The Darkest Night

"All things truly wicked start from innocence." Ernest Hemingway

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13. Meanwhile

"You know, by hiring you to do this, I'm taking a risk. You have no credibility in this city," the Italian accented man explained, speaking to someone concealed by a shadow.

"Don't you worry a bit, Sal. Our friend won't know what hit him," the man in the darkness replied.

"How much do you want for the job?" Maroni asked.

“Hmmmm. Just give me some guys, guns, and throw in some fireworks for good measure. Heh."

The man emerged from the darkness, revealing his face to Maroni. He was tall—taller than most. Green hair, red lips, pale white skin. A cheap purple suit with some green accents. The Joker. That’s what he was calling himself. 

"Consider it done. You know, for a guy who claims he can kill the Bat, you're pretty cheap," Maroni explained, lighting a cigarette with a wooden match. The pungent smell of his cigar filled the room instantly. The Joker made a disgusted face.

"You know, smoking is a nasty habit, Sal," he said, following a deep sniff.  

"That's Mr. Maroni to you, Clown," a thug said from behind Maroni's desk.

The Joker's chaotic smile vanished, replace by an angry frown.

"Did you ever hear the one about the henchman with the broken glass in his stomach?" the Joker asked, cackling slightly.

"N-no. I'd rather not," the thug replied, trying to stand firm despite the newfound fear within him.

"When I tell a joke, you'd better listen for the punchline. Hell, you might even be the punchline! HAHAHAHA!" The Joker doubled over in a fit of laughter, only to be interrupted by the sound of breaking glass followed by thick, white smoke filling the room. The door busted open and several armed SWAT members wearing gas masks entered, followed by Lieutenant Gordon. 

"This is the GCPD! You are all under arrest!" Gordon called out. The thugs surrendered with almost no fight, and the Joker managed to slip away, as if he was never even there.  

"Hehehehe....HAHAHAHAHA! You and I are going to have a fun night, Bats!" The Joker skipped down the alley on the opposite side of the building the police were raiding. A few henchmen reluctantly decided to follow him. "Don't worry, boys. I know how to treat you thugs right!"

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