Hello All! Here is the long-awaited (haha!) Chapter 19. Still sticking with the whole mysterious, teasing angle I'm afraid! I'll try not to make Chapter 20 take as long. As always, your opinions are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Maloney Street or Betty's House Of Pies!
Chapter 19 - Maloney Street.
Harley skulked towards her car, looking around nervously as she opened the door on the driver's side.
She was followed by The Joker, who slammed her front door behind him and strutted towards the car. "I'm driving." he stated. "You don't know where you're going."
To avoid attracting any attention in broad daylight, Harley didn't respond. She just scuttled round to the other side of the car, opening and closing the door as quietly as she could. She flung her holdall on the back seat and fastened her seat belt. She watched The Joker as he got into her car. He slammed the door and Harley winced, but chose not to say anything.
She scanned the road in front of her like a paranoid meerkat as The Joker watched on in amusement. "Will you relax? God, anyone would think you're riding with Gotham's Most Wanted!" he said sarcastically.
"Can we just go, funny man?" Harley requested, finally sitting back in her seat.
"Certainly." The Joker answered precisely, starting the car.
"Would you slow down? Just a little?"
"Harley, I'm not even driving fast!" The Joker answered impatiently. "Do you wanna see me drive fast?" he looked at her mischievously, knowing his was pushing her patience. He could almost see a little vein throbbing in the side of her head.
"No! God, no." she replied, fidgeting in her seat a little. "Just - Just be careful."
The Joker snorted in response.
There weren't too many people around at this time of the morning, and those who were weren't even taking notice of Harley's car or who was in it. They weren't really taking notice of anything. They were just walking; getting to wherever they needed to go. Harley couldn't help but pity them a little. They had no idea The Joker was driving right past them as they travelled obliviously to work. If one of them happened to catch a glimpse of him, they might not even realise who it was without the make-up and the scarf covering his hair. They might not even notice his scars if the reflections on the glass concealed his face in the right way. And they certainly wouldn't look twice at Harley; she'd look like any other woman in the passenger seat of a car. Nothing unusual there. It wasn't as if her picture had been shown on the news and she'd always considered herself to have a very generic face; not the kind of face a stranger might remember ten seconds after seeing it.
As Harley watched the streets of Gotham City go by, she noticed the car slowing down. The Joker pulled into the side of the road on Maloney Street. Harley looked round at him. "Why have we stopped? What are you doing?"
The Joker looked at Harley and then nodded his head to indicate a building opposite the car. Harley looked round - Betty's House Of Pies. She looked back at The Joker. "We just had breakfast."
"I have no food in the house. We'll be hungry later." he explained.
"I can't go in there! What if someone recognises me later on? That's just asking for trouble!" she said anxiously. She didn't want to take any chances.
"Would you prefer it if I went in there?" he said smartly.
Harley exhaled deeply and bit the side of her cheek. "Fine." she said. She unfastened her seat belt, and got out of the car. She leaned in through the open door. "You'll be here when I get back, won't you?" she asked tensely.
"Dutch-Apple." he replied.
"The pie? I'll have Dutch-Apple." he grinned at her.
"Right." Harley said quietly and closed the car door. She looked around her as she walked up to the door of the bakery. She held her breath as a man walked across her path. He didn't look at her, he just walked on.
She pushed open the door, and a bell chimed lightly. The walls were decorated with stripy wallpaper in two light shades of pink, which were almost identical to each other. It was so 1950's in there. 'Treat Me Rough' by Ella Fitzgerald was playing hazily on the radio.
The shop was totally empty, much to Harley's relief. As she approached the counter, a short, plump woman in a pink apron popped up from under the counter suddenly. Harley almost jumped out of her skin.
"Sorry hon'," she said kindly, as Harley held a hand to her chest. "Didn't mean to frighten you."
"That's alright." Harley replied, shaking her head a little.
"What can I get you?"
"Erm. Two Dutch-Apple pies, please." she answered quietly.
"Coming right up." The woman nodded. "To go?"
"Oh, yes please."
"Why don't you take a seat, hon'. I'll bring them over."
Opposite the counter, all along the wall were a row of booths, each housing a dark wood table and two burgundy cushioned seats on either side. Harley sat on the edge of one of the seats, the one nearest to the door. She turned her head towards the window, but couldn't see past the heavy net drapes. They'd discoloured to pale yellow through age and looked like they could do with a good wash.
Harley continued to stare at the net curtains as the music played.
'…So treat me rough, muss my hair, don't you dare to handle me with care. I'm no innocent child, baby. Keep on treating me wild…'
Her vision hazed out as she fell into a kind of daydream. She remembered the day she had told The Joker about her circus training, back at the asylum. She remembered how they had fought. And she remembered how he had stroked her hair after she'd woken up.
A paper bag plopped down on the table in front of Harley.
"Two Dutch-Apple. That's 12 please, hon'" the aproned lady said.
Harley dipped her hand deep into the pocket, pulling out a ten dollar bill and a few coins. She tipped them into the lady's hand.
"You stay right there, I'll go get your change."
"No, no," Harley replied hurriedly. "There's no need, you keep it." She got up out of her seat and grabbed the bag, crumpling it in her fist. "Thank you!" she called as she pulled the door open, causing the bell to chime once more.
Harley stopped in her tracks as she stepped out onto the pavement. Her car had gone. The Joker had gone.
Harley walked to the edge of the road and balanced on the kerb. She looked from left to right, but couldn't see the car. Her panicking heart was thumping at 100 miles an hour and she could feel her palms getting clammy with fear.
Where had he gone? She'd only been in the shop for five minutes, if that. Had he planned to leave her this way all along? Was he just using her? Harley's eyes filled up with tears as quickly as an overflowing sink as the thoughts raced through her mind.
She wandered about on the side of the street like a lost child, clutching at the bag from the pie shop, not knowing where to go or what to do.
Suddenly, a familiar car horn sounded loudly. Harley turned her head in response the noise. On the corner of Maloney street, her car came to a halt. The window lowered, and there he was. He looked on at Harley as she sprinted down Maloney Street towards him, with a big smile on his face.
Harley flung open the door on the passenger side and almost leapt in.
"What the hell…" she started, trying to catch her breath as she spoke, "were you doing?!"
The Joker snatched the paper bag out of Harley's quivering hand and peered inside. He inhaled deeply. "That smells good." He tossed the bag onto Harley's lap.
She glared at him in disbelief, almost in disgust. "What were you doing, leaving me like that?!" she demanded of him.
"Relax, relax," he said flippantly, rolling his eyes. "I just went to pick up a thing or two."
"You'll see," he answered. He pulled away from the corner and drove back onward down Maloney Street. He could still feel Harley's eyes staring intently, but he continued looking forward. "When we get back to Toxic Acres."