Harleen tied her hair in a ponytail and adjusted the camera to make sure it was a good shot of Joker’s chair for when he came in. She could hear the loud jingling and clanging of metal chains as Joker and the guard moved down the hallway. He quickly came into view, Harleen and Joker not taking their eyes off each other as the guard sat him down and attached the extra cuffs to the bolted-down chair.
“Hello Harley dear. It’s a good change of pace to have you waiting on me for once.” Joker said. He made a noise as though he was shivering. “It’s a bit brisk in here. Maybe the jacket was a good idea.” He smiled at Harleen. “I suppose I have you to thank for my wardrobe change?”
Harleen pressed the record button on the camera. “I apologize that we weren’t able to have a session yesterday.”
“Yes, it was most rude of you to stand me up.” Joker answered. “I mean, what could be more important than our date?”
“A young woman was admitted night before last.” Harleen answered.
“Oh, yes I heard. Dear little Duela.” Joker answered with a smile.
Harleen’s eyes widened, surprised to hear him mention her by name. “You know her?”
“I know of her. We never actually met.” Joker said holding out his hands, the chains jingling as he moved.
“Is she?” Harleen asked.
“Is she what?” Joker asked.
“Is Duela your daughter?” Harleen replied.
Joker broke out into laughter. “She most certainly is, though not mine specifically.” He smiled his biggest smile.
“What do you mean by that?” Harleen asked.
Joker chuckled. “My dear Harley, it’s way too complicated to get into.” He looked up to the ceiling. “All I can say to the subject is the world is much bigger than we all thought. It’s truly mind-blowing, Harley.”
“Then why don’t you share it with me?” Harleen asked.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I did.” Joker answered, still looking at the ceiling. “If anything, you’d end up sharing my cell with me.” He looked back down to Harleen. “Wouldn’t that be fun?”
“She said that the only way to get your attention is blow something up.” Harleen answered.
“Well, I think you and I both know that’s not true. Batsy never blew anything up and I just adore my playtime with him.” Joker leaned in. “You’ve never blown anything up, and I just can’t seem to stay away from you.” Harleen froze. She really hoped she was not blushing, but Joker’s smile made her think she was. With all her training and experience, she had never once blushed in front of a patient. “Duela’s always out and about, trying to find a way to win daddy’s approval, but…” he sighed. “She just doesn’t get me the way you and Bats do.”
“I get you?” Harleen asked.
“Of course. Why else would I even come to these things?” Joker asked. “You take as many shots as you can to get to the brass tacks. Just like me.” He smiled. “We have so much in common, Harley. It sends chills down my legs, filling my heart with smiles and warm fuzzies.” He fell silent, but stared at Harley. Her own spine began to tingle. In his silence, he was doing something to throw Harleen off her guard, but she did not know what. “Anyways, it’s my understanding she took off without saying good-bye.”
“She was being transferred to the women’s wing when she escaped.” Harleen answered. “Any idea what would prompt her to leave when she was so determined to see you?”
“Who can say with that girl? She’s crazier than the Bat.” Joker answered.
“You think Batman is crazy?” Harleen asked, surprised to hear the Joker say that.
Joker shrugged. “Why else would he dress up like a giant bat and punch people from dusk ‘til dawn?” He smiled again. “It’s certainly not because he lost a bet.”
“How do you know?” Harleen replied. “For all you know he did, and he liked it, so he kept doing it.”
Joker stared for seconds before bursting out into laughter. He leaned back in his chair, the chains clanging as he moved. “That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!” He continued laughing. “I love it!” He finally calmed down. “Oh, Harley, I didn’t think you had it in you, dear.” He still chuckled a few times before sighing. “Your first joke. Oh, I’ll cherish it forever.”
Something was different. Joker was not his normal self. He appeared…happy, if he was even capable of happiness. Harleen did not know how to proceed with the session. Joker was smiling, but it was not his sly, ‘I’m messing with you’ smile. To Harleen, it was a genuine, happy smile. Without it being her intention, she made the Joker laugh.
“Is that why Batman is your only real relationship?” Harleen asked. “He’s as crazy as you?”
“Do I look like I’m crazy?” Joker asked with that same smile on his face. “I’m as sane as they come, dear.” He tried to fold his arms across his chest, but his cuffs prevented that. “Sanity is a perspective, Harley. How do you know you’re not insane?”
“Because I went to school to study sanity and insanity.” Harleen answered.
“Well, you may want to get a refund.” Joker said, pointing and shaking his finger at her. “We’re all only as stable as we attempt to be. The more we try to appear normal, the more abnormal we become.” He placed his fingertip on the table. “I embrace the things that make me…well, me, and turn into something so outrageously fun, it’s viewed as insane.”
“Well, you did kill nine people and blow up an abandoned building.” Harleen replied.
“Exactly, an abandoned building.” Joker pointed out. “Why didn’t I pick a corporate office? Or any other crowded area in Gotham?”
“Those are good questions. Do you have a good answer?” Harleen replied.
“I do.” Joker answered. “Because I didn’t want to.” He smiled his normal slick and sly smile and leaned back in his chair. “Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. I squeeze the juice in your eyes and laugh. I do what just comes naturally.”
Harleen scribbled everything he said in her notepad. “And what just comes naturally?”
“Well, let’s put it in terms your college training can understand.” Joker answered. “There’s the id, the ego and superego.” He smiled. “The id is the part of your brain that makes you want to do everything you think of; the yes part of the brain; and mine is extremely large.” He winked. “The ego makes you realize you can’t do everything you want, when you want, the brain’s no part. Mine is currently being held hostage by my id. My superego was destroyed years ago, so we don’t need to get into that.”
“So, you have an overdeveloped id and an underdeveloped ego? That’s your excuse?” Harleen asked.
“How is that an excuse? Any jury with a simple level of psychology training could buy that and a vowel.” Joker chuckled. “I just do what my brain desires and get the satisfaction of carrying it out. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m—”
“A doer, I know.” Harleen answered.
“Even on our third date, you still remember.” Joker replied. “I’m quite touched, Harley.”
“This is our third date?” Harleen asked. Joker nodded. “Funny how time flies.”
“Time doesn’t fly, Harley. Time staggers and crawls, begging for a rush of fun.” Joker explained. “That’s what I do with my time.” He leaned in. “It’s what we could do with our time.”
“Our time?” Harleen asked.
“Of course, our time.” Joker said loudly. “We’re bound to have it, Harley. It’s as plain as the blush in your cheeks you had not minutes ago.” He smiled again, only it was far more promiscuous. “There’s a spark of me in you, Harley, and I want to see it explode.”
“I’m fairly certain there is no ‘spark’ of you anywhere in me.” Harleen said. “Sorry to disappoint.”
“I’m not disappointed. How can you see something you don’t know is there?” Joker asked. “Short of hallucinating, you can’t.” His voice went deeper. “But I’ll show it to you, sweets. It’s there, right where you least expect it to be…and I know I can ignite it.” His chains jingled as he moved his foot closer to her, attempting to play footsie with Harleen once more. “It’s just a matter of time.”
“What makes you sat that?” Harleen asked.
“Oh, because I’m already under your skin. I can see it.” Joker answered with a smile. “It’s the smile, isn’t it? It’s how I get all the ladies.”
“Including Evelyn Dent? Duela’s mother?” Harleen asked.
Joker smiled that ‘I know something you don’t’ smile and chuckled. “That’s a whole different conversation, my dear.” He sighed. “It’s important to stop and enjoy a good laugh, isn’t it, Harley?” He pointed to her again. “You should do that in your off time. Go out, enjoy life. Laugh a little.”
“I have plenty in my life to make me happy.” Harleen answered.
“Let me guess.” Joker said, putting his finger to his chin. “Boyfriend you see a few times a week?” Harleen gave no reaction, even though he was correct. “Dinner with the parents every so often, or maybe even just those everyday boring soap operas stay-at-home moms enjoy?” He chuckled. “Harley, does any of that make you really happy?” Harleen was silent. “I know what makes you happy.” He pointed to himself. “He’s sitting across the table from you.”
“And you don’t think you’re insane?” Harleen asked.
Joker laughed. “And you think you’re normal?” He asked back. “They’re all just words, Harley.” He gave her half a smirk. “And as we all know…actions speak louder than words.”
“And what actions would you use to convey which words?” Harleen asked.
“I’m thinking a big, big, heart filled with milk chocolates and plastic explosives, just in case my heart breaks.” Joker answered. “The words would be… ‘Please love me or I’ll break my heart before you can do it.’ Or something along those lines. I like to keep my plans fluid and open to change.”
“I thought you don’t plan.” Harleen replied.
“Plans, no plans. Left, right. Who cares? Again, they’re all just words, my dear.” Joker answered. “Let the actions do the talking. Like when Nygma escaped. He was saying ‘Sayonara everyone, I’m out to pester the people with my perfect riddles.’”
Harleen stared, doing her best not to smile. “And you think that’s what Nygma is saying?”
“Oh, who knows with that hack?” Joker said. “There’s no finesse with his jokes, and that’s even if there’s a joke to be had. He’s all about being smarter than everyone else.”
“Is he smarter than you?” Harleen asked.
“I wouldn’t go that far. I’d say he’s a close second to my worldly views.” Joker answered with a smile. “He knows how to set up a stooge but he always fails to deliver the punchline.”
“And that’s where you’re better than him? You never fail to deliver the punchline?” Harleen asked.
“And I keep on punching.” Joker answered, his smile growing bigger.
The guard unfastened Joker from the chair, Joker not taking his eyes off Harleen, and Harleen doing her best not to stare back. The chains jingled and chirped with every step Joker took. “Third date’s over. Shame. I was having fun.”
“There’s always tomorrow.” Harleen answered, sounding quite hopeful.
“Date number four.” Joker replied. “Your place or mine?”
Not realizing it until it was too late, Harleen snickered at Joker’s question. She quickly covered her mouth, but still could hear the Joker bursting into laughter as the guard escorted him out of the room.
Harleen sat in her office, watching the recorded session with Joker on her computer, listening to the audio through her ear buds. She pressed pause the moment Joker had the most genuinely happy smile on his face. Harleen sat back in her chair and folded her arms, smiling back at the screen. She did not know why, but it made her feel happy seeing him like that.
A knock hit her door. “Come in.” She answered.
Dr. Wallace entered and sat down. “Did it go well?”
She nodded as she removed her ear buds. “He didn’t try to do anything, which says he’s not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Which only makes me wonder what his bigger game is.” Dr. Wallace answered.
Harleen nodded, eyeing the computer screen. “I’m not sure how else to proceed with Joker. Half the time he’s just being ridiculous, and the other half he dodges the questions.”
Dr. Wallace nodded. “Well then don’t lead the session next time.” She gave him a confused look. “Have him lead. Have him decide what to talk about instead of a Q and A.”
“He’ll go completely tangential. There wouldn’t be a single solitary topic he’ll cover.” Harleen replied.
“So? It’s about getting a read on his train of thought.” Dr. Wallace said.
“He doesn’t have one. It’s more of a roller coaster that breaks apart in nine other roller coasters.” Harleen replied.
“Work with it.” Dr. Wallace answered. “Wherever his mind goes, follow it and see where it leads the conversation.”
Harleen gave it some thought. It made sense—if Joker just vented about whatever he felt like saying, he could and possibly would inadvertently divulge something of great importance to her work with him.
“Okay, I’ll give it a shot.” Harleen answered.
“Good.” Dr. Wallace answered. He got up from Harleen’s office chair. “Anything else I can help with?”
“Hmm?” Harleen said, her eyes going back to Dr. Wallace after looking at the Joker’s smile on her computer screen. “Oh, no. I’m good, thanks.”
Dr. Wallace nodded. “Any plans for tonight?”
“Nothing beyond the ordinary; although I plan on working a little late.” Harleen answered.
“Don’t work too late.” Dr. Wallace answered before leaving.
Harleen waited a little while before moving to her office door to see if Dr. Wallace was out of sight. Sure enough, he had already gone down the stairs. Harleen snuck out of her office and went down the stairs at the other end of the hall. She found the elevator on the next floor down and stepped inside, pressing B to head down into the basement.
The elevator dinged and showed B on the floor indicator. Harleen stepped out of the elevator car and entered the dank and dark basement of Arkham Asylum. She could hear water drops in the silence of the dimly lit corridor. It did not take her long to find the door to the boiler room and opened it. The boiler room was surprisingly cold for a room with its functions.
“Now…how did Nygma do it?” Harleen asked herself. She looked around, really thinking the scenario through. “Dr. Sydney mentioned old sewer lines that ran through the basement.” She walked around the room, looking down at the base of the walls. “Although, there wouldn’t be any sewer ports big enough to allow a person to get through them…so Nygma would have to look for…” her eyes caught sight of a maintenance hatch behind the two large water tanks. “A maintenance hatch would work for an escape.”
It looked old, the hinges were slightly rusted and half the door handle was broken off. She wondered as she grabbed what was left of the door handle. She pulled with all her strength and slowly, she managed to get the door open. “Huh.” She looked through the small opening she made, peering into almost pure darkness. “I would assume these would lead into Gotham’s main sewer lines. Nygma would to have gotten in from here…” She gave the door another look. “So, why wouldn’t they seal it up after he left?” Harleen made a mental note of it before heading back to the basement corridor.
Harleen picked her head up from her desk. She checked her phone. It was almost eight at night. She did not remember dozing off, but she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, seeing the play again option on her computer screen. She pressed it and her recorded session with Joker started to play from the beginning. The sound was still going through her earbuds, but she was not awake enough to listen. She decided to shut the volume off and watch her patient in total silence. She again pressed paused when Joker gave Harleen his most genuinely happy smile after she made her first joke. She moved it frame by frame until the screen showed him smiling and his eyes looking at her.
“Joker…” she whispered. “How do you do it?”
Joker Session 3 Notes by Dr. Harleen Quinzel
Joker was unusual today. He smiled, which to anyone who knows him, he smiles a lot. However, this was a different smile. It was the only genuine smile I’ve seen him give me in our sessions.
He actually said that he would cherish the first joke I made to him forever. I do not understand how his emotions work. They are so contradictory. He once spoke of control as if it was an illusion, though he has to control situations almost compulsively. Yet, he can also be unpredictable with no real agenda.
I believe somewhere in the Joker’s mind is a person who just wants to make the world laugh accompanied by a bully who knows how to make jokes hurt. If at all possible, I am making it my goal to bring that first part of him out of its shell. It may be the most real and genuine Joker that exists.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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