A letter arrives from Christopher Lamere in New England. (I note, incidentally, that Mr Lamere’s name is an anagram of H[is] R[oyal] H[ighness] Elastic Emperor, though this may not be significant.)
Dear Mr. Key
I want you to know that you are my favorite writer. This may seem like a vast honor for a no-name, penniless, friendless failure of a 25 year old to bestow, but it is God’s truth. The imagery which you conjure gives me chills. The truths you tell with your stories fascinate and disturb me, especially because I often initially read your tales as flights of fancy instead of actual true events. As a resident of New England, your descriptions of far away ye Olde England are unnerving portraits of a distant land which my home tries to imitate.
Imagine my surprise then, while wandering through some not very dense woods which as an American I would never call a spinney, I found myself at the edge of a wooden lake. At first, I was convinced that the plank upon plank of maple wood was merely the foundation for some as yet unconstructed building, but when I pressed my ear to the varnished surface, I heard that interminable sloshing of some hidden beast. I was shocked to find that your story of the wooden lake was not a mere fantasy, but an ominous story of hidden portent.
It’s the most frustrating thing in the world, since it seems like a conspiracy which I was excluded from. Even with words whispered between my close friends, when I broach the subject of vast lake monsters, or even the mere idea of lakes hidden by wood, their whole demeanor changes. It’s as if they’ve never heard of a lake, or monsters, or wood, or even nails. While I have not been ejected from my town as of yet, people tend to narrow their eyes and hiss “outsider” when I come around. What should I do? I don’t own a hammer, and there is no duckpond in my town.
Yours in fear,
Have no fear, Mr Lamere! I have given much thought to what you should do in order to avoid otherwise inevitable gruesome consequences. First, make a magnetic tape-recording of the hissing sounds made by your townsfolk. Under cover of darkness, subject the tape to certain blasphemous manipulations, then use rusty blood-caked garden shears to cut it and form it into a loop, such that, when played, it will repeat after approximately thirteen seconds. Take it to the precise centre of the wooden lake and play it through an enormous loudspeaker or electric hooter at deafening volume. Have to hand a supply of pebbles which you can hurl at any townsfolk who approach, intent on silencing you. As the godawful hiss resounds across the wooden lake and into the dense woods, execute a tableau vivant of a historical or mythological theme – Judith with the head of Holofernes would be apt, or perhaps President Nixon holding his arms aloft just before boarding the helicopter on the White House lawn that ferried him to retirement. From time to time, increase the volume of the hissing tape loop. Before several days have passed, your lack of a hammer and a duckpond will count for nothing. And, as I so often say when dispensing advice, irrespective of the nature of that advice, remember to wear gloves.