It was a cold dark night, so Angus City decided to get on with the bonfire on the zoo grounds. Of course, probably nobody would ever find out that he was using the grounds, to burn all of his own stuff... Anyway, even if he was caught, it didn't matter, because it was all for a very good cause. (To make room for all his 'Best Zoo Keeper' trophies and awards.)
He was just depositing the last of his unwanted belongings in the fire, when he felt it. He felt the chill spread throughout him, it was almost as if all the warmth in the world had been snubbed out. Suddenly, a tall dark shadow loomed over him. Angus spun around, gasping at what he saw, and before you knew it he was pushed into the roaring yellow flames.
Back in the Pie Hole, Olive Snook was back to serving pies again. This time, she had Pigby - pet pig - trailing along behind her with pies strapped to his back. Pigby was Olive's only souvenir of the Nunnery she'd spent several weeks serving as a Nun in.
In the meanwhile, behind the counter, Ned the Pie Maker absent-mindedly rolled out pastry, while watching Chuck - the love of his life, whom he was forbidden to touch - attack the dishes with soap and water.
At that very moment it was one year, seven months, three weeks, four days, thirteen hours and twenty-two minutes since he had brought Charlottle 'Chuck' Charles back from the dead. You see, as a child, young Ned had discovered a special ability to bring the dead back to life with the flick of his finger - but touch it twice and they'd be dead for good, and if kept alive for over a minute, another life of the same value would be lost. So when Ned had brought Chuck back to life, the funeral director had died in her place, but the consequence of bringing the love of his life back was that he could never ever touch her. Just one brush of the arm and Charlotte Charles would drop dead that very instant. Thus, Ned had to cope living with the knowledge that he'd never be able to touch her - which was, in fact, a very difficult task.
The bell on the door jingled and Emerson Cod, Private Investigator and the Pie Maker's best friend, quickly shuffled into the building; a large newspaper hid his face and most of his body.
Still in a daydream, Ned had not noticed Emerson enter, but Chuck had. "Hey, Emerson!" she called out cheerily, as she walked past.
Damn! She wasn't supposed to recognise me! He froze, before quickly sliding into a table booth.
"Welcome to the Pie Hole, what can I get you?" Olive said, not recognising who it was.
"Didn't I tell you: shh, already! And don't call me Emerson."
He glared at her from behind the newspaper.
"Oh, sorry!" she muttered, sliding in the booth to sit opposite him. "So, what's cracking?"
Emerson sighed, folded up the paper, took out his glasses and pulled out a big fat book from his jacket pocket. He begun to read but talked to Olive at the same time. "All these people calling my phone and queuing up at my door, it's all "Find my cat" this and "Help me" that! I may be a Private Investigator, but I ain't no cop."
Just then, there was a jingle of the bell and a little girl wandered into the restaurant. Her eyes scanned the room for the moment before stopping on Emerson's head; she went and sat next to him.
"What do you want little girl? Go sit somewhere else," Emerson said, trying to shoo her away.
"I need your help. And, no, I am not moving anywhere. Not until you help me," the brunette haired youngster replied stubbornly.
"Look, kid, I can't help you so shoo."
"You are Emerson Cod the Private Investigator, aren't you?"
"Who wants to know?" Emerson narrowed his eyes, attention suddenly perked. "And how d'you know my name."
"It says 'Emerson Cod, Private Investigator' on the back of your jacket."
"Darn it, I knew I shouldn't have chose to wear this coat today! I can't help you, go queue up in front of the office and wait until the big sign says open. Wait a minute... How do you know it says, what you said it says, on my coat? How did you know I was here?"
"I followed you!"
"Now you're a stalker?"
"Emerson, leave her alone, she's just a little kid!" Chuck protested.
The girl was determined. "How much?" she said abruptly.
Emerson leaned back comfortably. "I don't think a little girl, like you, could afford it..."
"You wanna bet?"
The girl revealed a small handbag, and unzipped it to uncover hundreds of crisp green twenty-dollar bills.
"Come to papa!" Emerson said, eyes widening in glee. if you squinted hard enough, you'd probably be able to see the dollar signs rolling in his eyes.
"Holy moly!" Olive exclaimed, mouth wide open. "Where'd you get all the cash?"
Emerson smothered his face in the wads of money, smelling it.
"I stole it from my mummy," the little girl replied, as if the answer was so obvious.
"What's your name?" Chuck asked.
"San Fransisco City."
"No sweetie, your name, not where you live.".
"San Fransisco City. That's my name."
"What kinda parent would name their kid San Frasisico?" Olive blabbed, but realised it was a mistake too late.
Olive Snook's problem was that she couldn't help but blab anything and everything. Of course, this problem was the reason Aunt Lily had sent her off to the nunnery in the first place. Being Olive Snook, that did not solve the problem. Olive held a grave secret - a secret that was supposed to still be in the grave. This secret was that Aunt Lily was actually Chuck's birth mother but pretended to be her aunt right up until the day Charlotte Charles died. The nunnery had only contained the secret - for, much like a bottle of pop being shaken and then opened, Olive could not hold it all in. She told Ned all about Charlotte Charles and the secret about her aunts... However, Olive still did not know that Chuck was supposedly dead and also didn't know about the fact that Ned the Piemaker had the gift of bringing back the dead. No doubt, if the secret was spilled to the waitress, words might've already accidentally spilled out of her mouth about a certain Pie Maker and his certain abilities.
"Anyway, San... Fransisco, how old are you and what can we do to help you?" Chuck swiftly changed the subject.
"I'm eight years, five months, three weeks and two days old. I count when I'm bored. I need you to help me find out who murdered my daddy!"
"Hang on, kid, if your dad was murdered, why didn't your mom come here with you?"
"Because mommy hates daddy. Mommy and Daddy split up, because Mommy always said that Daddy was a mother-"
Proceeding, the eight year old San Fransisco City said a string of... not so child-friendly words, but only Emerson, Olive and Chuck were able to hear due to the sound of the kettle whistling loudly. Coincidentally at that exact moment.
"... And mommy used to beat daddy up because he was so small."
Olive raised her eyebrows.
So then, little San Fransisco Francis, continued to tell the entire tale of her father. She explained everything from her father's Zoo Keeper awards to his most favourite brand of chocolate. Yet, they were so submerged in the information at hand that they didn't notice a short chubby figure eavesdropping on their conversation from the table next to them...