"Have you seen the latest video?"
She sighed audibly over the phone. He took that as confirmation.
"A psychologists dream patient, wouldn't you say."
"That is no patient," she said, speaking for the first time. "That is Pandora's box."
"'That' is the most interesting man in Gotham."
"Even more so than you?" She deliberately taunted him.
"I can't compete with him. By now you've reviewed my plan. What are your thoughts on the matter?"
"I have no thoughts as there is no matter."
"Now now Eleanor, play nice. He's exactly your type."
She scoffed. "I prefer my madmen a little more… kempt."
"Is that really holding you back? Is that the hand of restraint?"
"Maybe I don't think I can compete with him either."
"I thought that of all things would spur you into action."
There was a pause in the conversation. He could practically imagine her recrossing her long legs, rearranging herself on the leather couch, mulling it over. She was visible perfection. But it was a mask. Hiding one of the most sinister minds, it was a beautifully ironic display of dichotomy.
It made her his equal. Well almost.
"Jonathan, look at him. He has no natural desires. He is pure and absolute. A sociopath in the most extreme form! What makes you think I could tempt him?"
"My dear, you could tempt Satan."
"Regardless," she brushed away the flattery, "he doesn't care about physical beauty."
"No but he does like an enigma."
Another pause. "Go on!"
"He is a man who likes to understand everything about him, likes to read people. What better way to deduce the perfect manner in which to thrust our world into spiralling chaos."
"A pretty description."
"Not pretty at all. Dark, powerful, manic."
Eleanor breath hitched and Jonathan knew it wasn't fear. He grinned, already feeling the flush of success.
"See my dear, your reaction is absolute evidence of your suitability for the job."
"Am I to assume that my job is to be the enigma in question?"
"You mean, who is more sick and twisted?"
"You have the intellect and the training. You are my femme fatale!"
"So you are saying I am sick and twisted." She was forcing him to say it. She loved hearing him say it.
"Ever notice how the ones drawn to our profession are usually the ones most in need of dire attention." He evaded the question.
"That isn't an answer."
Jonathan refused to relent that easily. He'd make her work for it if she really wanted it. "How would you describe it?"
He let out a low chuckle. "Yes but with you that's less of a description and more of a clinical disorder."
"I'm ground breaking."
"In more ways than one. Am I to assume you are committed?"
"No but you can assume that I am willing to hear more details."
Jonathan had a full blown smirk. The Joker was getting a therapist.
Eleanor Laurence was stupendous and it wasn't because of her beauty. In the day and age of plastic surgery, flawlessness was common place. On first meeting her in college he had dismissed her out of hand. A rich kid killing time before she married a similarly rich husband.
What he discovered was a genius woman, a visionary mind and completely devoid of ethics. Elegant and sumptuous but hard as a tack underneath. She had been an integral sounding board when he had developed his fear elixir. Excited at the revolutionary and cruel concept.
Eleanor however had a deep seated attraction to similar minds. Not the pathetic whining patients that they treated and diagnosed with the standard boring disorders of schizoid paranoia. She loved her sociopaths, the criminally and clinically insane, the split personalities, the mastermind unhindered by morals.
She had been out of the country for a few years, studying religion and acceptable behaviour of the tribes in Africa. Jonathan had loathed every minute of her absence knowing she was wasted on such a conventional venture.
He wanted her back in the cesspool that was Gotham. Eleanor was the closest thing he had to a friend and, he believed, his soul mate. Jonathan suspected she felt the same but it would be too simple to admit it to each other. Almost a weakness. Neither was going to be the one to break.
She was the only woman worthy of this scheme. The only one with such a predilection towards the insane.
Jonathan didn't have such a primal interest in The Joker. He thought him a little too brash. A little too vulgar. Certainly he was a fascinating animal but he was far too public. Insanity is fine, tolerated by society even, as long as you do it in private.
The Joker was broad casting on national TV, revelling and wicked in his self created pandemonium. Taunting the masked vigilante.
Inside his own fractured mind, Jonathan recognised an opportunity when it presented itself. He was pragmatic to a fault. He acknowledged The Joker as the force of nature he was and was downright gleeful with the proposals he could concoct with that type of power. He just needed the appropriate person to guide this force. Edge it to the right direction.
There was a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach that Eleanor might get hurt in the process. Too insubstantial to be defined as guilt but there all the same. Still sacrifices must be made for great discovery to be made. A bit like Jesus.
He laughed outright at the idea of comparing Eleanor to Jesus. Eleanor was a bad woman, she was no saint.
Eleanor reclined in her chair and swirled her glass of red wine. Expensive but she basked in physical pleasures. She loved money for what it allowed her to do and what she did was awful, disgusting, debasing… delicious.
Jonathan was using her for something. He may be the epic love of her warped life but he would manipulate her straight into her grave for his own advancement.
She knew all this so she had to think his proposition over carefully. What was in it for her?
She had arrived back in the city for the social event of the season it seemed. She had heard of the fiasco this Batman had caused and her first moments back home had been a testimony to the spreading niceness. Like a fucking plague.
There was one shining beacon of hope for people who didn't really fit inside the social order. The Joker. A man so terrifying Eleanor shuddered at the idea. She wondered if there were any remnants of a man inside him or if he was all belief and anarchy.
She hadn't been attracted to him either. His obvious disdain for hygiene appalled her. This body of hers should be respected and worshipped. It was her temple. Granted she had an altar to dark desires but sacred nonetheless. That man touching her? However the more she saw the more she wanted to know.
She had been disappointed when he had been thrust behind bars and she cursed batman for protecting a society that hunted him. Not any more. Yesterday had brought the thrilling news. He had escaped. It also brought Jonathan's proposition.
Eleanor wondered if his vendetta against Batman was behind him throwing in his cards with The Joker.
She returned again to the ultimate question. How could this benefit her?
It would be a tantalising social experiment. The man was such a complicated combination of contradictions. He claimed he had no plans but he had pulled off such artistic debacles he needed to have some cohesion and organisation.
His origin unknown but his behaviour reeked of professional training. An uncanny understanding of fighting and explosives. An absolute fearlessness and disregard for pain but survival instincts. Down right eerie knack of pin pointing exactly a person's weakness. He wouldn't define her. She was unpredictable.
No known motivation. The makeup mask and horrifying scars. Still as unusual as it stood all of this could be written off as a jovial nut jobs desire to annoy. That was Eleanor's original assessment of the situation. But she had seen the first tape broadcasted. The crackly camcorder and that high pitched giggle all accounted for. She hadn't been giving it her full attention. She really should have.
"Look at me!" he had snarled. His voice no longer nasally or lilting but steady, rasping with malice.
And with that he revealed the unadulterated darkness within and gotten under her skin.
Now he was free and playing games once more? Well Eleanor wanted to play regardless of the stakes.
Morbid curiosity indeed.