"Here you go, your first case." Dr. Gerald slapped it onto my new desk. The file was thick as a phone book and had multiple tags sticking out of it.
Curious, I opened it to find the picture of patient 3204, AKA The Joker. He had his hair pulled back and dye free, natural, dried out, blond, curly. His face was free of the make up but his scars were very familiar. His eyes, mischievous and cold, stared at the camera like he was judging me. "But, he's- he's the Joker. You can't be serious! I'm fresh out of my internship! Surely there's someone more qualified-"
"Of course there is, but everyone has to do their time with the Joker. It also serves to weed out the potential threats. If you can get through 90 days with the Joker as your patient, you can move on to other cases." He said. "Your first session is tomorrow. I suggest you read up."
In other words, no one wanted another Harley Quinn incident and no one else wanted to have him as a patient. He left me to my devices as I turned on my small little radio and got to work. He'd been diagnosed with everything: paranoia, schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, depression, bipoloar tendencies, ADD, ADHD, this guy had it all.
I leaned back in my chair, a handful of papers on my lap as I read through them. I brushed a strand of hair behind my ear and adjusted my neckerchief. It was rather hot in here, but I was loathe to remove it.
The sound of my heels clacked against the hard floor. I was looking through my notes again, trying to make sure I'd remembered everything when I heard someone clear their throat. I looked up to find a bunch of guards, all in full riot gear. I must have looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a MAC truck, because that was what I felt like. "Oh, hello." I gave a weak smile, my fingers brushing against my neckerchief. It was my silk one, the best one I had. A present from my mother for graduating college.
"Please give me the file so that we can frisk you." One of the guards said. "Another will check your credentials."
"We have to be sure you aren't carrying anything dangerous." I nodded and handed him the file and another came up to me, patting me down. He took my extra pencils and my clipboard, trading me for a regular notepad instead. He went to take my neckerchief, but I put my hand up to block him. "He could use that to strangle you."
"He could use his bare hands for that too, but I doubt you've cut them off. Please, just let me see my patient." He looked to another guard, who had a computer, and nodded. The others nodded back and he let me pass.
I walked through the doorway and found myself in what might have been an interrogation room. A small table and a chair, a yellow line with the words 'DO NOT CROSS' repeating was laid across the floor and I felt rather warm. I fiddled with my neckerchief again. "We will be just outside if you need us. Patient 3204 will join you shortly. Do not attempt to touch him nor release his bonds. You will maintain a three foot distance between you and the subject. Should he so much as lift a finger, you call us. Do you understand?" I nodded, but he waited for a verbal reply.
"I understand. Thank you."
"Please sit and wait for the patient." I nodded again and did so.
As I waited, I set his file to the side and got out a recorder. I was actually surprised they'd let me keep it, but it was a necessary tool of the trade. They didn't keep me waiting long, as a door I had not seen opened on the other side of the room and the feared clown prince of crime was wheeled in. He was in a straight jacket and had belts strapping him to the chair. He was cackling so hard he was already straining against them.
A ball of ice settled into my stomach as they pushed him to the center of his area. Before I could say anything, I Was left alone with him. His hair was pulled back into a low pony tail and his face was clear of any grease paint. I waited for him to settle down and turned the recorder on. As soon as I did, he stopped and looked at me, like I was a bug under his shoe he couldn't wait to squish.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Reese. I'm your new psychiatrist and we'll be together for the next 90 days." I said as professionally as I could.
He stared at me for a moment more before he burst out laughing like I'd just said the best joke in the world. I flinched away from the sound, harsh and terrifying as it was. I watched as the skin around his scars pulled and stretched.
I touched my neckerchief subconsciously, making sure it was still there. I waited until he was finished again, this time allowing him to catch his breath. I waited for him to say something, expecting anything from a bad joke to him poking at my personal appearance, but he said nothing. I cleared my throat, rubbing my throat a bit before I picked up my pencil and started to shade in a corner and jot down a note about how quiet he was. When I managed to look at him again, he was just staring at me. His eyes glittering. I could see his mind working on how best to respond to me. "I don't know if you have a window in your cell, but the day is beautiful. A bit cold, but the sun is bright. There's not a cloud in the sky. I hit a bird on the way here, but other than that it's a beautiful day." He didn't say anything, his eyes didn't waver. "It was a robin, I think. A young one. It wasn't very big, anyways." I shrugged and fell silent. He started laughing again.
"Hit a robin!" He cackled. The laugh didn't last as long as the others, but it was still unsettling. When he calmed down again he just smiled at me. "I'm going to enjoy this." His voice was nasally and high.
I cocked my head at him a little. "How so?"
He chuckled this time. "So, what's first? You wanna know how I got my scars? Or uh, you want to know about my mommy and daddy. Or, I know! You wanna know how I'm feeling?" He made a sad face as he mocked me.
"That would be nice if I thought you'd tell me the truth, but I have multiple versions of your mother and father and the stories you've told about your scars. I don't see what else there is to say." I pointed to his file. "I highly doubt you'll tell me anything useful, but I've got all day. So, go ahead, give it your best shot." I gave him my bravest smile as he laughed again.
"I'm definitely going to enjoy this."
"Well, it's your time, Mr. Joker." I pushed. He gave me a smirk and leaned back in his chair.
"You're so serious. How about, uh, I tell a, uh, joke?"
"Did you hear the one about the guard?"
I thought for a moment. "...nooo. I don't think I did."
"He had a Riot!" Joker laughed hard at his own joke.
I couldn't help but crack a lopsided smile at the unexpectedness of it.