She still planned her book in her head, sometimes. The index page was pink, and the little satin placeholder was red. The text was a little different for each part, because Dr. Quinzel was a Times New Roman kind of gal, while Harley Quinn lived in Comic Sans.
Before Times New Roman and Comic Sans, there was the before-the-beginning time, the early years, when Guy tickled her sides and said things like, “Harls, I’m going to marry you one of these days.” Harls pages probably wouldn’t make much sense. Even years later, thinking of the one-that-got-away-via-suicide turned her heart into a soda can, shaken hard but never opened.
There would be footnotes in strange places, footnotes that turned into their own chapters, covering topics like ‘Chaos Theory’, ‘Smilex Gas’, and ‘Superheroes in Spandex’. She was loathe to give Batman anything more than a footnote, because she knew if it was her Puddin’ writing the book he’d be in everything and behind every word, as if the letters in the story were the skyscrapers of Gotham. She hated Batman like ugly girls in middle school hate cheerleaders, a sad, largely unnoticed kind of hate for something one could never be. She knew Mistah J loved her, not that anyone believed her, but she had to work harder for his love than Batman did, that was for damn sure. Batman might not even get a footnote. He got enough damn attention as it was.
She remembered reading a book in school that represented a character’s death by using a solid black page. She’d do that, too, for Guy. That meant ‘Part I: Guy Loves Harls’ would end with a solid, unforgiving, dead as doornails black page. On the very next page, ‘Part II: Paging Dr. Quinzel’ would start with a footnote in one corner explaining the exact measurements of a skirt before it’s short enough to hint at the transition from thigh to buttock, to make wrinkly, twisted Psych professors unable to resist getting a good grip on the ass and allowing them a view of pink panty crotch when one bends over to retrieve a fallen pen.
A bell chimes through her padded cell, and she pops her panty-pink bubblegum bubble with a satisfying smack. She is lying off her cot at a strange angle (after learning years before that it was much easier to organize thoughts whilst hanging upside down). The chime reminds her that soon it will be time to go to the common room. She glances to her upper right at the clear door, in the direction of Ivy, and hopes they have the same common room slot for the day.
Ivy, she thinks, will get several chapters labeled with the disclaimer, “Do NOT Read, Mr. J!!!” These chapters will talk about misty, foggy, rainy mornings in a long sleeved white shirt with a tiny brown vine curled around her wrist as she sleeps, so that if she gets up, Ivy will know. She will fondly recollect, in poetic passages, the soft touches in the night, first over wounds and then over tingly bits. Kisses, too, that should have tasted like poison and should have been with her man, but actually tasted like strawberry and were pretty damn special even though no Joker was involved.
The one time the Joker had asked about it, she’d merely said she thought of him always, all the time, even when she was with Ivy. That was true, mostly, but there had been moments, chapter-worthy moments, when Ivy made her forget everything except the desire to be naked with her, cocooned in vines, orchids laced through her hair and pansies tickling her toes. Ivy knew romance. Though she swore she never would compare them, there were definitely times when a rubber chicken filled with razor blades poked her the wrong way during sex and she thought wistfully of rose petals. Joker would never get to read those chapters, though, so it didn’t matter if she loved Ivy instead of him for a few paragraphs.
A guard appeared in her line of vision and she let herself slide off the bed, flopping onto the floor in a puddle of gymnast. She’d worked her limbs out and managed to stand by the time he swiped his clearance card and entered, bearing cuffs. The sight of them reminded her that a footnote would never offer enough space to explain all the ways Joker had taught her to kill someone with handcuffs. Mentally, she scribbled, ‘Chapter 69: Look, Ma, No Hands!’
Because she wanted to see Ivy, and she had nothing else better to do, she let him cuff her and lead her out. She tried not to give the guards too much grief. She still remembered being their boss and knowing that Terrance had three kids to support and Curtis was saving to go back to college.
Scratch that. Curtis saved to go back to college prior to being killed in a successful Joker breakout attempt. She was kind of glad. It was easier to kill when you didn’t know the person. It made loving easier, too. She was the first person to admit she didn’t know the Joker like most lovers knew their partners. His personality was like a kaleidoscope, pretty, mesmerizing, ever-unfamiliar, patterns unpredictable. She smiled, giggled a bit, thinking her Puddin’ would be a kaleidoscope with ink on the rim, so that anyone who looked through him got a black eye…in more ways than one.
“What’s so funny, Quinzel?” the guard asked gruffly, because gruff is the language of guards.
“Nothin’ I guess. Hey, ya ever notice that when ya chew gum your brain flexes?”
“I think that’s actually a different muscle, probably pullin’ the jaw,” he replied, smiling patronizingly. She shrugged little girl shoulders to brush the tips of her little girl pigtails, and said with her big baby blue eyes ‘Gosh, mister, I never would a thought of that!’ and secretly noted to kill him later, the smug know-it-all bastard. Mistah J always knew what she was really thinking in moments like that, and he loved her for it. “You have to be crazy to understand women, Harley-girl,” he said once, “And I’m the craziest of all!”
Through ant hill hallways to a dingy common room, hurrah hurray. Another bored smack! of gum, and she itched her arm disinterestedly. No Ivy, definitely no Puddin’, and only no-name nutcases for company. Way number six (strangulation) over the corpse, out the window, free as a bird.
She picked up a box of checkers instead, contenting herself to launch the little discs of red and black at the vegetable crazies with drool dangling down their jaws. Nine hits out of ten, and no guard had noticed. ‘Gotta keep the skills sharp’ she thought with a clownish smile.
Realizing there was no more entertainment to be had at the expense of others, she pushed one crazy off the couch and commandeered the remote. Click Click Click and kids’ cartoons exploded onto the screen in Technicolor fireworks, her favorite show to zone out to. In her head, she pages to the end of her book, where blank, pink paper still waits for a gripping conclusion.
‘Today,’ she thinks with a smile, ‘Joker and I will run away to Vegas for a shotgun wedding, or perhaps a wedding involving shotguns.’
She begins to write, knowing with satisfaction that her life story can’t be anything but a bestseller, unwilling to live it any other way.