He laughs. He can’t help it. His body won’t stop. So he keeps laughing.
Was there something funny? Of course there wasn’t. They were all scorning at him, as if blaming him. He knew he had to stop, but he kept chuckling, until one man hit him in the stomach, sending his scrawny body flying for a few meters. As he now lies on the ground, a smile plastered on his face but his eyes screaming in pain, the man who punched him displays a mix of disgust and confusion, then turns back, preparing to leave. Arthur’s senses have returned, and he can finally wipe off this ugly grin from his figure. As he does so and slowly stands back up, the people gradually disperse, losing whatever small interest they could have had watching him laugh. Arthur slowly becomes invisible, insignificant; he melts with the dirty concrete of the road, the trash piling on the sidewalk. Even the nauseous smell of the gutter seems to permeate his very being, absorbing him into this gigantic living mass called Gotham city, teeming with parasites and yet moving as if it had its own volition.
Arthur chuckles again, contemplating his negligible existence, in a place where everybody laughs at something nobody ever finds funny. His mother always said he would bring joy to the world. Now that he thought about this, wasn’t it that same mother who lied to him about everything? That won’t do. That won’t do! Here he is, laughing again. How come he never stopped believing in that dream of his and hers, even after he learned of her betrayal? Like a tamed elephant who wouldn’t try to break his chains because it never worked when it was a calf, Arthur realized he couldn’t let go of that hope even though it had been meaningless all along. Always chasing after a pipe dream, always trying to cope with such an unreasonable world.
Isn’t it enough? Isn’t it high time he woke up from this nightmare? He won’t be able to fight society forever. It’s already tough just coping with work and his mother. Both he just lost, by the way. Wait, doesn’t that mean everything’s fine then? No, that’s not the point! It was just a way of saying it. What he means, is that he needs to keep his act together, or he won’t ever be able to get out of his misery. He won’t ever be able to be happy. He won’t ever be able to laugh from the bottom of his heart. At that moment, Arthur titters and holds his sides: it’s too much, he can’t take it. He won’t ever get out of his misery? Be happy? Laugh from the bottom of his heart? That sounds very much like negative thoughts. He wouldn’t want that, would he? He needs to dispel them. But here comes the scoop: all his thoughts are negative thoughts! Arthur can’t hold it anymore: the sarcasms contained in his puny frame, crawling along his veins and growing like weeds, catching fire as they reach his volcanic entrails, have become too ardent. They erupt as an explosive guffaw, and Arthur bursts in a fit of laughter. No good. The man had started leaving, but he’s coming back. Arthur, he tells himself, he’s going to hit you again. He perfectly knows, and yet he can’t help it. His body won’t stop. So he keeps laughing. He’s impossible, he thinks. So unreasonable. But it’s not him. It’s them. Why can’t they leave him alone? They never see him. They never look at him. Why should he stop? Why isn’t he free to savour the absurdity of his life as he sees fit? The man has returned. He takes his stance, facing Arthur, who smiles eerily before him.
And a deafening impact sound resonates in the plaza.
Everything’s painted red: the ground, Arthur’s clothes, even his vision is blurred by a few crimson drips. Is it that the blood went to his head? No, silly. Is it his blood that is splashed all around him? It might be. But that’s very unlikely, as he’s still standing, contrary to that angry man. Is it the man’s blood then? Yes, it probably is, given the black, glaring hole crowned with dozens of magnificent red petals releasing steam right in place of his right eye. Mesmerized, Arthur looks at his right hand, holding a gun he didn’t remember taking out. Some woman shrieks and runs off. Soon, it’s mayhem on the streets. Arthur can’t believe his eyes. It only took one bullet to become visible for good! The chaos he awakened reminds him of his internal fire: it had been waiting for the spark that would light it up. Arthur can’t help it: the corners of his mouth won’t go down.
He’s found it. He’s found his way to laugh from the bottom of his heart. All this time, he had been searching for it. Now, he knows what he wants.
He just wants to watch the world burn.
This text was heavily inspired by the movie Joker directed by Todd Phillips, which I strongly advise you to watch.