Over the past few weeks I have been following an intriguing flurry of correspondence in the readers’ letters section of Bestial Grunting magazine. It began back in October – the “yellow month” – with a query from a certain Mr. P. X. Pyx, who wrote “I have been trying to obtain a map of Pointy Town, without success. Can any of your readers point me in the right direction?”
In the next issue there were several replies, but most of them were facetious. They suggested plenty of directions in which Mr. Pyx might point himself, but the respondents were just having a spot of fun. The only sensible letter came from someone who described themselves (in an unpublished addendum) as an Official Pointy Town Tour Guide. It is worth mentioning here that such a position does not exist, as the only known tour guides in Pointy Town are resolutely unofficial, and proud of being so. But let that pass. This (unnamed) correspondent made the not unreasonable point that Mr. Pyx needed to divulge his own location before anybody could hope to have a clue in which direction he should be pointed in order to face either Pointy Town itself or a kiosk where he might make purchase of a map thereof. The editrix of Bestial Grunting awarded this letter five stars, and rightly so.
The following week, a letter appeared undersigned “Mrs. P. X. Pyx, grieving relict of Mr. P. X. Pyx”. Alongside the printed, typeset version of the letter, a photograph of the original was reproduced, showing the smudges occasioned during its composition by Mrs. Pyx’s fallen tears, the better for readers to appreciate her grief. The widow explained that her late husband had dutifully followed the sundry pieces of advice given by the facetious letter-writers in the previous issue, but that in pointing himself in dozens of different directions at great speed, he had become dizzy in the head, and toppled over, and fallen into a pit of vipers he happened to be standing next to at the time. Mrs. Pyx added the plea that she herself now sought advice on obtaining a map of Pointy Town, as it was her dearest wish that her husband be buried clutching said map in his cold dead white hands, as soon as the authorities had devised a method of safely extricating his corpse from the viper pit. She did not divulge her location. Her letter was not awarded any stars by the editrix.
By the time the next issue of the magazine appeared, it was November, the “month of chrysanthemums”. Much of the letters page was taken up with protests that Mrs. Pyx had not been given any stars. Several readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions unless this injustice was corrected. The editrix devoted a full page elsewhere in the issue to a carefully-argued piece explaining her decision. Stars, she wrote, were not awarded lightly, and she was damned if she was going to cave in to the demands of her more petulant readers who misunderstood the protocols. The article was accompanied by a photograph of the letters editor plucking a star from the night sky, preliminary to affixing it to the print-ready page.
Eagle-eyed readers would have noticed, buried beneath all the letters of protest, a further letter from the soi-disant Official Pointy Town Tour Guide. He wrote that he was due to meet a mysterious “contact”, at a crossroads at midnight, who dangled before him the possibility that he – the “contact” – might identify a kiosk where a map of Pointy Town could be obtained, though only for rental, rather than purchase outright.
I missed the next issue of Bestial Grunting by dint of [illegible].
God alone knows what happened, but in the fortnight since I’d bought a copy, the magazine had changed utterly. It was now called New Bestial Grunting, the editrix had become the editrix-in-chief, the letters editor had been demoted to office janitor, and the readers’ letters page had vanished. In its place was a sheet of burnt and blackened paper giving off a distinct whiff of sulphur. When I tried to return the magazine to the newsagent, thinking it might just be a faulty copy, I found his kiosk shuttered and boarded up, and daubed with the sign of the cross.
Could all this be connected in some way to the dead Mr. Pyx and the quick Mrs. Pyx and their desire to obtain a map of Pointy Town? I had to concede the possibility. I determined, at once, standing in a puddle next to the abandoned kiosk, to pay Mrs. Pyx a visit and interrogate her, under Klieg lights if necessary. But then I realised that neither she nor her late husband had ever revealed their whereabouts. Like Pointy Town itself, she was unmapp’d, and I was lost.
This article was awarded one star – Mavis Handbasin, Editrix-in-Chief