It all began with a run of the mill home invasion. The Joker and Harley had just made their exit from Arkham Asylum, and were making their way back to Gotham via a small suburb called Lonesome Pines- a dull little stretch of modern america, composed of strip malls, identical houses, clean streets and small parks. The Joker was nauseated by the whole place- it was all an illusion crafted to allow the suburbanites to pretend that violence, injustice and decay were mere legends rather than the key elements of the world. It was a soulless, dead wasteland populated by people who'd traded life and freedom for safety and a dental plan.

Still, he wanted to slip back into Gotham quietly and this was the best way to do it. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Joker knew he typically avoided suburbia like the plague.

It was for this reason that the Clown Prince of Crime and his moll were cruising along Tranquility Road on a warm July evening. The Joker had been silent for a long time, as he planned what to do to announce his triumphant return to Gotham, and Harley was idly daydreaming as she drove down the uncrowded avenue. She pictured life with her beloved Mista J in one of these cozy little houses with their white picket fences- barbecuing together, driving the kids to school, capturing and torturing the mailman…

She was snapped out of her reverie by the Joker's hand on her shoulder. "Stop here!" he snapped. No sooner had the purple convertible pulled over, then the lanky lunatic leapt over the door and raced to a nearby house. He was halfway up the front walk when Harley joined him, and asked what they were doing.

"Obtaining funds, oh-ye-of-little-brains" the Joker replied "We have a lot saved up in my many dummy accounts, but I can't get to it until we're in the city. We need money to get us into Gotham- gas money, bribe money, food money, money for ammunition, money for clothes, money for goons, money to get Bud and Lou out of the zoo…"

"So, we're gonna rob these folks, Puddin'?" Harley asked.

"KEE-RECT my dim little Clown" the madman said, straightening his tie as reached the door. "These particular suburban slugs seem to have a lot of nice things. But more than that, look at the lawn. What do you see? Never mind, I know you won't get it. I see a For Sale sign with a sticker on it saying Sold. Plus, that Porsche in the drive has cans attached to it. These folks are new here, and they're newlyweds, so there's less chance of the neighbors getting concerned about odd noises. In fact, if we're lucky, the neighbors won't be suspicious for days! After all, we all know that newlyweds like their privacy! HAHAHAHAHAHAA!"

Harley sighed. Her man was a genius, that's all there was to it. She watched, enraptured, as her wonderful lover rapped on the door. After a moment, a man opened the door wide. He was very nearly the Joker's height and almost as skinny but that's where the similarity ended. This man had thinning brown hair, acne scars and glasses. "yes, can I help you?"

"Why yes my good sir" The Joker said courteously as he shoved the man backwards into the house "Yes, I believe you can. Get the door Harley, we mustn't leave our hosts all the work."

Afterwards, when the newlyweds were nothing more than grinning cadavers on the living room floor, the Joker decided to investigate this suburban jail cell. He left Harley to dispose of the bodies and ventured upstairs. The couple, Alice and Paul Stebbs, had just finished moving in, and their choice of décor in the hall lived down to the Joker's expectations. Cheap, mass-produced furniture and overly bright carpeting, combined with a number of bad knock-off paintings. No portraits- doubtless something so maudlin had no place in their public image. He'd barely spoken to the Stebbs' yet he already knew them; young, ambitious, pretentious. He felt nothing but contempt for them, and was glad they were dead.

Entering the master bedroom, he paused to empty the jewelry box into his pocket- gaudy though they were, he was sure Alice's jewels would be worth something. The closet seemed like a good place to look for more valuables.

Harley had quickly finished dismembering the bodies- she had a lot of experience- and was putting them into various plastic bags (for easy transport), and idly pictured what life would be like in this house. As usual, her daydreams bore a striking resemblance to a 1950's sitcom. Her Puddin' would come home after a long day at the office, and greet her with a kiss. Joker Junior and Little Harlene would run up to give their father a big hug, chattering nonstop about setting Teacher's coat on fire (while she was wearing it). 'Dad' carving the roast for dinner, making high pitched screams with every stroke of the knife while the kids laughed… she sighed.

Those were nice dreams, but they wouldn't be happening any time soon. The Joker was simply far too driven a man- his commitment to his goals too close to obsession- for any such future to be realized. He was just such a classic type A personality, and unsuited to the slow pace of domestic life. Such personalities tended to work themselves unceasingly, as any psychologist knew, so Harley had to put her dreams of family bliss aside…at least until that mean ol' Bratman was out of the way!

She heard footsteps approaching, and ran out into the hallway, determined to show her Puddin' what a good job she'd done. She stopped when she saw the Joker, and stood with her mouth open in shock. The Joker had changed his clothes, abandoning his trademark purple zoot suit in favor of brown slacks and a dark green sweater vest. On his feet were light brown loafers and in one hand he carried a wooden pipe. It was as though her dream had come to life.

"Will you look at this, Harl? The poor shlub who lived here was just my size! Pity he didn't have better taste in clothes or we could have taken some with us" He noticed his sidekick standing mute in the hallway, staring at him. "What are you staring at?!" He snapped "Get the bodies together and-"

DINGDONG! The doorbell chimed cheerily, interrupting the crazed clown's instructions.

The Joker snapped his attention back to Harley "I'll get the door. You get those bodies out of sight!" The Joker strode to the door. Before opening it he looked back and made sure Harley was out of sight, then he swung the door open.

On the step stood a youngish black couple- he was short and beginning to lose his hair, while she was clearly putting on weight. They were dressed in nice clothes, and he carried a casserole dish which steamed gently in the night air. Both looked extremely startled at his appearance- but soon recovered.

"Oh, I'm sorry a-are we interrupting something?" the man said, timorously.

The woman shot her (husband? He assumed so. Domestic lemmings were so predictably traditional) an angry look and lightly slapped him on the arm. "George! Can't you see he's getting ready for a costume party? We'll come back another time, we just wanted to introduce ourselves.

The Joker had long ago noticed that the teeming masses rarely believed that he was , in fact, the Joker. He had become such a dark legend in Gotham- such a malignant myth- that they couldn't believe that he could look anything like his real appearance. This in spite of the dearth of photographs of him circulating- the plebes just couldn't believe he looked human. The Clown Prince of Crime had listened to stories that described him as seven and a half feet tall, with the physique of that Blue Buffoon of Metropolis. Others gave him fangs like a demon, and skin that actually glowed in the dark. They never expected him to look like a pale, green haired, lanky man- it was just too ordinary. With that in mind, and given his unusual clothes, he probably should have expected them to assume his face was part of a costume.

'Mind you,' he thought 'It's always such fun proving my identity…' And that gave him the idea for a whole new game.

"Oh, don't worry about it." he said " Always got time to meet the neighbors. Come on in!"


The comments on suburban life are meant to reflect the view of the Joker and Harley, not my own.