by Mistah Js girl
"Everyone has seen the Joker laugh, only Harley has seen him cry." -Arleen Sorkin
Harley Quinn. That name. I know that name.
I thought no other name besides Batman would ever evoke any kind of emotion in me…but that name. I'm not supposed to care, I know. It's me. Is it care?
I don't know.
All I know is that in my stomach, no, not my stomach, but not my heart either. Behind my heart. If I could reach into my chest, in all that blackness and goo and search for this thing, I would see it behind the empty pit of my heart. It's small and warm and hiding. Like a disease.
Or no, not desire, because I know desire. But this, thing, this, it's like something I never felt before, like a kiss. It doesn't matter what it is, I think I know what it's called. But it can't be. Because I can't…even if I wanted to, could I? How can you, with no heart? I know there is only coldness. Inside me is an abyss. Black. Hated. Rage. Death. Madness.
No. Can't be.
That woman, that crazy beautiful woman. How did this happen? I'm a wreck. When did I…feel. How can I describe? No, I won't describe it, I'll just tell you.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
~ Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now.
Don't be ashamed to cry,
let me see you through
Cause I've seen the dark side too.
When the night falls on you,
you don't know what to do,
Nothing you confess
could make me love you less
I'll stand by you ~The Pretenders
Like any other day, I sat idly in my cell, my feet up, relaxing on my bunk. I was plotting the demise of someone or tracing the steps in my mind down into some dark cellar. Thoughts of death and destruction fluttering through my mind. Beautiful butterflies lighting gently around the cell, giving it life and beauty.
I would watch them. Then smack them all down with a tattered fly swatter. Watch their wings smashed, bloody. Not red, but gooey butterfly blood. Sticky. I was relaxing, as I mentioned, I hadn't been in Arkham too long then. I don't know how long, time is abstract.
Time is meaningless. I don't remember my last game, they are all distant and blurry. You'd think I'd remember each one perfectly, why it went wrong and all that. But I don't.
I remember shadow shapes shifting through my dreams. I'm aware of them, like a child watching the shadow of a monster grow in the darkness. If I try and understand them it'll only hurt, so I look away. When you are small they tell you to close your eyes and it'll all go away. They lied. The shadows are still there when you open your eyes again.
Suddenly there was a buzz through the halls, the wards we're alight with the merry sounds of screaming and jumping. A visitor. Someone new. Hoots and hollers echoed up to my ears. Was that a whistle? A woman? All the women at Arkham aren't much to whistle at.
I pressed my ear against the door. A female voice. Not Leland's, and Doc. Arkham never sounded so girlish.
I jumped back on the bed. I've never really cared about women much, they are just trouble. They distract you from what you need to be doing. Nothing like a woman to bring down a man. They've been doing it since the beginning of time. I've never given a second thought to women. I've got bigger things to go after. There are many more satisfying things. Women are fleeting but power, control, these endure. The city in the palm of your hand. That lasts.
The click of her high heels on the cold floors. She was warm. I could feel her, like someone lit a huge fire. She was alive. Alive? No. No. She couldn't be. Very rarely do I find another real person. Another living person. I can look at them all, they are cold, walking corpses. But sometimes, once in a while, I feel the warmth. It burns. It hurts. But, it's something.
Yes, I did hear her. I felt her. I could even smell her. She wore a soft sweet perfume. Something cheap, you could buy it at a drug store. No one else in Arkham wore perfume. Maybe she was a student. Just passing through to see the loonies. A field trip to the zoo. Well she wouldn't see me. I'm no second rate psycho. No, only the "professionals" get to see me.
Then I heard her, outside my door, my big steal door. "Is this?" I hear her say. Her voice flutters, like one of the butterflies. Landing softly upon my ears. "The Joker?" I feel her put her hand against the door. The room is flooded with warmth. I shiver. I've been cold so long.
"Yes." Replies Leland coldly, "But you won't be seeing him. He's deranged and very dangerous."
She stands in the white hallway, it's lined with steal enforced doors. This is the high security ward. The florescent lights are bright and harsh, they cast vast shadows, they threaten to swallow you whole. She stands there, my phantom girl, with one hand pressed against my door. Her eyes move across the little plate, she reads: The Joker. She examines those bold black letters, she glances at the dead bolt, at the little steal sliding window. She imagines me. Imagining is always the first step. Over the edge.
She imagines me. In her mind I'm laying on my cot, just as I am. In her mind there are dark shadows on my pale face and a smile tugging at the corners of my mouth. Just as there is. Only in her mind moonlight streams in through my window. Really it's an early smoggy morning.
Am I grotesque to her? Do I frighten her? Will she have a nightmare about me tonight? Will she dream of me chasing her down a dark alley with a knife, just around every corner. Am I a monster?
I want to say yes, because I know that I am.
But to her, what am I?
She keeps her hand against the door. So long. She doesn't want to let go. She leaves her finger prints. They melt the steal. They penetrate.
Leland and Arkham force her on. I hear her walk away. The click, clack, click, clack of her high heeled shoes on the empty floor.
I hear her ask, ever so faintly, her voice gets lost down the hall, "Who does see the Joker?"
My phantom girl. What do I call her? She must be a doctor, why else would Leland tell her she won't be seeing me. That implies she will see patients. Patients. If we are patients this must be the cancer ward then. We are decaying while they force electroshock therapy on us, to cure us. They want to kill the virus inside our minds, but they are only killing us. They want to open up our skulls and slice it out. It's not a little piece of our brain. It's not in the brain. It's not in the liver. It's not in the lungs. It's spread through our whole body and beyond. We are the virus.
I thought about her. A lot. How many days passed before I heard anything about her again, I couldn't say. But it didn't matter. She existed in my mind. She was mine already. I never saw her whole. Just little bits and pieces of her. I was putting together a puzzle. Her shoes were first. They were black. Shiny. Heeled. Then her ankles, they were slender. You could see the sleek bone. Her shapely calves.
It wasn't about her being a woman. And I assure you, it wasn't about sex. Sex, actually, didn't cross my mind. Sex is a means to an end. Sex is a way to achieve something. A way to get a certain feeling. It is not the only way. It's a quick way. But the fastest way to get something isn't always the best. People don't look for other ways to achieve what they want.
What is sex?
The results are nearly limitless. And they can be boiled down to central emotions. You can get these same emotions through other things.
Sex. It's as abstract as time. Don't be fooled by the numbers.
I was certainly aroused by her. But I did not want to have sex with her. Maybe.
Arousal and sex are not the same. Excitement. Reaching satisfaction. Sex is so insufficient.
Time passed, then one day I saw Dent somewhere passing through some dark corridor that I was also passing through. A bleak tear in the very fabric of time or just on the way to dinner? We were passing each other, retreating back into the darkness of our cells. The quit solitude of our coffins. Back from some pseudo-chemotherapy no doubt. Our minds and bodies full of toxins. We were passing each other when the monster in him whispers to me from that hideous deformed face of his, "Have you seen her yet?"
I don't reply to him. I blink though.
"I wouldn't mind giving it to her." He snarls, smirking.
I "accidentally" punch him in crotch. It's a terrible reflex. A small incident breaks out in the hall and somehow I end up getting brutally clubbed. They really like to club me. And they say I'm the sadistic one. They carry around big hard clubs and beat me with them if I blink wrong. I've come to the secure conclusion it's too make up for the size of their penises. Not that I care. It never feels like anything. Darkness and dream silhouettes wash over me.
I wake up on the stone floor, blood matted in my hair. He thinks he's getting away with it, but I'll remember. One night I'll run into him in a dark hallway and show him how to really use that club. You can't forget what you don't fully remember. But I'll know him when I run into him. And he'll know me. They always know me. Like the face of death. Smiling. When they see me, they know.
She was different. I saw her, we passed each other in the hall. She was leaving the feeding trough they call a cafeteria. I was entering.
I saw her.
I knew it was her. I knew it was her because she looked at me different. No one has ever looked at me like that. It was almost as if she saw what I could see. The world around me was always open. I could see what they didn't see, I could hear the voices in the air, follow the beat of my own heart. They can only hear the sounds of traffic and the muddled gibberish on the evening news.
I see more. They think I'm so insane and maybe I am, if that's what you want to call it. I understand what they refuse to understand. I see what they hide from. They tune out the incessant rattling in their minds, I tune mine in. I listen.
To them everything has to be scientific, everything has to have a reason, everything has to fit neatly into categories.
There are no categories that could hold the madness of this world.
Sometimes there is no reason. My mind isn't broken, it's highly tuned. Theirs is broken, theirs is unperceptive. They can't receive. Sanity, normality, it means knowing less, it means accepting what you are told, it means there is a reason for all.
Sanity is a lie. The sane are weak, it is only when they are forced to truly see life and understand pain that they can break through the bounds of sanity and find that it is all abstract, it is all open to interpretation. Most of them don't though, most of them choose to hide from reality with medication and the soothing fabrication of a therapist.
You can't hide from your mind forever.
They are afraid. They are disgusted, I always saw it in their eyes.
She had big blue eyes. They were smiling eyes. Grinning eyes. Giggling eyes. She looked at me. We were only a few yards apart. I could smell that gentle cheap perfume. The kind of thing a girl would wear. But she, she looked like a woman.
Her blonde hair was up in a tight twist, she wore black framed glasses, sitting on the tip of her round nose. Her mouth was soft and full and red. It was a girl's mouth. But her body, all woman.
She didn't smile at me. She looked. She saw me. I must have looked so repulsive, so foolish, so dirty. My hair hung to my shoulders in unwashed curls. I had a bruise on my face from the other night and I was limping lightly, though I can't recall why.
In all those stories they act like I seduced her, like I chased her down. Yes, I wanted her. But she wanted me first.
In that doorway. I was entering, she was leaving, we might have touched. In that passage, she wanted me. She seduced me with her eyes.
She looked at me, this woman, no longer a apparition. No longer a figment of my imagination. She was so young. How did she ever get this job?
"After noon Dr. Quinzel." The guard dragging me along said to her. The way he was looking at her! I was burning with rage. How dare he, he was nothing. He was just a bastard who liked to abuse his position. A common idiot. He looked at her like he ought to have her.
She smiled, "Good afternoon Ernie." Her eyes darted to mine. They flickered, like a light, SOS. Blink once for yes, twice for no. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Her eyes portrayed her and mine must have betrayed me. It was only a second. But she must have seen everything. I felt it. When we looked at each other. She looked forever and saw everything. She saw something I still can't see. She saw that place behind the dead shell that is my heart.
That stupid bastard pulled me through the door. She stood there, watching me walking away. I tried to act causal. I never felt so ugly.
"You interested in her Ernie?" I ask.
"Shut your hole." You have to love replies like that.
"You don't have a chance in hell." I say, calmly.
He looks hurt, then practically throws me in my cell. I'm taller than him, and most of the people in here. But I'm not exactly in the best condition if my life. I could still kill him before he could even gurgle the word help. I didn't weight much when I came in here and I've lost weight.
A good murder has nothing to do with how big or strong you are though. Murder doesn't have a thing to do with brute strength. You can do it without even working up a sweat. If you know what your doing. I do.
Dr. Quinzel. So that was her name. And that was her face. A fully constructed image in my mind. Lingering, like the last few red embers. Smoldering. No more a fragment, but still part of a fantasy. One I could not even comprehend.
That night dawned slowly and the stars were scattered diamonds, few and far between in that violent Gotham sky. The stars were nearly blotted out by the lights and I could see the city in the distance. I stood peering out that insignificant window, looking at the world. The city was so bright, like someone set it ablaze. The flames licked the blackening sky. There was smoke on the air, I could taste it. Ashes with the hint of human flesh.
I know she was watching it too. Dr. Quinzel was not the right name for her, I knew it then. It was not really her name, it was a name she must forget. Behind that name there was another name, her real name.
I had another name once. Like her. She and I, we are very much alike. Survives. We could endure the virus while it destroyed others. We hosted it, we carried it. Yes, it affected us, but it could not kill us.
She was watching the city burn from her beige office, standing next to her window. Watching the ashes scatter, feeling the shadow of the Bat descend over the city. The colors, it was beautiful. A burning sunset of auburn and ash.
I wanted to see her. The sky darkened until it was like tar and the city was a flicking orange light. She would be gone.
I left my cell and slid down the hall. I was a shadow. They couldn't see me. I crept along the walls, I know this old house better than anyone. Rattling screams filled the air. The smell of medicine was strong and thick, like a hazy yellow cloud.
I ran my finger down the roster, Dr. Quinzel, Harleen. 2nd floor, 204. Harleen? That's unusual. The nurse snored lightly from her seat and I slipped away. 204.
The door opened easily and shut quickly. Her office was dark. Files lay scattered on her desk, her office remained very impersonal. I shifted through her files.
All about me. Pictures, news paper cut outs, reports and analysis. Lies, fabrications. They don't understand me. They don't see me. The things inside my mind, not even I know these things truly, so how can they?
She highlighted them, read and reread them. I saw her sitting in here going through paper after paper, the yellow highlighter in her hand. Whispering the words she read, whispering my name. Evoking me into existence. She was summoning me.
I laid the rose and the note on her desk. It was dark and I was using the shadow passages, an intruder. Summoned by her.
Not by Dr. Quinzel. Dr. Quinzel was merely doing research. Harley. Harley Quinn, she was obsessing. Sitting here under the harsh lights, watching the shadows move on the pale walls, listening to the screams and sobs of this old house. Listening to the ghosts move in the hall. Her blonde hair cascading down her slender shoulders. Her chest heaving lightly with each breath, her breasts pressed against the tight suit jacket. Her badge pinned neatly to her right breast.
I was gone and it was morning, then night again. The city was cool now, it was repairing, healing. I could taste the old blood on the air. The shadow of the Bat moving across the city. The protector. Like death he swoops upon you. Like death he delivers you.
When the sky was deep purple and the clouds were red she came. I was waiting for her, because I knew she'd come. In her heart she was afraid, but behind her heart she had never been afraid in her life. And she knew, knew, that I would not hurt her.
She was bold. She was fearless. The mark of the insane. She knew the peril and the devastation that I'd caused. With my right hand I would call them to me and with my left I would stab them. The blood would run down the streets and fill the city.
She was not afraid because she knew, it was not I who tainted this city, but them. The
Institution. Weapons of mass deception.
I heard the key in the lock. She is so crafty. The door took a breath as she pushed it open. She had no choice but to let it close behind her, or I might escape. It sealed her in like a tomb.
Her hair was long and down, in light waves. She was serious, stern, brandishing the rose. Her voice was hard and unwavering, but her body was soft, it would give under my hand. She said she would turn me in, but her eyes said otherwise.
"Care to tell me how this got in my office?" Her mouth was red and wet.
I was leaning against the back wall, all she could see was the pale of my face and the scarlet of my smile. I was grinning.
"I put it there."
She stood her ground. I could have killed her in moments and she knew it. Who was she not to fear death?
"I see. I think the guards and Dr. Arkham would be interested to know you've been out of your cell."
I moved forward. "If you were really going to tell them…" I was upon her, almost, so close, "You already would have."
We were close enough to touch. I could smell the soft perfume. How I must have looked to her and yet she never flinched.
Curly green hair hanging to my shoulders, matted and messy. The darkness protecting me, just my pale emerald and gold eyes and grotesque grin looking back at her.
She never looked away. Her eyes were like glass. Wide, but not staring. I couldn't have killed her if I wanted to. I was too confused.
Her eyes did not show horror. She was amazed. Intrigued. Fascinated.
"Your name." I whispered, "Harley Quinn. Harlequin."
She almost smiled, but she was too serious, to busy looking at me, to distracted by something inside myself that I cannot find. "I know." Was all she said.
I took another step towards her, now we couldn't get any closer. There was the sound of footfalls somewhere close.
She turned, "I will tell Dr. Arkham if you leave this cell again." She looked at me, "Do you understand?"
I smiled, wide and winked at her, "Crystal clear."
The door shut, locking her out. But she had the key, and I never needed it.
It was starting. That feeling. But it wasn't quite there yet, not all the way, not the way it is now. Almost there.
It was a long time before I met with her again, but I saw her often in my mind. I saw her sitting on her bed, in her bland apartment. Looking at pictures of me. I saw her in a big t-shirt and panties, curled up on her bed with the files. She would have stolen them by now. I saw her fingers, slim and long flicking the pages. Her hair down her body.
I never understood why she wanted me. It was so strange. Who was she? She was so obscure to me. So ambiguous. She was a beautiful woman, yet she spent hours pouring over my information. She pressed the rose I gave her. She looked at it daily. She ran her fingers over the note.
I was feeling feelings. Strange ones. Ones I don't understand. They almost hurt they were so strange. I felt trapped to her will, wanting her because I had to understand her. I had to claim her. She had to be my own. It was only fair.
No one ever wanted me before.
It seemed as though she must have known some great secret about me. Something even I did not know.
A roach scuttled across the floor. It's shadow was small at first, then it grew. It enveloped the room. It was bigger than me, bigger than all of the asylum. Nothing could contain it, and it was no roach any longer. The roach was the creatures eyes, the roach was a spy.
The shadow stretched out forever, with big black leather wings. There were huge sharp talons on the end of each wing and millions of tiny sharp teeth in it's fierce hungry mouth.
It's eyes were angry with the burning fire of justice.
I hid under my cot. I thought it might not see me there. But I was only fooling myself because it doesn't need to see me, it can hear me. It can hear my heart beat. It's always watching me, always following me. It's waiting.
Waiting for the moment to rip it's talons into my body and tear out my beating heart. It hunts me. Haunts me.
When I wake up guards are coming to my cell to escort me out, things have happened while I slept. Days passed, weeks, months even. Time that just slipped away unseen. I try and figure out what day it is, all I know is that it's day light. The days are blurred. The colors and pictures all run together until there is nothing but an unrecognizable smear.
That smear is my life.
Sometimes insanity is subtle, the slow decay of the obvious. Sometimes insanity isn't one day killing all your co-workers or screaming about the aliens watching you. Sometimes insanity is just the sun melting into the sapphire sky. It happens little by little, the sun dripping into the sky until one day you look up and it's all green. You barely even wonder why, because it happened so slowly you didn't notice.
Your not insane until your insanity is normal to you. Until you tell yourself that the sky was always green. Until you forget your name, letter by letter. Until your name blurs into another name and your not sure which is real.
What is real.
I arrived at her door, hands cuffed and my right ankle chained to my seat. She sat behind the desk with a note pad and a pen, smiling.
She was cheery. Exuberant.
"Ah!" She says as the guards leave, they look wary of me, unsure, but they follow her orders. "Joker? Mr. Joker? What do you prefer?" The hint of what to come in her voice.
I raise an eye brow at her, "Joker is fine."
I know I haven't seen her in so long, but her face has been so fresh in my mind I feel as though I know her already. Do I love her already? That word, it's so hard to even think. I wish I could replace it, I just want to say 'Do I "you know" her already?' Or maybe I could just put in a totally unrelated word like, 'Do I penguin her already?'
"Wonderful!" She's jubilant. Her blue eyes are beaming, her blonde hair is pulled back loosely. Her blouse isn't buttoned up enough. Or maybe, it's just right.
"I know you've already taken so many tests and I don't know if you'll even talk to me." She looked at me as she spoke, what she was really saying was that she was like me. She was asking for a chance to get to me.
"I just want to get to know you." See, I know that's what she was asking for.
No one has ever really wanted to get to know me before. What does that entail?
I sit motionless. I'm speechless. The Joker is speechless.
She says nothing for an awkward moment, "Lets get started then. I'm not sure we've ever been formally introduced." She offers one dainty hand, "I'm Dr. Quinzel." She pretends the meeting in my cell never happened.
I smile, "I know." I don't take her hand instead I jangle my cuffs smirking, "I'm a little tied up right now."
She smiles. What a smile.
"Dr. Quinzel?" I ask her. This is really where the fun begins, she knows this and I know this. This is when we start to play the game. "May I call you Harley?"
She looks taken aback on the outside but pleased on the inside.
"I don't really think that's appropriate."
"Please? It would make me feel more comfortable with you."
"Let me think about it." She says, smiling.
We smile at each other.
Her smile is genuine. Such a rare thing.
I told her things. Shadow-truths, perhaps. But, I only remember glimpses of the truth. If there is anything true about me, she knows. The stories change but the truth is still there, somewhere. Circumstances shift, they rearrange themselves but the truth exists.
I didn't lie. How can you lie when you don't know the truth? I didn't manipulate. I just told her what I remembered, what I thought might be right. I admit, maybe some of it was what she wanted to hear. But it was all true, except what wasn't.
Maybe my dad didn't break my nose. Maybe he did. The things you can't remember tell the things you can't forget.
I only see the shadow of a fist slamming into my face. My dad's or Batman's?
Her eyes were understanding, her arms were warm. Her mouth was sweet.
You know all the things I've told her by now, you must think you know everything about how we met. But there is one secret, I knew I was in love with her then. This is the story only Harley knows.
Time eclipses me, my mind is overrun. Darkness penetrates and rapes my mind. Black clouds move over areas of my life and all is lost. I drown in my own thoughts until they aren't even my own.
Until they own me.
If it seems like I don't love her, know that I kill those who I want gone and I try and kill those I need desperately. So desperately that my desire, my need tortures me.
Harley Quinn is the weakness in me.
I was sitting on the sofa, she was next to me.
There I was. Whoever I was. So long ago. It wasn't some sorted story of abuse. It was no horror story. There was no mix of truth or lies. No shadows lurked in this story, because this was no story.
She looked at me, "What do you feel?" She asked me like this was such a simple thing.
It's so complex, I have to ask myself what it is I do feel. And I realized, then, looking at her. It's not what I do feel, it's what I don't feel.
"Nothing." I said.
"You must feel something." She was always pushing me for answers. I know she was my doctor and that was her job, but she made a real career out of it. Some doctors will settle for nothing, they will interpret, but not Harley. Harley wanted answers.
"I don't know." I told her.
"What feelings can you remember ever having."
I shrugged, "Angry maybe. Excitement." It was more of a question than an answer.
"What about love?" She asked.
"I've never felt that." I had never said it before. But it was true. It wasn't all those abusive childhood stories, it wasn't my father beating me up or any of that. The truth was under there. Under the surface of those stories, the truth remained evident. I'd never felt loved by anyone. Maybe they weren't so bad to me. But they never really loved me.
Something happened then, I looked at her and she was crying gently. A few tears rolled down her face, her eyes were wide. Full of sorrow, full of life.
I felt something I had never felt before. A hand touching mine tenderly. Her hand.
I knew I loved her then. Not because she was crying, but because I could see in the reflection of her eyes that I was.
~ I'll stand by you.
Take me into your darkest hour,
and I'll never desert you.
I'll stand by you.
And when, when the night falls on you baby,
you're feeling all alone,
You won't be on your own,
I'll stand by you. ~ The Pretenders