I am death.
I am dismay.
I am the giver of pain and the taker of life. My steady hands wield the tools of my dark art with a skill sharpened by rage. Rage. My only friend through the long. dark years of my denial. Years before I came to know who I truly am. After time and experience had chipped away the rough edges, I was reborn.
No longer the sad and lonely man, mocked by many, pitied by all, even by her, my lost Jeannie, whose loins were filled with the life we could have raised. Fate’s a bitch sometimes, but this too shall pass.
My life with Jeannie could never have been what it is now. Each day a gift sent to me by my dark-cloaked benefactor. The man who made me what I am today, the one who gave me eyes to see. Batman.
I am the clown prince of madness, whom lesser men call the Joker.
“Vicki! Wait up!”
Vicki Vale, ace reporter for the Gotham Herald, turned to see who was calling her.
“Samantha? Is that you?”
“In the flesh, girl!” Samantha Mathis, an old school chum of Vicki’s, wrapped her arms around her in an affectionate hug.
“My God,” said Vicki. “How long has it been?”
“I stopped counting when it got depressing. How have you been?”
“Fine. I’ve got this deadline that’s kicking my ass. Other than that, can’t complain. You’ve heard of the murders, I’m sure.”
“Of course. They say the Joker’s gone completely off the charts. Aren’t you scared to be walking the streets alone?”
“A little. I’m not bad at taking care of myself, though.”
“You never were bad at that. Let’s get together some time and catch up, okay?”
“Great. My car’s parked this way. Next week, say Friday?”
“Sure, give my office a call. You be careful too, all right?”
Vicki watched her go. She hadn’t been too sociable of late. The only things keeping her company were her laptop and the cup of coffee that never left her side. She had been thinking lately of Bruce Wayne, her sometime lover. She hadn’t seen him in a while and wondered how he was doing. Maybe she would stop by for a visit if he was home, which was rare. Wayne Enterprises practically ran itself. You’d think he would have more time to spend at home.
She walks alone in a city full of terror, an invitation to the wicked. I’ve got my RSVP in my hand as I silently walk behind her. I keep the blade sheathed until needed so the gleam doesn’t give me away. I am prepared to the point of relaxation.
A cat knocks over a trash can on a corner nearby and she visibly jumps. Must be careful now, she’ll be alert. Alertness improves the hearing. I keep step with her increasing stride as she heads for a white Saturn, so clean it reflects the moon. Stepping over puddles to hide my position, I lunge in as she focuses on putting the key in the door.
Pinning her head against the top of the car, I wrap my gloved hand around her mouth, stifling the scream before it escapes her. I unsnap the sheath from my cold blade and let it drop. I have to bang her head against the car twice to dull the adrenaline rush of her struggling. Well, okay, I didn’t have to. I wanted to.
I touch the blade against her flesh just to let her know what is to come. She begins to cry as I raise the blade in the air. It sings its whistling song as I plunge it down hard into her spine. Again and again it plays its deadly tune, up and down, up and down. Each upward arc spraying more and more blood. I can’t resist it. I laugh in delight as the spasmodically twitching thing in my arms begins to rhythmically slow down, its heart belching forth the last ounces of her life fluid.
In my jubilation, I begin to jump up and down, celebrating my return to the good life. I break her neck by accident but that’s okay. I adapt well. Dropping her carcass on the ground, I bring the bottle of spray up to her face and apply a liberal dose. It works quickly and dissipates just as fast so the only victim is the intended target.
Her face contorts, the muscles straining to please me.
Vicki was almost to her car when she heard it. A laugh no person should ever have to hear. It was coming from behind her. She turned around and saw nothing. She realized it was coming from further down the road, around the corner where she had last seen...
She reached into her purse and pulled out her nine millimeter Baretta. The only women in Gotham who carried pepper spray were tourists. Holding the gun out before her like Bruce had taught her, she headed toward the sound. She had walked ten steps before she heard the gunshots. Her legs, to the dismay of her brain, quickened the pace. She looked around but the streets were deserted. There was no one close by to hear.
Approaching the corner, she hugged the side of the wall. It was in the low fifties with a light wind but Vicki was sweating. She was scared so badly she could feel her heart pounding in her ears, making that seashell wave of blood fill her hearing. She remembered Bruce’s instructions and let the gun whip her around the corner.
Too much to take in at one time. Blood. Lots of it. Through the hurricane in her head, she heard running footsteps. By the time her eyes cooperated with her hands the man had turned another corner. She caught one telling detail before she dropped to her knees in front of her dead friend, who she had just been reunited with.
The killer had worn purple pants and suit.