Construction, greed, bling: what’s not to like? For those who have not had the pleasure of pre-pre-ordering The Hunchback of Nostradamus yet, here’s a synopsis. I was asked for it by some stingy git on Facebook who wanted a (what’s the keyboard shortcut for air quotes?) “sample” to help him to make up his tight little mind. So here’s a taster to whet the appetite, a literary canapé of sorts (pronounced: can o’pee – you’re welcome).
In 1700s Paris, a handsome, intelligent, gentlemanly, altruistic property developer by the name of Pepé Riesling finds himself in a terrible bind. Having achieved immense success in the construction business, he has become bored with having it all. At the grand old age of thirty-five, he has began to contemplate his legacy. Out of this comes a grand plan.
Pepé dreams of building a stunning gothic Cathedral in a rundown suburb of Paris, something that will stand forever as a testament to his vision. His dream (once the zoning has been changed of course) includes the finest stained-glass windows, the finest pews fashioned from the very best trees, the very best candles, and so on. No expense spared. Pepé’s design also includes eight apartments, a few retail units and some office space.
Sadly, Pepé runs afoul of disgruntled city officials and a few local yokels who object to the plan, calling it whatever the French word for insipid is, I can’t remember.
Anyway, Pepé’s assistant is Pseudomodo. He’s a nice, sort-of handsome lad who Pepé rescued from a potentially terrible life of demeaning work. You see, while travelling in a foreign land some time earlier, Pepé found Pseudomodo in servitude to an all girls sports team. There, he was whatever the 18th century equivalent of the towel garçon was.
Staggering by one hot summer night on his way home from le pub, Pepé spotted Pseudomodo working extremely hard for the ladies. He saw him sweat and drool as he rushed from one dorm to another, delivering ‘towels’ as he told Pepé later on. Noticing that Psuedomodo could barely walk, Pepé’s gold plated heart melted in sympathy. He made an arrangement with the team’s coach (paid her off) to take Psuedomodo away from his harsh life and promised to give him a far better existence. Psuedomodo was to come and live with Pepé and his family in their luxurious château or yacht (le qui fuit) or town maison depending on Pepé’s whims or what BS he was peddling at the time. Psuedomodo was to be Pepé’s manservant, and occasional masseuse – as Pepé needed regular help moisturizing his all over Psoriasis and dealing with his chronic hemorrhoids. Life would surely be better now.
Finally, in a strange kind of Stockholm Syndrome, Psuedomodo was dragged away, kicking and screaming as his fit and beautiful captors wept from their windows. Clearly unhappy, Pepé surmised, at the loss of Pseudomodo’s towelling services.
Pepé went to bed a contented man that night, believing he had done a fine deed. As a matter of fact, many times in the night Pepé awoke to the sound of Psuedomodo crying tears of joy from his cot in the stables of the fancy inn Pepé was sleeping at. One time, Pepé even awoke to find Psuedomodo standing in the darkness at the end of his bed, pillow in hand – clearly there to make Pepé comfortable he figured. When Psuedomodo told him that the pillow was the best thing for both of them, Pepé wept with delight, he even allowed Psuedomodo to sleep on the floor at the end of his bed for the remainder of the night.
Over time, Psuedomodo came to tolerate his new position and even came to develop a crush on Pepé’s daughter, the beautiful Anastasia. The Paris Hilton of her time, Anastasia was the talk of the town everywhere she went. Affectionately known as Vélo to her many admirers and friends, she wouldn’t however, give the likes of Pseudomodo the time of day, or as she so eloquently put it, “la vapeur de ma pisse”.
Then something very strange happens. One afternoon, Psuedomodo finds himself running an errand for Anastasia. He collects a package from a popular boutique down a typical Parisienne alleyway and on the way home he can’t help but sneak a peek. Before he can close it up though, an exotic looking spider leaps from the box and bites Psuedomodo on the face. It then scuttles over his shoulder and bites him on the back for good measure. In his frantic and frankly embarrassing efforts to “get it off me, get it off me!” Psuedomodo manages to slip and hit his head on the pee drenched cobbles beneath his feet. Pee drenched, but somehow still charming because hey, it’s Paris.
When he awakes three days later, Psuedomodo is two feet shorter. He has also developed a large lump on his back and a permanently swollen left eye and ear. Stranger though, he has developed a remarkable ability. His sight and hearing have improved beyond the capacity of any human. With these newly improved senses, Psuedomodo now has the ability to see the people around him for what they really are, and hear the true meaning of their words.
Unfortunately, Pseudomodo is driven insane by their claptrap, particularly Anastasia and her friend Belle (who he always had a hard time listening to, constantly complaining that “Belle is making me deaf”). Demented at the thought of spending the rest of his life within one hundred miles of their nonsense, Pseudomodo hatches a plan to get rid of them all and have it blamed on the advisor of a soon to be visiting Russian Tsar. It all culminates in an epic battle atop the bell tower of Pepé’s newly built cathedral, as the bank and the shoddy construction standards finally bring the building down on Pepé’s head, and Psuedomodo learns the true meaning of Christmas.
That’s a summary of the first chapter folks, I know your you’re going to love the rest. So rush out and pre-pre-order now, it will soon be available wherever bad book aren’t sold.