I’ll never see her beaming face and gorgeous smile again.

It's all over, I’ve got the camera tape. Rotten its all rotten I need to be in the desert, out where the coyote howls. The coyotes have all been killed, their hides sold for cheap, cents on the dollar. Some call them pests, the scourge of the land, those are the same soulless bastards that assume the city to be the holiest of places. The cancer of the earth, humans are cancer cells clumped together in tumors they call cities. City limits grow in all directions, the cancer calls it progress, the land dwindles and dies. I am part of the problem, the camera tape is the fuel that feeds the rot.

It's all doom as fires rage, the ice melts — the water rises. We are all fucked.

The door opens, it's my wife. She’s survived the city, the vicious gauntlet known as Interstate 10. Maybe it will all be ok, just grab the camera tape, get to work tomorrow. Maintain, make money, one day you will leave and be in nature. You will be free from this rotten city, out of the cancer cell. Hold her tight, any day could be her last or your last, anyone’s last.

The fear fades, warmth in her arms, all is ok. She reminds me it is set and setting, think before you trip, it is not smoking a joint, this fungus means business.

I put the tape in my bag, put the bag by the door. Soon I am back in bed, cuddled and crying. Tears of joy, surviving the pain with a whole new respect for everything.

Love, gratitude, and hope for the journey.





Suddenly I am back in the coffee shop having relived the horror of that day, it feels like so long ago, perhaps it was just some nightmare. No, it was a death of my ego, a shedding of a shell I didn’t realize I had. As horrid as the trip was, I learned much about myself and the way I process negative thought patterns.

The women leave the coffee shop and I pack up my things, eager to step outside and drink in the beauty that is life.


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©2021 by Scott Carnahan.