Emerson Cod was not the
sort of person who made things for people.
“I don’t make things for people,” he announced flatly.
The three assembled people at the table in the Pie Hole looked unsurprised by this.
“Sure you do. You make loud and cutting remarks all the time,” the girl named Chuck pointed out.
“And hurtful ones too,” Olive Snook added, her inner self still smarting from some of the barbs sent flying her way from the yarn devotee.
The piemaker shrugged. “They have a point. You do tend to go heavy on the acerbic.”
“You all seem to have taken my words and filtered them through the minor moments of our previous encounters, which is a detour from my intended meaning. What I am saying is that in terms of the upcoming holiday, I do not make things for people. There ain’t no Secret Santas in my past, no burning necessity to pretend that the mood of the season in any way reflects a deeper relationship among, between or through us, dig?” the detective rolled out, eyeing each person in turn.
There was a moment of silence, and Chuck, who had on felt reindeer antlers, nodded. Next to her, Olive Snook, bedecked in a startling array of bells, many of the jingle variety, nodded as well.
Ned said nothing.
Emerson Cod spoke again. “Good.”
But if the truth were known, Emerson was in fact, a private and personal devotee to the season, and his love of all things Christmas merged yearly with his fondness for knitting; as a result, he often ended up in January with dozens of earmuffs, scarves, mittens, and once, a poncho large enough to tent a circus, provided the circus was small and needed a big top in neon green and orange with fringes.
Nevertheless, the detective felt that a formal disassociation was needed to establish an alibi, and that by promoting himself as a Scrooge of sorts, his name would not be among the first considered when certain packages arrived on Christmas morning.
When the Pie Hole opened on December 26th, Olive Snook was the first to show up with her new, fancy knitwear. The cap was a classic Finnish Pipo, with a repeating design of pink reindeer carrying pies across the brow, and two dangling ties on either side of her head, ending in fluffy puff balls of matching pink.
“That is amazing,” Chuck announced when she arrived a few moments later.
“And surprisingly warm. My whole head feels snug and happy, I think my hair is sleeping in today,” Olive agreed, shaking her head slightly to set the dangling puffs dancing. “Like yours too.”
She wore a wool beret of deep green, offset with a pattern of yellow bees knitted on it, and highlighted on top with a huge bobble in the cunning shape of a beehive.
“Thanks. I kind of like it too—makes me feel extra cozy.”
Both hats were made of one hundred percent angora wool, and although handcrafted, bore no creator’s label of any kind. Nevertheless, the two women shared a private and knowing smile.
Moments later, the pie maker came through the doors, bareheaded.
“Where’s your hat?” both Olive and Chuck demanded. Ned looked guilty.
“We’re inside; it’s warm. We don’t need to wear hats,” he objected.
Chuck gave a small sigh of disappointment.
“There are rules about gifts you know.”
“Rules. The first rule is that whatever you’re given, especially if it’s handmade HAS to be worn at least once so the creator can see it.”
“This is a rule?”
“Oh yes,” Olive nodded, her ear pompoms bobbing. “It’s the grandma clause, established back like, in the dinosaur days. You have to wear any and all handmade gifts at least once, and after that if you don’t like it, you can always stuff it way in the back of your sock drawer and leave it there, but the first time wearing is absolutely the law.”
The pie maker looked from one face to the other. “The law?”
Both women nodded. “The law.”
With extreme reluctance, Ned pulled out his gift from his trouser pocket and donned it, his face growing warm with embarrassment. This emotion was further deepened by the expressions of his two companions, both of whom broke into little oohs and ahhs.
“Ooohhh,” said Olive.
“Ahhh!” said Chuck.
“My ears are getting overheated.” Ned objected. He wore a ski toque of luscious raspberry and grape wool stripes, with a band of black around the middle, on which were little pies, and the Greek letters for Alpha and Omega.
The front door opened, and Emerson Cod looked at the three Pie Hole personnel in one sweeping glance. He noted Olive in her pink puffery. He saw Chuck in her bee bedecked bonnet. He observed Ned, encapped in pies and the perpetual plight of his powers. His expression stayed his usual dour glare, but deep inside, in that somewhat murky, yet Christmas-loving spot within him, Emerson Cod smiled.
“Nice hats,” he growled.