He’d gone to the club alone, to mull over what to do for the next heist. It wasn’t that he needed the money; he practically owned the city as it was. No, what turned him on was the thrill of seeing a carefully laid plan come to fruition. Such a plan, on his terms, usually meant absolute and utter chaos for others. And he loved it! He lived for the pure rush of adrenaline when everything played out the way he wanted. He was the director, and the rest of the population were his actors; there to play their roles whether they knew it or not.
“What’ll it be, boss?” asked Ted, the barman. “The usual?”
The man known as The Joker nodded in affirmation, then signalled with his eyes to where a lone young woman was staring into a half empty glass. “Who’s the babe?”
“Dunno. Never seen her in here before,” came back the disinterested reply.
“Mmmmm, is that so?” The Joker murmured as he took a swig of the Jack Daniels the bartender had set before him.
“Bin sat there for nearly an hour with that same drink. Bloody skinflint! She’s not gonna increase tonight’s takings! I wish she’d go and take her miserable face somewhere else; she’ll be puttin’ the punters off!”
Suddenly the Jack Daniels was sent flying and Ted was struggling for breath as a gloved hand grasped his throat in a snake-like vice.
“That’s not nice! When people look miserable it’s usually because they are miserable! And do you know why?”
Ted shook his head, eyes bulging, frantically trying to suck precious air into his screaming lungs.
“No? I’ll tell ya why. It’s generally because sumthin’ bad’s happened to ‘em. And I know all about that! How d’ya think my face got all sliced up?”
“I ...d,d, don’t … know!”
“That’s right, you don’t! And if you wanna stay on the right side of me, you’ll keep your opinions to yourself in future. Capiche?” Without waiting for an answer, he released his grip, and a shaken Ted busied himself clearing up the spilt drink.
The whole incident was over as suddenly as it had begun, with no-one any the wiser to the violence that had just taken place.
The Joker continued to watch the object of his interest. She intrigued him for reasons he couldn’t fully understand. It wasn’t so much the soft blonde curls, so like his own before he’d reached for the green dye, in a fit of rage at the massacre that had become the face he now owned. No, it had more to do with the desolate air of sadness and pain that seemed to envelop her as she sat hunched over the bar, lost in private thought. He caught her looking back at him, and quickly engaged in genial conversation with Ted, who was thinking that such a sudden mood change was not normal, but wisely decided not to draw attention to the fact.
When he saw her on the floor, picking up the contents of her bag, he walked over, and sat in her chair. She looked so horrified to find him in her seat that he couldn’t keep the amusement out of his voice as her brown eyes locked with his own, and he enquired, “Did I scare you?”
“No, no, not at all!” she flustered, then, “Well, yes, actually you did, but I’ve got to go! Sorry!” And with that, she grabbed her bag and fled out of the bar; failing to notice the bunch of keys and feminine articles that lay on the floor under what had been her seat.
The key ring, a typically girly one of a cartoon character, informed him of her name and address. Good! That made his intention to get to know her better so much easier! He smiled to himself as he put them all, including the personal items, into the pocket of his long purple coat.
He could hardly wait for the moment when he would return her belongings to her – all of them! They would certainly make an interesting conversation opener!