Joker: Arkham – Chapter 9 – Brenda

Don’t go looking for snakes you might find them
Don’t send your eyes to the sun you might blind them
Haven’t I seen you here before?

Oh, watch the puppets dancing
Yeah, see the clowns fall down
Hey, tie your tap shoes tightly
Yeah, wear them into town
See you crawling, see you crawling

Don’t go looking for snakes you might find them
Don’t send your eyes to the sun you might blind them
Haven’t I seen you here before?
There ain’t no heroes here
No, no more

Oh, play the game so nicely
Oh, check, it’s your move now
Yeah, we’re standing in this jungle
Yeah, with serpents I have found
See you crawling, see you crawling

Don’t go looking for snakes you might find them
Don’t send your eyes to the sun you might blind them
Haven’t I seen you here before?
Have your heroes disappeared?

So don’t go looking for snakes you might find them
No, there ain’t no heroes here

~ Slither (Metallica)

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“Well, you’re a little furry – but no one pays attention to the nurses in Arkham.”

Stretched out on the director’s fainting couch with his eyes closed against the lamplight, Joker smiled. “Unless they look like your girlfriend?”

The skirt reached just below his knees, sure proof he wasn’t Alice.

Helen ignored the jibe. “If you look like you belong, no one should give you a second glance – except…”

Lifting one knee, the skirt sliding down his thigh, his fingers stroked over the silky peach panties she’d brought him with the uniform. The fit was quite snug with cock and balls shoved in them, and the material felt amazing.

“Except?” he prompted.

“Your hair. You shouldn’t have cut it – anyone here would do a double take seeing shoulder-length green-streaked hair.”

With a grunt, he sat up. The uniform and shoes had belonged to the nurse who had worked here before her – fortunately, a wider and taller sample of female anatomy. The name tag on the shirt declared her to have been a Brenda.

“I’ll improvise as I go along.”

Her little joke of including the panties had been intended as an insult, he was sure; yet beyond the fun of flustering her, the sensation of them caressing and cupping his junk was a nice adventure all its own.

“Silk and lace?” he teased, smirking up at her.

“Being damaged by that monster doesn’t make me any less a woman,” she retorted, her chin lifting.

Standing, his hands smoothing the skirt around his hairy legs, he giggled. “Me neither.” Turning and posing for her with hands on hips, he asked, “Am I your type yet?”

“Not … quite.”

“Like ‘em currrvy, hmm? Fine, fine.”

Slipping the wire around the front of his throat like a choker, he fed the stiff ends down into the back of the white shirt. The short sleeves had no fetching pink piping like his last set and Brenda hadn’t believed in Harvey Dent, but her clothes still lent a spring to his step.

“Are you sure you can pull this off? Acting like a woman is a lot harder than dressing like one and you have a very … different … gait and carriage.”

“I lurch a bit and slouch a lot, I suppose; it’s that uh, noticeable, is it?”

“It really is; it’s … creepy – and highly memorable.”

“Hmm, good to know … but here’s the thing – people see a skirt and their sense of danger goes right out their ears. The person in uniform becomes the symbol the uniform represents and no one looks any closer. Doesn’t even require a skirt – like a member of a police honor guard with a rifle, for instance. They don’t consider that the creature underneath the symbol might be something quite different. It’s the ultimate in ‘hide in plain sight’ wear.”

The large and deep pockets in the skirt were perfect for his other treasures. He grabbed them off the desk and stuffed them in before facing her again.

“Off with you, sweet pea – you have supplies to wrangle.”

“This would be a lot simpler if your bat had left me a key.”

Joker smirked as he pulled on the latex gloves he’d left on the desk. “He’s not exactly the trusting sort. I’m surprised he hasn’t realized Dr. Arkham’s motives aren’t pure as wind-driven snow.”

“Dr. Arkham is very professional, with an air of command, of competency – it just doesn’t occur to people to question anything he says or does.”

“Poppycock. He knows how to say exactly what people wanna hear in the precise moment they expect to hear it – a flawless thespian in a white coat. In fact, his acting is far superior to his head shrinking.” Tilting his head at her, he smiled. “I had no idea he’d snowed you in so deep.”

“He’s the only one in this hellhole who ever treated me like a worthwhile person, before or after I was maimed. He likes me,” she added, giving him a pointed look.

“I’ll file that tidbit away, shall I? Interesting – you do fear him but you admire him more. Huh. He didn’t censor Dr. Tanner for burning you, did you know that? I know for a fact he’s never bothered to chastise what others do here unless they offend him personally. Hence, why I’m after my own revenge – not waiting for daddy to do it for me.”

“He put Dr. Tanner in charge of the solitary wing, where the action isn’t – until you arrived. For a man who likes power, that’s punishment enough.” The woman went to the door and closed it behind her as she muttered over her shoulder, “Good hunting.”

Joker headed into the closet and closed the tunnel opening, securing it just in case she decided to snoop. She had already put his other set of fresh clothes, the orange scrubs the bat would expect him to have, in the slot and pushed it through into the holding cell so that he could change when he returned.

Pity not to let him enjoy the dress-up, though – maybe sweet Rachel wore silk and lace?

The steps leading up were the last stop for this tunnel. Rough-hewn and slick from dripping water, it was potentially treacherous going without the steel handrail bolted into one stone wall.

Joker took his time, senses open to draw in all the data around him. It was seventy-two steps to the solitary wing and the opening was housed behind the nurse’s station.

Odds are dear Alice won’t be there – real nursing isn’t what she was brought in for. If another of the day shift nurses is actually working, it should be either Greta or Irene. Hopefully, it’ll be the brunette, Greta – Brenda sounds like a brunette.

At the top of the steps, there was only one option, accessed with the same code. He paused a moment with one hand braced against the sealed opening and worked on slowing his breathing.

The amphetamine tablets he’d popped dry after the first few steps had kicked his body into overdrive but as usual, the drug brought with it a grab bag of side effects. Flushed and starting to sweat, he nontheless felt his wounded mind take wing with a focus as sharp as the scalpel in his pocket. Euphoria carried him past concern for what the climb had done to his abused muscles, while his natural sense of invincibility hit the red line.

Riding the high with a grin he may as well have torn off the face of the Cheshire Cat, he opened the lock by feel.

Like the others, the opening was troublesome from disuse but he resisted the temptation to kick it. With the steadily increasing pressure of palms on stone, he heard it begin to move and saw a sliver of light showing through. Sounds struck him, too – fingers on a computer keyboard.

As the gap was pushed wider, he found a thin middle-aged woman sitting with her back to him at the nurse’s station counter. Chocolate curly hair fell around her shoulders, swaying slightly when she paused to reach for her coffee cup.

The Joker didn’t remember how the scalpel ended up in his hand or let it trouble him as he set it to her throat. The wire for the earphones she wore was caught under his wrist and explained why she hadn’t heard a thing.

His other hand batted her white hat onto the desk and grabbed a fistful of thick curls as he leaned down to whisper in her ear.

To amp up her stiff terror, he used his mouth to grab a wire and plucked one of the earbuds out. It fell with the wire behind her ear and hung there swaying, leaking Vivaldi.

“Morning, Greta. Shhh, quiet now or I’ll slice you. Keep still, yes? Good girl.”

Letting go of her hair, his fingers found the capped syringe. Holding the cap in his teeth, he slipped the needle into her arm and gave her enough to be good and paralyzed but not enough to kill her. Aiming the needle at the cap again, he barely looked at it before putting it back into his pocket. There would be plenty for later and more downstairs.

He took her belt off and used it to secure her to the metal bar that held the small backrest to her seat. When her arms fell, her body slumping, he started gathering up her hair in one hand, holding it up off her neck.

Without stabbing, he cut into the skin at the base of her skull and began carving away about two inches from the hairline. Five long cuts managed it just fine, but the earbud wires didn’t survive the surgery. Prizing the hair and scalp off the skull was tricky and messy, but with her leaning back and his long reach, he could keep most of her blood off him.

The nurse could only make vague tiny sounds and the area was otherwise as quiet as a tomb. As for security down the hall, he hoped he made a cute giant pink rabbit for Callahan’s amusement if the addict happened to glance at his monitors.

Spotting a bottle of water on the desk, he tossed the scalp down on Greta’s lap like a mooshy bowl and used the bottle to rinse it and the scalpel clean. Pouring the water over her lap so he could splash most of the blood from his gloves, he shook the scalp by the hair before plopping the thing over his wavy locks and arranging it just so.

With some of the curls pulled over his shoulders, the thick hair did a nice job of obscuring his scarred cheeks. Retrieving the white nurse hat, he used the bobby pins left on her desk and secured it on borrowed curls.

For a few moments, he stared down at the scalped nurse and wondered if she’d die of blood loss or something more interesting, like malignant hyperthermia induced by the drug. Her eyes weren’t staring back at him – for all intents and purposes, Greta wasn’t at home anymore.

Smirking, he put the scalpel’s handle in his mouth and opened the belt. One tug and she fell to the blotchy green tiles.

He grabbed her ankles and hauled her through the opening into the tunnel. Arranging her in a bent slouch on the top step, he landed a solid kick to her back and stood watching her tumble, voiceless, into the dead black.

Joker left the opening propped with a metal pen and moved the coat rack with its collection of sweaters and jackets to hide it.

A quick inspection of the computer proved that she’d been typing nonsense on a blank file positioned under a game of solitaire. Tsk-tsking, he left the machine alone and took the scalpel handle from his mouth. As he began to open desk drawers, his tongue flicked out over his lips.

Jackpot.

Plucking a blue satin zippered bag out of the bottom drawer, he opened it and used the scalpel blade to shift its contents about. Ivory liquid foundation wasn’t white greasepaint, but it would do.

Lipstick, check, plenty of goodies … excellent – didn’t wanna risk going into my old cell for Alice’s makeup. I wonder if it’s still there.

With a shrug, he pocketed the makeup bag and closed the drawers before facing the hall in front of the nurse’s station counter. Listening carefully, he waited to hear any human movement drawn by the minimal noise he’d made.

He knew Callahan hadn’t moved, he could hear the man’s chair squeaking – but killing him would be boring. It’d be more fun to have someone ask the fool how a nurse disappeared on his watch, with bloody water all over her workstation.

Twirling the scalpel in his fingers like a miniature baton, Joker set out to explore.

The location of Dr. Tanner’s office was an unknown, a scrap of information Helen hadn’t been privy to. With Dr. Arkham allegedly taking over the Joker’s case and removing him from solitary, there should only be one active case left on Dr. Tanner’s clipboard: the stereo, whose screams currently had been silenced.

Purely out of curiosity, he went hunting for that cell, hoping it might yield some results in the form of the doctor or at least one of his thugs.

Arkham Asylum’s relatively new solitary wing on one of the sub-basement levels was laid out like a wheel with twelve spokes. Two of the spokes comprised the long hallway which bisected the hub and connected the outer ring hall to the rest. Inside the round hub was the nurse’s station and security center on one side, with the treatment room and dispensary on the other.

The white tiled hygiene chamber he’d been hosed down in, a part of the treatment room, was situated roughly behind his former cell. The plumbing for this level was centered there and it had been those pipes that allowed him to hear his neighbor’s screams.

Stands to reason, he’s just one spoke of the wheel over.

Taking the right side of the central hall, away from the security guard, he turned left when he reached the outer ring. On his left, the first door to appear had been the one he’d been locked up behind. He peeked through the narrow glass to see the cell door down the short interior hall. The hall was brightly lit, but the cell, sealed and empty, was dark.

Walking on to the next door, he stopped. The cell at the end of this hall was bright and through its window, he could catch just a glimpse of a gaunt young man sprawled on the bunk.

Grinning when he heard welcome footsteps down the hall, approaching from the direction he’d been heading in, Joker dropped the scalpel into his pocket blade down and lifted two fingers to his throat. Toying with the wire there as if nervously worrying a necklace, he continued to stare into the window. Head leaning forward, he let the dark curls hide his face.

The footsteps were heavy, the stride long.

It’s a member of the good doctor’s brute squad; doesn’t matter which one, they’re interchangeable idiots.

“Greta, that you? What’re you doing?”

Without speaking, Joker raised a finger and pointed it at the glass.

“What’s wrong? Is that fool choking again?” He barreled up without really looking at the nurse.

Joker stepped back to give him access to the window. The moment the man turned his back to him and bent lower to see through it, Joker yanked the wire out and tossed it over his head. Cinching it tight in one fist, he pressed the scalpel blade against the pulse hammering in the thick throat. The man began to curse but the blade cut in a little, convincing him to fall silent.

“I’m Brenda,” Joker whispered in his ear. “Greta had to go downstairs. Make a noise any louder than this and I’ll leave you here to stain the tiles; well, worse than they are already.”

“The guard –”

“Callahan? Don’t be silly. Where’s Dr. Tanner?”

“In his office.”

“Where, uh, might that be?”

“Ten floors up – lot of traffic up there, freak.”

“Uh-hmm, I imagine. There’s about to be a lotta traffic where I’m going, too. Let’s take a walk, Slappy. By the way, which bull are you?”

“George.”

“Ooo, bully for me – I’d have guessed right!”

“How’d you get out of the Citadel?”

“First, we’re going back to the nurse’s station, and then I’ll show you. Deal?”

Making him walk bent over, Joker marched him off. He was far too heavy to drug and drag, and he wanted to bring him down to the Citadel alive.

They reached the mess at the nurse’s station and the sharp intake of breath as the bull took it all in was quite satisfying.

“You killed her?”

“No, no no no – she’s downstairs.”

“You’re wearing … part of her damn head.”

“Hmm … good point. Move the coat rack, would you?”

The club swung at his hip, attached to his belt. Hand and leg cuffs with chains dangled there, too.

No gun … but still – it’s almost like Christmas!

Staring at the propped opening, the idiot muttered, “That wasn’t there before.”

“Sure? Actually, it’s been here longer than you have, Georgie Porgie. Go on ahead – see where it goes, mmm?”

The man’s back and shoulders tensed as he opened the cut in the wall and Joker got ready for an eight second ride. One foot stepped into the tunnel, then the other. Joker tossed the scalpel onto the green tiles and let go of the wire, snatching the club off of his belt before he could turn to grab or punch.

As George began to turn, he brought the club up and smashed it into his forearm. The sound of at least one of the bones breaking was music to his ears, accompanied by the harsh shout of pain. Stumbling backward inside the tunnel, George slipped on the wet stone and went down like an ox.

“Careful,” Joker warned, “that first step two feet to your left is a doozy.”

With huffing breaths, holding his arm and desperate to get away, the man rolled to his right – and slid feet first straight down the long stairway. His yelp of horror echoed as Joker turned to pick up the scalpel and wire.

Peering down after the orderly, he giggled. “Oops, that should’ve been, ‘to your right’ – my bad.”

Humming a fractured jaunty tune, he hung the wire around his neck and returned the scalpel to its case in his pocket. He lingered, half hoping Callahan would come to investigate, but he was disappointed.

From below, his slide momentarily checked, the new toy groaned.

“Comiiing, Georgiiie,” he called in a singing lilt as he closed the opening and locked it securely.

His hand grasping the railing, Joker began the slow climb back down. Roughly every twenty steps, the goon’s weight would allow him to stop his sliding fall. Each time the Joker reached him, he gave him a sharp prod with a white shoe to send him off again.

Now and then, something was knocked off the man’s belt and so he cleaned up after him some – happily looping the chains with the cuffs over one shoulder as he counted each step all the way down.

The final prod sent George careening over the last ten steps – but he had a soft landing.

Shaken, battered and bloody, he gasped out, “What the fuck … is that?”

“You should thank Nurse Greta for breaking your fall, Georgie.”

“She’s dead!”

“Is she? Oh, well, not that surprising, I suppose; tiny thing like that probably smacked that wall pretty hard, hmm? Or broke her neck on the way down. Don’t worry, she wouldn’t have felt it.”

“I’m gonna kill you, freak!”

“You’re welcome to try – but if you wanna live, you’ll behave.”

“You ain’t letting me live; you’re lying.”

Joker let out a huff of breath. “Why is it that everyone assumes the insane are incapable of honesty? It’s not true, you know. Then again, I’m uh, not insane. I’ll understand if you find that hard to believe at the moment, though.”

“What is this hole?”

“An access tunnel, originally constructed as a way for service workers to come and go. As I said, it’s been here longer than you have. Get up, Georgie Porgie. Poor Greta isn’t the last stop on our little trek into the bowels of Arkham.”

“Dr. Tanner … the other guys…”

“Yes, cupcake?”

“They’re gonna get you…”

“Oh, I hope so. It’ll make things so much simpler for me if they try – less fun – but simpler.”

“How’d you get into these tunnels – hell, you didn’t get transferred, somebody sprung you out! Who did it?”

“Can’t tell, no no… Suffice to say, sweetheart – I have friends in … weird places.”

~ ~ ~

When he finally collapsed on the bed in the holding cell, nude and dripping from a quick spray down, the next round of pain medication and amphetamines had him amped and ready to play with his pet bat.

George had been made comfortable – in a straitjacket, locked up in a small holding pen the size of a closet attached to the treatment room. It had dubious air holes leading into the tunnel and while it could be accessed from the treatment room, it was also hidden, soundproofed, and undetectable.

Uncle Arkham must have wanted to keep some of his patients a bit longer than the law allows. Grinning, Joker stretched and turned over to breathe in the fading scent of the bat on the sheets. It’s nearly midnight – time to romp with the flying rodent.

He’d decided against playing as Brenda, even without the curls. The uniform and handmade wig were hanging in the director’s closet, with the delicious little panties stuffed in one skirt pocket.

Far too banal to explain to Bats that I convinced Helen to give me a set of nurse’s whites. Blinding his suspicious instincts with sex likely only goes so far.

As for the woman who had provided Brenda’s hair, Joker had gone back to fetch her from the tunnel, propping her up next to the goon in the little cell – so she could keep him company.

Laughing at his screamed curses, he had been even more delighted that he couldn’t hear them once the secret door was shut and locked. He’d strolled back into the director’s closet to shed Brenda, borrowed the man’s shower stall in the small bathroom, and returned to his cell in the nude.

The metal sliding noise of the slot disrupted his thoughts. “Joker?” the nurse called, hesitant and nervous.

Eyes closed, he sighed. “Yes, dearest?”

“I just got a call from the main switchboard operator; she said my visitor cancelled, but I’m to monitor my patient’s recovery and let him know when Dr. Arkham arrives. That has to be … him, the Batman … right? It’s a message – that’s he’s … not coming…”

One white fist knotted slowly, growing tighter … and tighter.

~ ~ ~

The Joker stood in the treatment room, using bobby pins to secure the hat again to the brunette curls. He’d laid the goon’s club next to his scalpel on the wheeled metal instruments table.

There was a small hand mirror there too, and he picked it up to check his freshly made up face. Greta’s scarlet lipstick curled over his mouth and scars, her gray and brown eye shadow blended around his eyes. The color felt better than the lacey silk he wore under his skirt and allowed him to feel more like himself than he had in months under this pile of rotting stones.

Satisfied that he was presentable, he set the mirror down and went to open the hidden panel door in the wall. Knocking the female corpse out of the way, he dragged his captive out by the straps on the straitjacket.

“What the hell are you doing? Sonovabitch, lock me up with a dead woman! Hey! Wait a minute, fuck!”

“Stand up,” Joker ordered. “Come on, I’ll help you.”

“You broke my fucking arm, freak!”

“I’m quite aware – might break the other one if you don’t stand up.”

Hauling on the straitjacket to assist him, Joker pushed him over onto the table the moment he got on his feet. Strapping his ankles down first, he grabbed the scalpel in one hand. When the man fought to sit up, he pressed the blade to his jugular.

“Ah, ah, ah – be good, Georgie Porgie. Gonna take the straitjacket off so that Helen can look at your arm, hmm? Helen … sweet pea? Come here, please.”

The door opened and Helen came in, pale and trembling.

“Helen, come on,” George pleaded, “you have to help me; he’s a whack job…”

“Go ahead and help, dearest – I need the jacket off.”

Pressing the scalpel in a little the moment she got the thing off, Joker used his other hand to press the man down onto his back. Securing his good arm by the wrist, he brought the chest strap over, bending and pinning the broken arm under it.

Smiling at the scream of pain, Joker set the scalpel next to the club and strapped down the wrist of the broken arm. “We’re gonna play twenty questions, Georgie – actually I don’t have twenty but I might think of more after we start. I think it’s important not to be too attached to a detail like that, don’t you? Ready?”

“Gonna kill you, you fucking crazy bastard!”

“Now, now – that’s no way to speak to a lady. Might wanna save your breath for your answers.”

“Helen, for God’s sake – he’s wearing Greta’s head! You’ll be next, you know it. Help me!”

The nurse’s voice was mostly calm now – she was hiding her fear well – tucked under her hatred. “You work for Dr. Tanner,” she told him, “and you obey him. You like how cruel he is to people and you enjoy that he lets you abuse them if you want to. Why would I help any of you?”

Giggling, Joker placed one hand over the crooked and livid lump of the break in the man’s forearm. “Ready or not, here … we … go! When I was being ‘treated’, the shocks – what happened? I wanna know everything. Who did and said what, how it all went down. Yes?”

“You don’t remember…”

“Oh, I’m sorry, that’s an incorrect answer.” Watching his face, Joker squeezed the break, laughing when he screamed. “Then again, I didn’t explain the rules, did I? Hmm… Well, see, you uh, need to answer my questions directly and thoroughly. Otherwise, I’m gonna hurt you. When I get bored with this, I have the scalpel – and your club. Didn’t say I didn’t remember it, I know bits and pieces. Thing is, you don’t know which pieces, do you – so I’d be honest if I were you; wouldn’t wanna get caught in a lie. Now – are you ready? Do you need me to repeat the question?”

The man was silent for a moment of wide-eyed shock. Then he began to babble – and of course, none of it was his fault.

Typically, he didn’t remember half of what Dr. Tanner had said and none of them would be able to give him what had happened in his head as he’d lain there being torched. The more he thought about that, the angrier he felt. Curling his fingers, he gouged them into the arm again.

“It’s the truth, I swear, please! Holy shit … please…”

“Oh, shh, shh, there now…” Moving to the tray, he picked up the club. “Remember all the times you struck me with this? Some of those times, I was coming at you, granted – but others…”

The eyes narrowed, turned hard and cold. “If you’re gonna kill me, do it – I’m done begging.”

Joker glanced at the nurse. “He’s done begging, sweet pea – does that sound like a challenge to you?”

“Joker, I…” She started to turn away.

“Watch – or be next, as predicted.” Smiling at her when she faced him again with hands covering her mouth, he flipped brunette curls to his back. “There we go, good girl.”

Slapping the club in his palm, he moved down to the man’s legs. Two pairs of eyes watched him in fear and horror.

“Joker, stop, wait,” George muttered.

“Call me Brenda, would you? I got all pretty again just for you, you know.”

The man didn’t respond to that, his eyes flicking over to the nurse as tears gathered in them.

“Normally, I have a mind like a steel trap … ‘til you boys came along. Alas, I can’t remember each spot you hit me with this vile stick. Our surroundings were quite varied, though: while I was on the hygiene room floor, strapped on a gurney, or halfway passed out on the floor of my cell… You see the pattern, hmm? Anyway, I suppose I’ll have to guess. Was it … here?”

Bringing the short billy club down on one strapped ankle, he smirked at the ringing scream.

“So you say you were the one who brought him the ECT machine outta the dispensary and storage room? Did it titillate you, what he was gonna do to me?”

“No,” he whispered. “The nurse, that blonde bitch – she couldn’t wait for it. I could … bring her … give her to you … if you…”

Joker giggled again and struck the other ankle harder. “Sorry, Georgie, but I don’t need you for that; I’ll get dear Alice myself. I’ll get all of ‘em … even the doctor.”

The nurse spoke up just as he raised the club a third time. “What if Batman comes back after all? We wouldn’t know it in here.”

Turning to face her, Joker stroked his fingers up and down the club as a lewd smile stretched his lips. She doesn’t want to watch when push comes to shove; might feel differently when it’s the doctor’s turn or Alice – but not the mindless goons. Pointless mission, of course – Bats sent that message via the switchboard to make damn sure I knew he wasn’t coming back. Still, he might … just not tonight. Let the itch get under his skin, let that bat dick get hungry, and then we’ll see. Rejected anger soothed a bit at the thought, he relented. “Fine, fine – go keep an eye peeled. If the outer door rattles, let me know first and then stall him, yes?”

“Yes … Brenda.” She turned immediately for the door.

Joker laughed, delighted. “Good girl – you’re getting the hang of this game, aren’t you? How ‘bout you, Georgie?”

Getting back to the matter at hand, he smashed the club into the man’s shins with quick strikes, fracturing one and breaking the other. Howling with him when he cried out, he hit him again, higher, blowing out a knee. Joker sighed then and paused, the tip of the now blood-spattered club tapping lightly over the man’s groin.

“Tell me, Slappy, do you have a lady friend? Or a boyfriend, a goat – whatever; I won’t judge.”

“W-w-wife,” he stuttered, gasping and screaming again.

“Really? What does she think of you torturing people for a living? Or – lemme guess – you don’t talk about work at the dinner table.” Joker smiled down at him. “I think I’ll spare the twig and giggleberries, for now, anyway – might kill you too quick. How ‘bout some blunt force trauma to the torso? Break the other arm? You pick. No? Was that a no? Very well, allow me.”

“S-stop…”

“Stop? That’s a command, not begging. Go ahead and beg, huh?”

“No … no … won’t…”

“Well, well – I’m impressed. I pick … torso. You kept smacking my back but I can’t reach that, so chest and gut it is.”

“K-kill you…”

“You want me to kill you? Let’s not be hasty, cupcake. Eventually, sure, happy to oblige – but if I kill you now, I’ll have nothing else to do. I can’t go hunting again ‘til morning, all the prey is on day shift.” He gave the patient a sad little frown. “You understand, don’t you?”

“You … filthy fucking … freak…”

Joker moved closer. “Speak up a bit, Georgie, hmm? You’re fading a little, aren’t you?”

Disappointment turning his painted smile into a pout, he tsk-tsked with a shake of his head; the man was finished before they’d even begun.

“Never know what a person can take. Look at Two-Face, dear Harvey Dent. He runs around with a hole in his face and most of it parboiled, yet he still has the gumption to get outta bed in the morning and kill people. Gotta admire that work ethic. Meanwhile, you – happy to beat a man when he’s down – can’t take half the licking you and your friends gave me. I hope the others are more game than you or this is gonna feel like a pretty half-assed revenge.”

“Batman … you said…”

“Oh, yes – if I was honest with you, I’d admit that he’s the reason I’m gonna kill you. He should be here now, for our nightly visit, but he said he wasn’t comin’ back. He agreed to visit, understand, in return for secrets given. That’s a, uh, contract. Nothing in writing, though – perhaps that was a mistake. Can’t sue him for breach of contract with nothing in writing; I’ll just have to breach him – if he ever shows his prude masked face here again.”

Looking down, he clucked his tongue. The man’s eyes had slid shut, the lips moving in a senseless and wordless babble.

“Do you want me to stop, Georgie? Tell me again, cupcake, and I will. Do you want me to?”

“Y-yes…”

“All right, okay, don’t worry…” Moving to the instrument table, he traded the bloody club for the scalpel. Holding it in his teeth, he started to undo the man’s belt and lower the zip on his pants.

The eyes flew open when his hand reached in and pushed underwear out of the way to grasp both the dick and the scrotum. He let them fall from his hand: exposed, limp, and defenseless.

Regaining his smile as he pulled his tool free from his mouth, Joker poked at them once with the handle of the scalpel.

“Do you think your wife’ll miss ‘em? Maybe I should mail ‘em to her?”

“Don’t … please…”

“Oh, now you beg – for these? No offense, but I’d have begged for something a bit more impressive, like your knees and shins. Screw mobility over being a maaan, hmm? I was kiddin’ ‘bout mailing ‘em, though – I’m trying to keep a low profile, in case Batty does come back.”

“J-joker, wait…”

Slapping the flat of the blade on the dick, enjoying the lurch of the body, he frowned. “What did I tell you? See the pretty brown curls? Try again, cupcake – say my name.”

“B-brenda…”

“Got it in two – you people are slow around here, you know that?”

“Tanner –”

“Oooo, yes? Something juicy ‘bout the Doc? Gimme…”

“Office.”

“Oh, cupcake, I’m sorry – knowing where his office is, that’s almost useless to me. I’m gonna catch him on the job, like you.”

Picking up the scrotal sack, he gripped one of the testicles in his hand and fisted his fingers, crushing the delicate organ. Satisfied when the screams and howls echoed, the body bucking against the straps, he released the mess and bruised skin only to grip the remaining one in his hand.

“Do you think Mrs. Porgie will miss the rest of you? I tend to doubt it. You like to hit people, after all; I bet she’ll be happier without you. For the record, this one’s for the time you clubbed me in the kidneys while I was almost comatose on the hygiene room floor – that, I do remember.”

Cackling with glee, he crushed the other testicle. Without pause, he brought the blade in and held the flaccid penis up straight.

“Fuck you … dirty … freak…” the man muttered, his eyes rolling back in his head.

Joker frowned. “I won’t tell you again, Georgie – the name is Brenda.” With a twist of his hand, the blade did its work.

~ ~ ~

Opening the door into the foyer, Joker wandered into the nurse’s station to find Helen in the chair behind the desk. She looked up at him, her eyes widening when she saw the dripping scalpel in his hand.

“Is he…?”

“Pointless question, hmm? Is? Going to be? Sooner or later, hopefully later.” Sighing, he perched a hip on the corner of her desk, the small blade dripping onto a calendar there. “I cauterized what was left with the good doctor’s lighter, rolled him off and stuffed him back in the closet with Greta. So far, he’s still sort of alive.”

“Are you going to dump them –?”

“Where and how? In the tunnel? I don’t need the tripping hazard. No, no, they can stay right where they are.”

“Okay … but where will you put the others when you catch them?”

Smirking, Joker stabbed the scalpel into the desk calendar and started pulling bobby pins from the wig.

“In the same spot; nothing like a little company when you’re locked up in the dark – it’s very comforting.”

He took off the wig and tossed it to her. She caught it awkwardly, trying to touch nothing but the hair.

Bit by bit, he began to strip off Brenda and left her draped over the desk. Once he was nude, amused at how she tried not to look, he pulled the scalpel out of the calendar and walked to the door.

“Put Brenda away for me and mop up in there, hmm? I’m … tired.”

“You’re crashing. How many of those pills did you take?” When he ignored the question, she changed tactics. “Do you want food? I recommend it.”

“In a few hours, yes – I wanna get some sleep before morning.”

“You knew he wouldn’t come, didn’t you?”

“Tonight, yes. He’ll be back; he won’t be able to help himself.”

“Will you catch Dr. Tanner soon?”

“Hope so, sweet pea – gonna watch if it’s him on the slab?”

“I’ll … try. Brenda is … almost more frightening than the Joker.”

“Aww, darling, I’m gonna take that as a compliment. Wake me before dawn with breakfast, hmm? After all, Brenda will need time to get pretty for her date with the Doc.”

 

*****************************************************************

Author’s Note: Welcome to the reason for the extreme violence tags! It won’t get any less violent from here, I’m afraid, where Joker’s revenge is concerned. I imagine I don’t need to point out that the Cheshire Cat is a character from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, having already made quite a few “Alice” references and jokes in this story. Same same the Wizard of Oz, I have a habit of referencing them both in my snarky dialogue.

“Slappy” is a nickname/endearment Joker uses in Batman: Cacophony. Pondering Joker’s sexuality: Plenty of evidence in comics canon portrays Joker as bisexual if not downright pansexual. Two examples: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and Batman: Cacophony (spoilers for each follow). In the first, Joker gooses Batman’s ass and behaves effeminately toward him in a sexual manner. They explain about Joker “reinventing himself every day”, so effeminate behavior could be called a facet of the whole. In Batman: Cacophony, Joker says he wants to “murder Batman and then abuse his corpse – sexually.” Later on, he drops his pants and bends over, leaning on a tree, expecting a mysterious person who gave him a lot of money to bugger him. When the man doesn’t, Joker looks depressed about being rejected, saying, “Seduced and abandoned.” For my Joker, I’m using Heath Ledger’s portrayal and adding in the idea that he’d have sex with anything that took his fancy, without being addicted to having sex. Yet what he’s really after is the underlying element: how will sex tarnish, harm, injure, pervert, etc. either that person or someone else down the road. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic, anongrimm-blog.tumblr.com)

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