Harleen got up from her office desk with her notepad in hand and pen tucked behind her ear. She opened her office door and felt the tip of her shoe hit paper. Harleen looked down, seeing the front-page article of the newspaper. Shocked by what she saw, she picked up, quickly reading the first portion of the article. Harleen was struck by inspiration and tucked the paper under her arm as she made her way to the interview room for her session with Joker.
Joker entered before the guard as always and stared at Harleen as the guard cuffed the chains to the chair. “Hello, dear.” Harleen said nothing. “What’s the matter? Catwoman got your tongue?” Harleen took the newspaper and unfolded it, setting it down in silence for the Joker to read. He looked down and smiled with pride.
Joker Explodes Drug Center, Kills 9 Dealers
“Not bad, huh?” Joker asked with a smile.
“I read the article.” Harleen answered.
“Anything interesting?” Joker replied.
“As it turns out, the old printing factory you exploded was turned into a drug processing center where it was distributed to street dealers all over Gotham.” Harleen answered. “And the nine people you killed were dealers receiving those drugs for distribution.” Joker smiled his pride more than apparent. “Did you know all that when you did it?”
Joker leaned in, interlocking his fingers. “Gotham is my city. Not Batman’s, not Commissioner Gordon’s—mine.” He chuckled. “There’s nothing in this city I don’t know about.”
“So, there really was a reason why you did those things?” Harleen answered.
“I did it because I could.” Joker answered. “Gotham’s sick enough. It doesn’t need more drugs on the streets. If anything I was doing the city a favor.”
“That’s what you think you did?” Harleen asked. Joker shrugged. “Many people would say you killed nine people and blew up a building.”
“That’s the bare minimum of the details, Harley.” Joker answered. “It was an abandoned building being used to process and distribute illegal narcotics to the very nine people I killed and even more.” Joker smiled again. “That’s nine deadbeat dealers down forever and who knows how much drugs I took off the streets by exploding the building?” He eyed her with a smirk. “Think the Batman can do that?”
“Batman’s put a lot of people behind bars—including you.” Harleen answered.
“And how many times have those criminals escaped from here or from Blackgate Prison?” Joker asked. “You know how many times I’ve broken out of here?” He chuckled. “Batman provides temporary solutions to permanent problems.” His smile turned very dark and sly. “When I deal with it, there’s no coming back from where I send them.” He laughed loudly. “There’s no trial, and they serve life sentences without a snowball’s chance of parole.”
“And you think it a greater service than what Batman does for Gotham?” Harleen asked.
“It’s the real difference between me and the Bat-boy.” Joker answered. “He thinks he’s so great with his little rules and morals, thinking they’ll make him different from people like me. They only put him a step behind the progressive thinkers.”
“Like yourself?” Harleen asked.
“Like me, my dear.” Joker answered. “It’s all about the message: look what I can do.” He smiled.
“And that’s your message? The one you spread every day you’re out there, killing people and blowing stuff up?” Harleen asked.
Joker shook his head. “The message is in the action itself.” He clapped his hands together. “From the first body hitting the front page to the first responders arriving on the scene of the explosion…it’s already there, waiting for everyone to see it.”
“Look at what I can do.” Harleen answered.
“Exactly.” Joker replied, pointing his finger at her. “And I know there’s beyond a doubt ol’ Bat-brain got the message the second it hit the waves.”
Joker gave her a look. “You really think the Bat doesn’t listen to the police broadcasts? He’s knows what’s going on before the detectives do.” He threw a hand up with a scoff. “It’s just like Bats. Always trying to hog all the fun, never letting anyone else have a turn.”
“Why do you say that?” Harleen asked as she wrote it down.
“Batman thinks his morals and codes will be enough to prevent him from being like…well, me.” Joker answered. “He can throw a punch, sure; but it’s not like he’s changing anything by just making sure we stay behind bars.”
“Because you would just escape.”
“Exactly!” Joker said before laughing. “You really think that if Batman pushed himself a little further, Gotham wouldn’t be a better place? If Batman punched a little harder, it’d be his city, not mine.” His tone of voice was more serious. “It’s not enough to lock up the ones who think they’re invincible. In time, they’ll be back out in Gotham, doing just what they were doing.” He smiled. “I’m living proof.”
Harleen stared at Joker intensely. Never before had she seen Joker behave like that, or even speak so honestly. It was not that she did not believe him, but blown away by the sincerity he spoke with in that moment. She did not know why, but she felt a degree of admiration for his speech. “How in the world can you mean all that?”
“What do you mean?” Joker asked, his curiosity growing.
“For a while now, we’ve spoken. You’ve talked about Batman, the crimes that got you readmitted, your daughter…but in that whole time, you were never as serious as you were right then.” Harleen said. “How can you be the person you are and still say all that like you’ve known it for a long time?”
“Because I have known it for a long time.” Joker answered. “I’m not crazy, my dear Harley. I never was. As I’ve said…I’m enlightened.”
“How are you enlightened?” Harleen asked.
“Oh it’s easy, my dear; by exposing my mind to the impossibilities, embracing the anarchy of the truth, and above all…making sure to laugh.” Joker answered.
“What kind of impossibilities?” Harleen asked, appearing genuinely intrigued.
Joker raised an eyebrow. “You really want to know, don’t you?” Harleen was silent, waiting for a straight answer. “Perhaps I’m a bigger negative influence than I thought.” He winked. “Maybe they will let us share a cell after all.” He chuckled.
Harleen sighed, taking her glasses off. “Joker…”
Joker chuckled. “Finally decided to call me Joker? Is the world ending?”
“What made you?” Harleen asked.
“I made me, Harley.” Joker answered. He leaned in. “Who made you?” He smiled.
“What do you mean?” Harleen asked.
“What is it about extreme personalities that draw you in?” Joker asked. “What is it about me that you find so fascinating? Why did you choose Arkham?”
Harleen was unsure how to answer those questions. While she what he said was true, she did not want to give him the satisfaction of being right. She did choose Arkham Asylum, she specialized in extreme cases like Joker, and yes, Harleen did find him a fascinating subject, even before Dr. Wallace assigned her to the case. She cleared her throat as she put her glasses back on. “I think we’ll end it early today.”
“What’s wrong, sweets?” Joker asked.
“We’ll talk again tomorrow.” Harleen answered as she got up from her chair and left the room.
Harleen walked down the stairs, feeling her heartbeat quicken and the loss of her breath. She made it back to her office all right, but her forehead was sweating, and she felt like her heart was about to explode. “Come on, Harley, pull yourself together.” She gasped, realizing what she had done: she had called herself Harley. She sat down at her desk, putting her head in her hands.
A knock hit her door and Dr. Wallace poked his head in. “You all right?” He asked as he entered.
“Yeah. I think I’m just a little under the weather.” Harleen said, fully aware it was not true.
“Do you want to take off a little early today?” Dr. Wallace asked. “You’ve been working a lot of long hours lately.”
“I’m fine.” Harleen answered. “I’ll resume Joker’s sessions tomorrow. I think I just need a little break for today.” She smiled at Dr. Wallace, who took it as a sign she was all right.
“I’m upstairs in my office if you need anything.” Dr. Wallace said.
“Thank you.” Harleen replied. She watched Dr. Wallace as he was ready to leave. “Uh, Dr. Wallace?”
He turned around. “Yes?”
“Did you leave today’s newspaper for me to see earlier?” Harleen asked.
Dr. Wallace shook his head. “No, I didn’t. Why?”
“There was a copy by my door when I came in today.” She answered. “Did you read it?”
He nodded. “The building Joker blew up was a drug warehouse. Who would have thought?”
“Apparently he knew.” Harleen replied. “Even said he was doing the city a favor.”
“How could he have known the old printing factory was full of drugs?” Dr. Wallace asked with a chuckle.
“He said Gotham was his city.” Harleen said. She sighed. “I’m beginning to think he may be right.”
“What makes you say that?” Dr. Wallace asked.
“The way he spoke today…I’ve never heard him sound so genuine.” Harleen answered. “It was…nerve-wracking.”
“You want to talk about it?” Dr. Wallace asked as he sat back down.
“I can’t get a read on him now. When he was just playing around, it was easier to see through him. But now…” Harleen sighed. “I didn’t think he could be that serious.”
“I told you at the beginning that he can use our techniques against us. He’s been in and out of here enough times to get an honorary degree.” Dr. Wallace joked, and it made her smile. “The biggest piece of advice I can give you is this: Joker can’t be real about anything, so assume it’s all a joke.”
“But what if some of it isn’t?” Harleen asked.
“None of it is serious, Harleen.” Dr. Wallace replied. He sighed, seeing that she was still conflicted. “Why don’t you head home, relax and pick it up tomorrow?”
“You may be right.” Harleen answered. “Maybe a good night’s sleep will make me feel better.”
“I know it will.” Dr. Wallace answered with a smile. He got up and exited her office, turning down the hall and up the stairs.
Joker laughed as he entered Interview Room 6 to see Dr. Wallace sitting there waiting for him. “Where’s my sweet Harley?” He asked as the guard sat him down. “Or is it just you and me, Wally?”
“She’s not feeling well right now and left for the day. She’ll resume your sessions tomorrow.” Dr. Wallace answered. “Besides, I wanted to talk to you.”
“Is that so? Hmm…maybe some flowers will cheer her up. Or maybe some chocolates! Girls still like chocolate, right?” Joker asked with a smile.
Dr. Wallace waited until the guard left the room and shut the door behind him. He looked back to Joker. “You really threw her for a loop today.”
“Well, that was the point.” Joker said while looking down at his fingernails. “Wasn’t it, Doctor?” Joker leaned in, smiling a more sinister smile. “You sent in a green employee with no prior exposure to my charms to see how long it takes for me to get under her skin.” He chuckled. “It was as much a study for your benefit as it was of her to have her wish of dealing with extremist villains. A very naughty move.” He grinned a very entertained smile. “I approve.”
“She’s still in control.” Dr. Wallace answered.
“Is she? Hmm, I hadn’t noticed. I’ve been busy.” Joker replied. He chuckled. “She is a wonderful girl, though. Maybe I’ll look her up after I decide to escape.”
“Decide to escape?” Dr. Wallace asked.
“Well, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I’ll just have to enjoy her company for three hours a day, every day.” Joker smiled.
“You can get under her skin, but you can’t break her.” Dr. Wallace said.
“I’m not trying to break her, Doctor.” Joker answered with a smile. “I’m simply trying to rev her engine.” Joker said before cackling loudly.
Harleen was still sitting at her office, sighing. She had finally stopped sweating and her heartbeat was back to normal. She still felt flustered and all she could hear in her mind was Joker’s laugh and his voice whispering Harley over, and over.
“I should probably head home.” Harleen said to herself. She got up from her chair and went for her office door. She opened it, but did not leave. Harleen stood under the archway of her office door, thinking, but she became distracted, noticing a single red rose lying at her feet. “What the—” She bent down to pick it up, noticing a single piece of paper tied to its stem.
Here’s to date #5 –J
Her heart raced again. She completely ignored the question of how Joker got the flower there, sniffed the rose before heading back into her office, leaving it on her desk. Harleen sat back down at her desk, eyeing the rose with barely a blink to interrupt her admiration of Joker’s thoughtfulness. She did not know how much time had passed before she turned her computer on again and opened her documents.
Joker Session 4 Notes by Dr. Harleen Quinzel
Today, the Joker did something I never thought possible. He was genuine. There were no jokes, no tangents, just straight truth about he saw the world. He said that he was enlightened, not crazy.
I truly cannot say for sure that he was lying, but I cannot confirm anything he’s said in our sessions was remotely true as well. I honestly cannot help but feel a small level of admiration for Joker, as well as sympathy. In my previous notes, I mentioned there was a confined part of Joker’s personality that just wants to make the world laugh.
That’s really the only way I can see him now. The Joker is willing to do anything, even incite violence and mayhem—just to make the world laugh.