AN – Aha! I told you that I would be posting a new story today! Well, technically, one day. But what's one day? I'm gonna try updating every two weeks this time, so every first of the month, and every 15th of the month. If I get too close to running out of chapters, I'll notify you and switch it to ever 1st of the month only.
Either way, you are about to read…my journey into the "Dark Knight" universe. My take on Heath Ledger's revered Joker. Hope you like it!
PROLOGUE [part from me my liar]
"You're leaving me?" his voice rasped.
My dear husband sat slumped over in a sleeveless white undershirt, a clear glass bottle of Smirnoff in his hand. Behind him the TV was on to the evening news and the next door neighbors were having another fight in their apartment.
"I'm so sorry Jack." I kissed his forehead and lingered to tenderly push the dirty blond hair off his face. "I'm so sorry, but I have to. I can't be around you when you're like this." My duty as a future parent told me that I had to take my child away from this...
He buried his smooth face in my stomach, unaware of the secret hiding there, and wrapped his strong arms around me. "We can make this work my rose." His voice was muffled. He was trying to make me smile with his pet name for me – a side effect of my love for the movie "Beauty and the Beast". He'd even quoted it at our wedding.
He was trying to make me reminisce. To forget about what things were like now and to remember how they were. It pained me to stop him, to spurn this attempt.
I pushed his head back, but his chin still rested between my breasts as he looked up at me. "No, we can't Jack. Ever since..." I traced the still healing scars on the back of his neck with the gentlest of fingertips. "You've changed. Drinking more. You're not laughing like you used to. We've been arguing more than ever."
"We can fix that."
I sighed. "No, we can't. Your boss at the construction site called today. He said that you hadn't been in for a couple of days, asked if you were sick. I didn't know what to do, so I told him that you were." I pulled his arms off of me and backed away.
"I was sick." He told me, standing up and letting his half empty bottle fall to the floor with a crash.
My hands clenched nervously at my sides when he did this, even though I knew that my suitcase and the open door were within easy reach. He was preparing to catch me.
"But you told me that you were going to work this morning Jack. Just like you did yesterday morning. You didn't say anything about being sick."
His hands gestured, placating. "I just didn't want to worry you."
"Liar." I accused, inwardly wincing at his shocked expression and stepping closer to the door. "If you were sick you wouldn't have kissed me goodbye this morning. You'd have stayed in bed. You'd want chicken soup! You wouldn't have gone out! Liar!" I was surprised by the growing bitterness in my tone. I worked every day – two jobs! - and he'd gone out to have fun with buddies and lied to me about it...
Jack's eyes grew dark and angry at my low blow. Once he'd told me that he hated untruths and being called a liar was the greatest insult someone could call him. "I am no a liar!"
He started walking toward me, angry and dangerous. Ever since the incident he'd started drinking and that made him violent. Jack pushed another chair out of the way and it skidded into the wall with a bang. "You cannot leave me!" He roared. "I need you Ellie! You can't leave me. You just can't!"
I skittered backward and into my luggage, falling to the floor. My Jack, the father of my baby, the gentle, quiet man would have run to help me. This Jack – this inebriated, dangerous, mercurial Jack- used my fall to close the gap between us further. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the handle of my suitcase and jumped into the hallway.
"YOU CANNOT LEAVE ME!" Jack roared, stalking out into the hallway and slamming the door so loud that it fell half way off its hinges.
"I'll come back when you calm down Jack! Get sober and I'll come back! Please get some help, please Jack!" Now my tone was as pleading as his had been in the beginning. My heavy suitcase was slowing me down as I backed toward the stairs. Drawn by the noise, several of the neighbors peered out their doors at us. I prayed they would intervene if things got too bad.
I had to turn around to go down the stairs, but once I had started to do so I quickly twisted my head so that I could view my irate husband again. I wanted to keep him in my line of sight as much as possible. As mush as I loved Jack, and I did love him more than anything, this part of him was a side that I had never really dealt with before and it wouldn't be smart to turn my back on him.
"You'll see me again Jack..." I called to him from the bottom floor. He stood suddenly stoic, like a marble statue of a god, at the top of the stairs. "Just please...get help." I walked slowly to the front door of our cheap apartment building, stepped outside, and ran.
JACK – BEFORE THE JOKER – POV]
I watched my wife leave me with mixed emotions: betrayal, sorrow, anger, guilt, fury, and lust for revenge.
I needed her and she left me.
I needed her and she left me!
I needed her and she left me!
I NEEDED HER AND SHE LEFT ME!
I was raging inside, and I didn't want the deadbeat neighbors to see it. I needed something to calm me down, and I didn't want to be seen like this. I was rejected. I wasn't good enough. I was wrong.
This image, this person – everything that was me - had been thrown away and now I needed to change. Needed to reinvent my self so that Ellie would accept me again. I needed her to need me too.
Sitting down on our old couch, I picked up another bottle from the coffee table, pulled the cork off with my teeth, and took a long drink. The alcohol burned my throat and one drop leaked from my mouth, down my neck, and just barely reached the scars that were healing on my neck and shoulders. But I welcomed the pain. I needed it to.
I started when the phone rang, disrupting my thoughts. I picked it up half heartedly. "Hello?"
The voice was pleasant in a sterile way. "Hello. This call is from St. John's Hospital."
"Mm hmm." I commented.
"Is Mrs. Napier around? May I speak to her?"
Now what was it? If this was a message about another one of those unexplained bills, I didn't know what I was going to do. "No, she just left, but I'm her husband. Is there a problem?"
"No sir, I was just calling to let Mrs. Napier know that her refill of vitamins is in. Would you tell her for me?"
I frowned. Vitamins? Ellie didn't take any vitamins, or at least none that I'd ever seen. Numbly, I responded, "Sure." and hung up. The thought echoed and bothered and picked at me until finally, I got up and headed to the bathroom, skirting around all the broken glass on the floor.
The bathroom was in a disaray from Ellie's mad packing whirl through it, probably executed only seconds before I'd come home. Things not deemed important enough to take were scattered over the counter - hair ties and old lipsticks and eyeshadows and mostly empty perfume bottles. Those things I swept aside in favor of pulling open her usually very full medicine cabinet, just across the sink from mine.
Only a few neglected bottles of moisturizer occupied the three shelves. One was lying on its side and dripping a yellow lotion that smelled overwhelmingly of hydrangeas; at least I knew that she'd never worn that during our marriage. If she had, I might have dunked her in the shower...I set the bottle upright out of habit and closed the mirrored door, disppointed. Leaning against the counter, I folded my arms over my chest and tried to think like Ellie. Where else would she put vitamins?
The tiny trash can was full, and I hadn't used it for awhile...
I dug through the trash like a madman, pulling out discarded candy wrappers, one or two ripped open silver packets with 'TROJAN condom' stamped across them, and old face cleanser pads. My hands were shaky as they finally found and pulled out several orange plastic pull containers from the hospital. I read the labels. Folic acid, Materna, Prenate Advance...Pre...Pre...Prenatal vitamins...
She'd...knowing that...My eyes shut in shock...and she'd left me anyway. I swiveled and stalked toward the living room, not stopping till my knees bumped the edge of the coffee table. I took another drink from my bottle. It was time to get good and drunk – that, at least, would stop me from thinking of my rose, my Ellie.
AN – So that was only the prologue, but the first chapter WILL be up today, as I don't really consider a prologue an update. Hope you guys enjoyed the chapter and review!