The sun was setting slowly over the small rural town, which was completely surrounded by by a vast forest, and just to the side of this town was small circus. Games and performers littered around, entertaining the citizen of the town and all seemed well.
Then the playful atmosphere was interrupted by a crash.
A clown, with slicked back bright orange hair, running at full speed. After knocking over several people, and a toy stand, he ran off to down a dirt path, leading away from the village.
After several minutes for silence a young girl ran out the same tent and down the path, jingles of bells could be heard, the sounds faded away as she disappear into the trees. A large man in a red suit stepped out the tent, a grimace twisting his face. Seeing the looks of the towns folk he let out a blinding smile.
“I'm so sorry! Please have your deepest apologies! Continue on with your festivities!” With a smile and a some flare, he whipped his coat and disappeared back into the show tent.
Slowly, but surely, the circus went on.
The clown ran down the dirt path, the sounds of the circus faded behind him as he ran through the forest. Finally, when he was a distance away from the town and it's inhabitants, he slowed to a stroll and the girl behind him paced his pace, making sure to keep the distance between them spacious.
And that's what they did, for hours the walked through the forest, sticking to the path. The boy with brightly orange hair and caked up white make up, that cracked when he moved his face, and a blonde headed girl with pigtails, with bells tied to the ends that jingle when she walks.
They went like this for two hours, the sun now coming down and a chill breeze sweep through the trees.
Suddenly, a voice cut through the silence.
"Jerome!” He stopped, body tense. The girl continued walking, until she was close enough to see the muscles of his back "Jerome come on. Let's go back! I'm sure your dad ain't upset anymore! Maybe, if you just-"
The girl's high pitched tone was silenced, most likely due to the hand wrapped around her throat.
The boy, Jerome, gripped her throat tight, his breaths coming out hard and ragged. "Harley, we talked about that. Didn't we? I'm sure we did" Raspy, it's possibly the only word that describes the way Jerome voice. Raspy, with the hint of something else. Something sweet that coated the sour, something that seems to hide who he truly was from outsiders. The closer you'd listen the more it seemed you'd be pulled in. No older than twenty and he could wrap anyone around his finger, even as he slowly cut off poor Harley's oxygen supplies he still had her full attention, her utmost affection.
"Jerome, Jerome, Jerome." He chanted, his hand flexed. "Do you know who Jerome is?” He fixed his eyes in her lips. “He's a mask! A weakling! I only wear him around those who don't deserve the real me! But you!" His voice rose in the silence. He caressed her face with his free hand. "I truly thought YOU deserve the real me!” He suddenly made his voice quiet with softness he no longer possessed. “Was I wrong? Are you like the rest of those ingrates? I don't want to believe you are but you keep calling me Jerome time and time again." He heaved a sigh, looking away from her and up into the trees, uncaring has Harley's makeup covered face slowly turned blue. "Do you find me weak Harley? Is that why you insist on calling me Jerome?" He looked back down at her, staring into her eyes. Green twinkled at blue.
Harley's ponytails wiggles as she shook her head as much as she could in his grip. Her voice straining when she spoke.
"S-sorry, Joker. I-I'll do b-best to reme-mber next time."
Joker closed his eyes when he heard his chosen name. Harley was still in his grip, hands twitching at her sides.
Finally, as if a child down playing with his toys, he dropped her to the ground.
Pulling herself up from the dirt, she coughed and wiped the tears from her eye. Keeping her head down, she rubbed her bruised neck. He watched with disinterest as she caught her breath before turning around, continuing his walk.
He finally noticed that they'd walked a great distance from the circus, the forest seemed to be aglow from the fading sun. It was almost enjoyable. If you had the right clothing.
Joker did not have the right clothing.
The white with colored polka dots clown suit was made of flimsy cloth, it hung off his body as if he borrowed from an older brother. He wiped the paint and blood off his face as he shivered. He could hear the circus's loud laughter and noise, even if he was far as he was.
He also heard the soft shifting of dirt, rocks, and soft jingles. He knew she was still following him, like the ever faithful dog she was.
Pitiful. That was the only word he'd describe her as.
She'd been by his side for years and he could only feel a growing resentment towards her. Maybe it's because of the close resemblance to his mother she had.
He decided not to think so closely on it, mother's aren't a good subject for him.
The forest surrounding the town was vast. Only dirt roads and faded signs could guide you through.
He walked down the dirt road, worn out from overuse. Grass played at the edges of the road and flowers bloomed. Trees and their green leaves blocked of the ever fading light in the sky.
He paid no attention to these things.
He mind was on something more important.
An alcoholic, violent, egomaniacal, unhappy, man. At least that what he was behind doors.
To be what his father is? It is to have the actor no one expects to be one. Joker knows this, and his father knows this. And while one has it down to a fine art, the other is still learning, still growing. Eager to one day surpass his competitor.
On good days, Joker found it amusing. The person he hated most, he's alike to the very soles of his feet.
They were now deep inside the forest, all noises were gone and it seemed to be darker here, and with the sun fading, it seemed to take an ominous turn.
He heard her shuffling behind him, sniffling and slight coughs disturbed the quietness of the forest. He ignored her and focused on nothing in particular.
Suddenlyhe stopped. Causing Harley to bump into him.
A small path branched off from the main one, going into a bit to a clearing. A large mansion laid in the middle of it, decay could plainly be seen and vegetation over powered half the mansion. Bricks laid scattered about.
Looking down the path Joker felt a pull at the ruins, to explore it. To find something there. Something important.
Joker felt his body shift towards it.
Harley shivered in the cold.
The wind blew through the trees.
Suddenly he was shocked out the trace by loud booms and crackles.
The circus had begun the fireworks.
"Closing time is soon puddin'. It's time we got back, dontcha think?" Harley's voice was soft, her body pressed against his back and she tugged on his clown suit.
Joker rolled his eyes at the pet name.
Turning, he moved Harley aside and began the long trek back to the circus. The walk back was as long as the walked from the circus. By the time they returned the tents were closed and only a few drunken men stumbled around.
Circus folk could be seen cleaning up and mumbling amongst each other, glancing over to the two arrivals.
A muscle man lumbered his way up to them, huffing a metal beam on his shoulder.
"Clown, the boss what's you in his caravan. Clown’s girlfriend, your mother wants you at the wire."
Joker kept a neutral face, his eye twitching at the title the man gave Harley.
"Thank you Brice, don't you have some weights to lift now?" Joker gave the man small wave. "Let's not keep those poor weights waiting."
A grunt and nod was all they got in return as Brice thumped away, his leotard leaving nothing to the imagination.
A pat on his shoulder brought his eyes to Harley, her eyes full of unshed tears.
"My mama gonna be pissed at me for missing the performance....again. Good luck with your dad, ok?"
Joker brushed her hand away and rolled his eyes. "Luck? Where has luck been a factor for anything? Go see your mother." He moved passed Harley, her eyes following his back as he moved away from her.
"HARLEEN QUINZEL GET YOUR HIDE OVER HERE THIS MINUTE."
The ring masters caravan was red with gold trimmings, the faded paint the only signs of age.
Joker shoved the door open and was hit with a large cloud of smoke, women's laughter filtered out the trailer.
The room was filled with smoke, sweet smelling and clouded joker's lungs making him cough and heave.
At the every end of the trailer sat the ring master, lap full of his 'special’ women and a cigar hanging from his lips.
"Ah Jerome!" Now noticing his presence he shoved at the women, causing the to fall to the floor and scooted the chair closer to his desk. "Come, come! How's the eye? Gave you a real shiner this time didn't I?"
Jerome narrowed his eyes.
"What can i do for you, sir ?" The words slipped out his mouth with great difficulty, trying to remain passive was a task when dealing with this man.
"What do I want? Do you hear that girls? What do I want?!?" The ringmaster went into a loud uproar, the cigar almost falling from his mouth as he threw his head and shook with laughter.
The girls let out small giggles, trying hard to appease him.
"What I want, is for you to not be an inconsiderate little shit!" He slammed his palms on the desk, it shakes under the assault, the girls flinch.
Taking the cigar out, he motioned for Jerome to come closer.
Jerome stayed where he was.
The ringmaster's eyes shined bright underneath all the smoke, his teeth grinding together.
"Come. Here. Jerome. Or maybe you need to spend some time in the cage?"
Joker took small steps until, finally, his body hit the edge of the desk. Similar green eyes locked with each other. Joker looking down at the seated man. And yet, somehow, he felt as if he was the one being looked down upon.
"See? Was that so hard?" The ringmaster leaned back in his seat, cigar placed back in his mouth and he stroked one of the girls head. Smoke billowing out the man's mouth as he exhaled.
"Ya know boy," another inhale and exhale. "Ya mother wasn't shit, so I'm not surprised ya ain't shit either. But blatantly taking over a show like that? It's ballsy. Luckily for us everyone thought our little "fight" was an act. So I'll only take away ONE week of food. Ain't I generous girls?"
They bobbed their heads in agreement, Joker noticed they haven't move an inch from where they dropped. Quick learners.
"Now, back to YOU. Not only did you did you try and take over a show, but you fucked up another one! Our trapeze act? And where was our second best gal? Chasing after your slimy ass."
Another cloud of smoke filled the room. Joker felt the smoke fill his own lungs, getting in his clothes, covering him in it's smell. He waved it away from his face so he could see the ringmasters face clearly.
"I didn't tell her-"
"Shut it!" The ringmaster interrupted him, Joker struggles to keep his temper in check. A strain smile is now gracing his face, the faded red paint chipping at the edges of his lips.
"Doesn't matter if you told the hussy to follow ya or not, she did. So we had to use some simple little shit to do the act. He almost broke his arm and then I would have had to fire him!" The ringmaster was vibrating at the end, anger bleeding out of him.
The girls huddled closer to the floor.
Joker's hands flexed at his sides, his smile never slipping. If anything, it was getting wider.
"Come on pops, why so serious?"
The scrape and bang of the chair falling was Joker's only warning as the man stood up, his body towering over Joker as he grips the boys clown suit. Dragging him over the desk he raised his hand back and punched him square in the nose.
The sounds of flesh hitting flesh could be heard as the man hit him repeatedly, blood splatter over the ring masters white shirt and Joker's polka-dotted outfit.
The girls were now in a corner, whimpering as they watched.
Finally he dropped Joker on the desk, his head and legs swinging over the edges. The ringmaster dabbed at his forehead with a pocket hankey.
"See," he heaved. "Look and what you made me do. Can’t be looking like you got into a bar brawl can you? Scare the kids. Lucky enough for you that makeup you wear will cover most of your ugly mug."
Joker said nothing, he laid there on the table, only signs of life were deep breathes that seem to shake his whole body. Slowly, small giggles took place with every breath. Until his whole body was racked with breath taking laughter.
A quick punch to the gut silenced him.
The ringmaster unbutton his shirt and threw it at one of the girls. "Go soak that, and if I find one stain, well, you be in Jerome's position. And we don't want that, right?"
The quick scurrying of feet gave the impression that no, she would not like that.
Not that Joker cares at the moment, the throbbing in his face called more attention than his surroundings at the moment.
A mistake on his part.
The tight grip on his hair called his attention, the fact he was now being dragged by his hair brought him back to full awareness.
He met the ground face first, mud smearing on his bruised and bloodied face.
A hard force made contact with is back when he made an attempt to get up, pushing him deeper into the mud.
Joker said nothing, a few grunts from the weight on his back was muffled from the mud. He could feel the glances the other circus folk on him, piercing, judging. What he'd do to be able to tear them out.
“Now who said you could get up?” the ring master leaned on his foot, making Jokers body sink deeper into the mud. “You know what Jerome? Dirt’s a good look on you. The resembles to your mother is uncanny” A gruff laugh echoed through the circus.
The weight left him after a few long minutes, his father's point harshly made. He was only worth the mud under his boots. His once primarily white clown suit now had caked up mud, the water from it making parts of the suit stuck to his skin.
Raising up, he kept his head down. Refusing to meet the eyes of the others, he rushed to his small caravan.
Now, everyone was in a group, and every group had a caravan where they slept, eat, and changed.
Jokers caravan was unlike the others. Not only did he have his own, it was small, practically falling apart. It took most of his payments to hold it together.
Rushing inside, Joker slammed his door shut and stalked around inside, fuming at the scene his father gave. The small space held a small bed, a sink, and a cracked mirror. Other than other miscellaneous things, it was not much. But once again no one thought he was much. The bastard child of a ringmaster and a dead whore. Who could blame anyone? He knew jerome was nothing. So he’d no longer be jerome. He’ll show them all. JOKER isn’t someone you could step one. JOKER could kill a man and walk away unscealth. JOKER WAS EVERYTHING JEROME ISN’T.
He took his clothes off and set them in a empty bucket near the door. He stood naked in front of the cracked mirror, the smudges, cracks, and the low light coming from the blind covered window did nothing to help him see. But he could just make out the scars. Crissed-crossed across his body. His medals. His badges of honor. The proof showing he’s more than what they bargain for. And one day, he’ll show them what he’s made of. He’ll show-
The soft creak and increased of light alerted him to someone stepping in his room. He pretended to ignore them at first, knowing who they were.
He waited for the sounds of the lock sliding in place before speaking.
“Its rude not to knock first before entering Harley.”
There was no answer, just the wisp of cloth sliding down and falling to the floor before he felt her body against his back. Arms wrapped around and gripping his chest as she held him closer to her. He felt her soft breast squashed against his back and her nose pressed deep into the base of his neck.
“Sorry Joker, i just needed to get away fr-from her!”
Sobs began to wreak through her body and shook him along also. An annoyance really, he wanted something a little less, hysterical tonight.
Twisting around in her arms, he pulled her deep into his chest, pulling out the elastic bands that held her hair into pigtails. Her hair let loose a little, still stiff from the hair spray she uses. He combs his fingers through it so it was flat against her head.
“Tell me Harl,” he purred in her ear. “What did the whore say this time? I'm a bad influence? A soon to be murderer? Someone just looking for a good fuck? Or did she come up with something new?”
Another hard sob went through his body and he could feel the tears damp on his chest. He felt around the sink for a towel.
Lifting her head up, he shoved the towl in her face and wiped it. Tears and mucus cleaned and eyeliner smudged, Harley stared up at him with big watery eyes.
“What she say doll?” he ground his teeth together as if he could make more patiences that way. Harley didn't notice.
“Sh-she s-said that I was just a l-l-lowly whore and would only a-a-amount to be your f-f-fuck toy!” another wail ripped through her throat and Joker muffled it with his palm. Don’t need to have anyone barging in here.
“Harley, what I don’t understand is why you continue to believe this bitch! I mean look at you! Flying through the air as if you were a bird! Now can some fuck toy do that?” He gave her a smile, trying to get her to calm down so he could…..get what he needed.
Harley took the towel from him and wiped her face again, nodding along words. “Y-you’re right! Fuck her! I'm smart and i'm great at what i do! And you don't use me!” she paused, hand still holding the towel to her face, eyes downcast. “Right?”
Joker gripped the girl's wrist, his hands overlapping and he stared deep into her eyes, showing no emotion.
“Harley.” he began. “If I was using you do you think I’d care for you as I do now? No I wouldn’t. Harley, I love you. Don't let anyone tell you different.” he took the towel from her hands, still keeping eye contact, and set it back on the sink. Still gripping her wrist in one hand, he took his free one and cupped her cheek bringing her lips to his and closing his eyes.
After a couple of minutes he opened and looked down at the girl he was still lipped lock too. Her lashes brushing her cheeks, and mascara still faint on her cheeks. Hair a mess on her head. Not his first pick but he didn't have a lot of choices at the moment.
‘Maybe when she falls asleep i'll sneak into the village, find some dumb kid wandering around.’
Plan made and patience running thin, he picked up Harley, her legs wrapped his waist and arms around his neck, lips still locked. He walked over to the bed and began to devour her.
He had jeans and a jacket he took from his latest conquest in the village. Cute little kid, squealed like a pig and almost as tight as Harley. The bike he snagged was pretty nice too. Maybe he'll keep it.
He took a drag from the cigarette he also took from the kids parents stash. He smirked around it and rode down the same path he and harley was one just a few hours ago. Shoes kicking and overturning stones. Only light guiding him was that of the moon shining through the trees.
He keep going until he came that little fork in the road, the second path leading to the ruins. ‘Curiosity always kills’ wise words from a drunk father.
Joker gripped the jacket closer and made his way to the ruins. He weaved through the rubble until he hit the front porch of the mansion. Leaving the bike on the ground, he stepped through the empty doorway. Most of the walls stood and the chimney basically falling down on top of it all. Walking through the remains was otherworldly. Like he was misplaced in time.
It was wonderful.
He keep going.
He came to the back of the house and it had a giant hole in it. It seemed to be a study. Few books laid around and a broken desk laid in the room.
But was more interesting was the floor.
It would have been ordinary honestly. Old burnt rug, faded floorboards. It would have been normal, if it wasn't for the large latch sticking out from under the rug.
Joker took the edge of the rug and flung it up and over, taking a good look at the hidden door.
The latch was unlocked and the door was slightly open.
Joker felt a large smile grip the edges of his lips.
“How peculiar.” That is all he thought as he reached for the handle.