Following my interview with Batman, I had felt pretty chuffed about the experience. Since then however, certain things have changed in Gotham, and (arguably) not for the better…
You may recall, dear reader, that I mentioned in my Batman interview a brief encounter with the Joker and my kind request that he take the night off while Batman was distracted from his regular duties. Despite the Joker’s promise, and much to my surprise, it seems that he instead decided to take advantage of the whole situation.
Needless to say, the Joker has reclaimed his title of Clown Prince of Crime of Gotham City along with a host of recently escaped incarcerees from Arkham Asylum.
I can’t help but feel partially responsible…
So here I am once again to meet the Clown Prince, this time in a more formal setting – the infamous ‘Ha-Hacienda’ – a throne room of sorts for the Prince of Crime hidden in the depths of Gotham’s underworld. Perhaps I can put my mind at ease.
I wander cautiously through the back alleyways of Gotham’s inner-city slums. Although I have been invited here, I am still uneasy. There’s no telling what might happen if I take a wrong step. In my hand I hold a playing card, a jubilant jester painted on its front – The Joker’s calling card and my official invitation. I hold it high above my head to dissuade any watching eyes who might be thinking of jumping me.
I turn a corner and come across a large jester spray-painted on a wall in hideously jarring green and pink tones. An ominous ‘HA HA HA’ is written above it.
The jester matches the one on my card. This must be the place. I approach the horrid harlequin to inspect it closer. Surely there must be a door somewhere… I swallow that thought as a hidden trap door opens up beneath my feet and I tumble down a steep chute. I hit the hard ground below with a thud.
“So… I see you received the free ticket I sent you. I’m glad. I did so want you to be here.”
A chilling voice echoes loudly with equal parts jest and malice. I pick myself up and take a look around the large space of what may once have been a warehouse of some sort. Broken shelves, boxes and their contents lie strewn about the far corners of the room, illuminated only by the pale moonlight which seeps through boarded-up windows. Though dim, I can still make out the same ‘HA HA HA’ writing which covers the walls like sinister wallpaper.
Just what nefarious plots have been brewed here is difficult to imagine. A series of spotlights suddenly power on, flooding the room with harsh multi-coloured light. Now revealed at the room’s centre, upon an unnecessarily lofty dais, sits an ostentatiously decorated chair, and nestled carelessly between its regal arms… the Clown Prince himself…
“Why so serious?”
He glares at me with a look of furious madness. Whatever playfulness I had heard in the clown’s voice before has vanished entirely. Now he just plain scares the shit out of me.
The madman rises from his throne and then begins skipping down the stairs towards me, his jubial demeanor returned.
“Do you wanna know how I got these scars?”
He gestures to the prominent scars on his face as he reaches the bottom step. The sadistic side is back again. His personality seems to change in the blink of an eye.
“Perhaps another time, Mr J.”
I’m rather eager to avoid the psychotic Ledger-Joker if possible, and steering him away from those lines in the movie seems sensible.
“What I really want to know is what you believe you’ve achieved from your recent takeover of Gotham. What is the point of all this madness?”
He seems pleased by my question and smiles impossibly wide, almost cartoonishly. I breath a sigh of relief. This Joker I can deal with… I hope.
“I’ve proved my point. I’ve demonstrated there’s no difference between me and everyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”
“Really, just one? Many people have had bad days before, but few have ever gone to such extremes.”
This sounds familiar…
“Ladies and Gentlemen! You’ve read about it in the papers! Now witness, before your very eyes, that most rare and tragic of nature’s mistakes! I give you: the average man. Physically unremarkable, it instead possesses a deformed set of values.”
The clown makes wide sweeping gestures as if talking to an imaginary audience.
“Why don’t you tell us about your bad day?”
The Joker’s ludicrous grin vanishes in an instant and he takes on a more somber tone, almost human even.
“Girlfriend killed by the mob, maybe? Brother carved up by some mugger? Something like that, I bet. Something like that… Something like that happened to me, you know. I… I’m not exactly sure what it was. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice! Ha ha ha! But my point is… My point is, I went crazy. When I saw what a black, awful joke the world was, I went crazy as a coot! I admit it! Why can’t you?”
He cackles like a man possessed by a joke only he’s in on. Then he continues, a crazed gleam in his eyes…
“Do you know how many times we’ve come close to world war three over a flock of geese on a computer screen? Do you know what triggered the last world war? An argument over how many telegraph poles Germany owed it’s war dept creditors! Telegraph poles! Ha ha ha ha HA! It’s all a joke! Everything anybody ever valued or struggled for… it’s all a monstrous, demented gag! So why can’t you see the funny side? Why aren’t you laughing?”
I feel my heartbeat pick up the pace. Maybe he has a point, and it terrifies me. But like a freshly squashed turd, I just have to press deeper…
“What do you see for the future of this world?”
He laughs again maniacally and rubs his hands together as if in anticipation.
“I dream of the future every night. In my dream, the world had suffered a terrible disaster. A black haze shut out the sun, and the darkness was alive with the moans and screams of wounded people. Suddenly, a small light glowed. A candle flickered into life, symbol of hope for millions. A single tiny candle, shining in the ugly dark. I laughed and blew it out.”
I can’t take it anymore. I have to get out of here; away from this nutcase and his twisted mind.
“Thank you for your time, your clownliness, but I think I had best be going now.”
“Leave? Now? Oh no, you’re not going anywhere. Your interview may be over, but mine is just beginning.”
He draws a long knife from inside his jacket and starts walking towards me. My expression turns to one of horror and he smiles sadistically.
“You see, in their last moments people show you who they really are.”
What have I done? I search desperately for an escape, but there is none, and he’s coming!
“Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moon-light?”
Oh shit, not him. Not Big Jack’s Joker! I close my eyes and go to my happy place – sandwiches and hookers – a fitting end…
A sudden crash of shattering glass snaps me back to reality.
“Bats! How good of you to join us.”
The Joker exclaims ecstatically as Batman makes his entrance. And of course he does at this precise moment. It’s not just a convenient coincidence that Batman should turn up right before I’m stabbed. You didn’t really think I’d let the Joker kill me in my own interview, did you? …not today at least.
“Curious, either you never heard of the door or you like pulling glass out of your shorts.” (Haaa, I was looking forward to using that line.)
The Joker remarks at Batman’s classic choice of entry. Batman throws a Batmerang (sweet) at the Joker who laughs as he ducks for cover.
“How much do you weigh?”
Batman growls as he hands me a grappling gun (double-sweet).
“M-m-more than Kim Basinger.” (get it?)
I manage to stammer despite my shock. I briefly wonder how I might work-in some ‘Bat-Shark-Repellent’, but before the Joker unleashes his army of shark minions (clown-sharks – is that a thing?) I’m whisked away by the grappling gun through the window and into the night.