BILLINGSGATE POST: In most mystery stories, the culprit is usually the butler. In large churches, such as cathedrals, they don’t have butlers. But they do have sextons employed to maintain the church. Quasimodo wasn’t part of that team. He, as you know, was the bell-ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral. He lived his life sequestered in the bell tower, his hunchback his only companion.
Not a day went by that Slim Everdingle didn’t think of Quasimodo. Slim is a resourceful man who lives a life that requires him to rely on hunches just to survive. Slim revered the fictional character and main protagonist of the novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo. Quasimodo made hunches famous, especially in France and other countries that relied on intuitive thought for analysis and decision making. Many gamblers consider him the patron saint of their profession.
Thus, when Slim Everdingle read that one of the sextons of Notre Dame Cathedral claimed that he saw “a mysterious man with a hunchback exiting the church during the fire,” he knew that it couldn’t be Quasimodo.
The perfect alibi: Slim and Quasimodo were at Harry’s New York Bar at 5, Rue Daunou while the fire was raging. This old bar was a favorite hangout of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. At the same table where the two authors once arm wrestled, Slim was enjoying a Manhattan, while Quasimodo was slipping into his third Bombay martini; shaken not stirred.