The Joker sat up in bed and winced, clutching his head with one hand, as he realized how much of a splitting headache he had. Groaning, he swung his feet around and stood up. The hostage, already awake, turned her gaze to her captor. He staggered to the small bathroom and groggily looked into the mirror. He froze at the sight of his naked face – his makeup had been removed the night before... but not by him.
He opened up the medicine cabinet and pulled out a large container of white substance, and proceeded to smear it all over his face. The hostage watched as, when he was finished with the white stuff, the Joker reached for a smaller container of charcoal-colored substance, which he smeared over his eyes. For the final step, he took out a messy tube of bright lipstick... and drew an elongated grimace on his face, like a bloody slash. He looked in the mirror, sizing himself up, and seemed to be satisfied.
He came into the main room and stopped when his eyes met the hostage's. "Morning," he mumbled and continued walking with suddenly averted eyes. "Good morning," she replied, watching after him, trying to judge what kind of physical and emotional state he was in. "H-how are you feeling?"
The Joker, now bending over to rummage in a large black bag, slowly turned his head to face her. "Like shit, thanks," he said ironically. He returned his gaze to his bag, but continued, "And how are you doing this morning?"
"I'm alright." She tried to peer into his bag but saw nothing but an abyss. She wondered if he was packing it up to pull a job today. "Going somewhere?"
"Yup. Got some work to do today." He zipped the bag up and hoisted it onto his shoulder, giving her a conspiratorial raise of the eyebrows as he turned to exit.
As he was almost out the door, the hostage yelled breathlessly, "Take me with you?!"
Slowly the Joker turned to face her, a grin growing on his scarred face. "Take you with me!" he shouted incredulously. "Take you with me?! HoheHeHahahahahehohaHoohooHa!" He fell into a fit of laughter for a moment, but suddenly regained his composure and looked pensive, gazing into the abyss. "Take you with me, hm?" He turned his eyes to the hostage, examining her almost scientifically. "Take you with me, hm!" The wheels in his head were almost visibly turning. "I've got an idea!" he shouted brightly with a snap of his fingers.
the hostage asked eagerly.
"I'll take you with me!"
The two walked quickly down the stairs and out the apartment building onto the streets of Gotham. "Do you drive?" the Joker asked.
"Sure I do."
"Good, cause you're gonna be my chauffeur for the day." They reached the Joker's stolen U-Haul truck. "Get in." They both climbed into the truck, and the Joker handed the hostage a set of keys. She immediately started the truck and began to pull away from the curb.
"Um, where are we going?"
"Take a left."
They pulled onto one of Gotham's busiest streets. "Pull over here. Now!"
"Here, by this bank?!"
"That's right, sweetpea."
She screeched to a stop in front of the bank, and swerved violently toward the curb, since the Joker had not given her much time to pull over. "Alright," the Joker said very seriously, "I want you to circle around the block a few times, and come back here at exactly..." He checked his watch. "... 9:18. No earlier, no later. You understand me?"
"Good. See you then. And don't stick around after I go." He dismounted the van. The hostage watched him walk away for a brief moment, but when he turned his head around to glare at her as a signal to get moving, she hastened to put the van in gear and drive away.
As she drove this stolen van through the teeming streets of Gotham while her cohort was most likely pulling off a bank job, she wondered, what had she gotten herself into? She was fascinated by this character, the Joker, but was she willing to put herself in harm's way so that she could stay with him? I suppose it's better than staying in that gloomy apartment all day, she thought to herself. Better to get out of there. And then it occurred to her, I could just escape. Give him the slip and be done with this whole thing. But could she do that? If she didn't go pick him up, he would be done for. He was trusting her to be there when he needed her to be there. Otherwise, he'd have nowhere to run. He must have known all this. How does he know she won't just drive off?
The truck's digital clock read 9:17. Now or never. Turn at this light and pick up the Joker, or make a break for it. The light turned green. She remained stopped. The car behind her honked its horn. Glancing in her rearview mirror, then back at the road, she put on her turn signal and made the left.
The clock flipped to 9:18, and the hostage pulled up to the bank. As soon as the van was put in park, the Joker ran out of the bank in a clown mask, carrying two large duffel bags that seemed full to bursting. He dove into the van, shouting "GO! GO! GO!" The hostage fumbled with the transmission but managed to scream away from the bank before the police got there. The Joker looked behind him, watching for cops in pursuit. He smiled as he removed his mask. "Ahh, a job well done. You ever done this before?"
The hostage, wide-eyed and heart still racing, shook her head.
"No? Well! Not bad for a first-timer. Your timing was impeccable."
"Thanks," the hostage gasped, looking feverishly into the rear-view mirror every couple seconds.
"You need to relax, kid. Stressing out won't help ya in this business. Make a right here."
hostage suddenly found herself driving through one of the seediest
parts of Gotham – the Narrows. This was where the crime lords
lived and operated. A breeding ground for vice, sin, and corruption,
this was where the lowest of the low made their home. Even now,
midmorning, it seemed as dark as pitch. "Stop here," the Joker
commanded. The hostage did as she was told and saw a huge abandoned
"This another hideout of yours?"
"It's not exactly a hideout for me, so much as my... worldly possessions." He hopped out of the truck with his two duffel bags and headed for the front door of the warehouse. Seeing that he was not going to wait for her, the hostage turned off the van and hurried to catch up.