A/N: I usually have ideas when I write; a plot of some sort that points me in the right direction. This is, after all, how most authors write, but every once in a while I like to break the mold and just have a title; just take a random phrase and run with it, like I did for The Joke's On You. That at least gives me the possibility of brainstorming and fitting something to the title.
This story is neither of those strategies. This one's a little different from what I usually do because I had no base plot or title when I wrote it. I was literally working with nothing.
Therefore, this story is more of a character study than anything else, a chance to really put the Joker under the microscope and see what his opinions are. It's more of an opportunity to listen to what the guy has to say and take something out of it for the better. In other words, it gives me more of an idea of where to take him as a character. This little study takes place during an interrogation – and really, what better way to examine someone? I hope you enjoy it… just don't take what Mr. J says to heart; we all know how bad it is for your sanity.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Joker. It's probably better that way – I don't think I really want to own a psychopath.
People call me a madman.
Oh, I know they do. Safe in their little white suburbs and high-rise apartments, huddled 'round the glow of the TV set. All frightened – all of 'em watching, leering in morbid fascination at my latest masterpiece. All trembling. "What a monster," they say, words sliding out as snake-like whispers through pale, trembling lips. "What a freak."
People right now, all over Gotham, are calling me a freak.
It's enough to bust a gut over. And what they don't get is that I'm right behind them, watching wolf-like from the shadows, waiting to strike at any moment. And I'm not even the worst of 'em.
Ahahaha. Haha. Heh. I'm sorry doctor, really I am. But the irony of it's just too damn blatant to ignore. Ya got the rapists, the kid-beaters, the pedos, the murderers, and the trouble kids… and then ya got me. Of all the real monsters out there, ya pick the one artistic one of 'em and ya got the balls to call that one a freak?
Oh, and uh, that's not all wrong with society. That's not even scratching the surface. Besides the weirdoes, ya got the racists, the bigots, the zealots, and the homophobes – all of 'em swearing on a book for protection, praying to some imaginary, omnipotent being for help.
Hm. Thinking something talks and lives through you, belief in a being that doesn't even exist, and trying to convince others your bizarre logic is right. There's a name for that – it's called stark raving madness!
Lemmie tell ya something, loony: asking oblivion for help won't do ya any good. And Hell? There's no Hell. Only the one I make for ya if you meet me. And don't worry, you'll probably meet me eventually. Oh, and don't say it won't happen to you… 'cause it will. Sooner than ya think, it will…
Ya bigots and homophobes confuse me the most. Gatherin' in yer Focus on the Family and IKA meets to hate. I admire that. It really takes a special kinda person to just hate without even meeting the hated party. You're one step closer to me that way; Hell, maybe I'll take some of ya in – I can always use more lackeys. I understand all that. What I don't get is why ya trust some silly little book to take the place of your common sense. Guess knowledge isn't always power, heheh.
And you call me crazy! Ah, doctor, Arkham oughta be locking up these freakos, not me! Hey, I'm a lot of things, but I'm no bigot. I'm an equal-opportunity killer!
Aha. Heh. Heheh. Sorry, I'm just on such a roll today!
Woah, settle down doc! Nothing wrong with a harmless joke. Lighten up…
What's that, doc? Oh no, I'm not thirsty. You seem pretty parched, though – you're swigging down that water like ya haven't seen it in days. Tell ya what – you, ah, worry about you, and I'll worry about me.
Now, as I was saying, it's the same thing with war. Oh, not the violence, I get that just fine. I mean the stupid shit that starts 'em. Ya look at any war throughout history; they're all just super-sized dick-waving competitions! I could go on and on about the sheer hypocrisy of war and hate and religion – y'know, the shit you supposedly sane people do, but I'm a man of few words and you're all big enough boys and girls to get the point.
Guess I'm not as big a monster as ya thought, am I? Not when ya look at all the, uh, monstrosities you normal people commit.
But see, I'm a man of mystery, or so they like to think. They wanna know all about me, how I tick, why I wear face paint. They think it's a mask, they think I'm trying to conceal my real identity behind some other face or some psycho-babble like that. People think I'm hiding something.
Ha! Me, hide? Hahahahah! Nononononoooo. Why would I, a showman of all creatures, want to hide myself? I mean, who do I look like, Batman? I don't want to hide! A true showman never hides; never leaves the stage or removes his makeup, save to rest. And I rarely rest. Hell, I barely sleep. Too excited; too much… energy.
Just you watch. I bet there's some depraved gal out there who heard me say that who just lost her little mind with the implications…
Or I'm a loon. You'll never know. It's all part of the grand show, the big top you call reality. Reality's flexible. It bends. And you know I'm right, even if you can't understand a word I say.
Or maybe I'm just a loon. And the show plays on.
And since the show's always going, I rarely remove my makeup. This is my face. I wouldn't recognize myself if I took it off. I'm far too used to pale, sheet white base; the coal black circles around my eyes; the bloody red smear across my jagged scar of a grin…
… That smile… makes me shudder sometimes, y'know that, doc? No idea why. It just feels… wrong sometimes. But then I remember that I'm a clown, a showman in face paint, and a clown laughs at everything. Even the stuff that makes 'em shudder. Even pain.
Oh, especially at pain.
This is me, and it's what I've been for as long as I remember. It's what I'll always be. And none of your pills or psychology tech or Freudian blather will ever change that. It's funny how ya think it will, though. Kinda like watching a little kid make a macaroni sculpture or draw a puppy. It's pure bullshit, but funny.
Besides, I've never hidden anything. I've never wanted to. Because when I shut my eyes I see mayhem and madness and chaos; I see pale, dead bodies lying on cold black pavement with bloody red smiles carved into their faces, and the colors swirl around and scream and cackle and burn and it's beautiful.
Have ya ever seen it yourself, doctor? I highly doubt it. Few ever have. And d'ya know why that is? 'Cause you're too serious. Ya can't see it 'cause you're too afraid to let go and just fall; ya just won't step off that ledge. You're a cripple, and Reason's your crutch. You're the mentally ill one; you're the one who's impaired, insane, trapped behind that fragile little porcelain mask you call Sanity.
How easily it shatters!
And if it shatters, ya fall.
And it hurts. Sure, it hurts, all the colors and sounds screaming and swirling around your head. But once ya hit bottom, it all goes away, and all ya have left is this… euphoria, this sense of purpose. And then… then all ya got's your real self, your true self. And then ya got nothing to hide.
People call me a monster. They ask how and why I can do what I do. They say I'm heartless, soulless. They say I'm emotionless.
Those people haven't met me yet. Oh, they will. Soon enough they will. I'll make sure that every last one of 'em hears me laugh and sees me smile, and then they'll see. Oh, they'll see…
I'm no stoic. How could a guy with a smile like this be a stoic? Oh, and for those of ya listening in out there, look it up if ya don't know what a 'stoic' is; I'm not your English teacher. Guess someone shoulda stayed in school, eh?
But seriously now, doctor… I do have emotions. 'Feelings'. Just not for the same pathetic shit as you… I think. Tell me, doc, have ya ever danced with the devil while shrapnel rains down around ya and flames roar in the distance, listening as screaming melds with your own mad laughter? Tell me, 'cause I really wanna know.
Ya ever see a building blow up? S'like fireworks. Just like fireworks. There's a great big roar as flames explode outward like orange tentacles… and then everything just burns. It's simply awe-inspiring. Almost joyful.
Ya ever see the inside of a human body? Ever feel the firm power of once life-filled muscle; ever see all the little twisty convolutions of the brain? Ever watch a human heart slowly stop beating? Kinda makes ya humble, digging around in a corpse like that. Because all those same things, all the organs and muscles and nerves and stuff's in your own body, and all of 'em are working for ya right now, every second of every day. Kinda makes ya feel like a little kid, huh? Knowing all those gross bits are inside ya. I know they're in me. And they call me inhuman!
People think I'm insane. They wanna see me locked up in a little padded cell, all bound up in a straitjacket, so loaded full of drugs I can't see straight. People call me crazy, of all things, and I'm not crazy. I'm not! They thought Einstein was a little crazy, too. But he was just a little ahead of everyone else.
I'm like that. I'm not crazy, I'm just a little bit ahead of the curve. So far ahead in my work, in my message, that not a single one of you supposedly normal people would ever understand. S'like explaining quantum physics to an ant: ya can try all ya like, but the ant'll just never understand. You'll never get the joke. Ya can't wrap your rigid insect mind around the concept, so why should I waste my precious time trying to explain myself to you?
Try being more like me, try lightening up a little bit, and maybe then I'll talk to ya.
Not that I'd get far. See, there's a real nasty poison in that water you're drinking. Kills in minutes. In, ah, all the water in the building, in fact. Serves ya right for building a cell adjacent to the water pipes!
Aww… are ya shaking? I think ya are. Ya are! You're scared, scared 'cause ya know I'm not lying this time. Ya know who did it. And are ya an intern? 'Cause ya really didn't tighten my straitjacket enough. Nothing up my sleeves; how'd I do it? Speaking of, d'ya like magic tricks? I'll need a pencil…
Now, now, don't get all worked up! My hand's not gonna bite ya, and getting all excited will only make the poison work faster. Settle down… sit down. There's a good boy. Now, lemmie see that pen of yours. I don't usually do mercy killings, but hey, ya know too much and it all just has to stay secret. Besides, I'm sure ya –
Doctor? Hey doc, ya still with me?
Hm. Lying down on the job, eh? That's not, ah, very professional of ya, doc. Not polite, either, leaving me hanging in the middle of a conversations.
Ah well. Wouldn't help ya much anyway, since ya seem to be deceased and all.
Oh, the guards, too? How unfortunate. Guess I'll just have to let myself out. Real shame I've gotta leave so soon, but the show must go on, and all…
Geez, all the staff on the level? Really? Now, that's just about the most unprofessional thing I've ever seen. Not only are ya all too serious, you're seriously rude. It's the former that gets me – all of ya took such pride in your work here, in being the demons that ran this living Hell, my enjoyable Hell, my home. In ruining my fun. Ya all took your work to heart; ya all took yourselves too serious. You're all the same. All of ya, too serious.