Smile - A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words - 1/22/2022
What I see
A picture of The Joker character from Batman dressed as Ronald McDonald's. A McDonald's outlet can be seen in the background along what seems to be a park track. The sunny day seems to be in contrast to the danger that a villain like The Joker is poses.
What I feel
I feel like there's a sense of defeat being portrayed here. Instead of a criminal mastermind, we seem to have a Joker that has been reduced to a normal wage slave, a shift worker in a global MNC. The look on his face is equally as telling- it looks like one of resignation and defeat.
"You there! Jack! Stop lazing around and get to that customer now!", bellowed the shift manager.
Jack whipped his head around and glared menacingly at the short, balding, pot-bellied man who was his boss. He grunted and quickly shuffled his way to the counter to attend to the line of customers in queue.
"Smile at the customers when you serve them too!", roared the manager. Jack shrugged his shoulders and forced his best impression of a smile, which was more of a grimace than anything else.
As the night dawned and the store finally shut for the day, Jack swept his sweat laced locks of hair up his forehead as he finally had a chance to take a break. He slumped back into the chair as he wondered how it had all gone wrong. Just a decade ago, he had the entire city under his thumb as everyone bowed to his power.
As the foremost head of the largest and most powerful criminal syndicate in the city, his tendrils of power spread far and wide into every nook and cranny of the city. Nearly every person of any influence and the entire police force was on his payroll. Even the other influential criminal families acknowledged his power and pledged allegiance to him. The entire city had become his personal fiefdom, and he sat on that throne and ruled it with an iron fist.
One event had changed it all. His attempt to bribe the last remaining holdout among the business leaders of the city, Bruce Wayne, had been rebuffed. In retaliation, he had Wayne Towers destroyed. Bombed to the ground by what seemed to be a terrorist attack, and along with it, the death of Bruce Wayne himself too.
His conquest of the city complete, he had his sights set on neighboring cities as well. Never had he imagined that would be the day the infernal Batman appeared. His operations were disrupted and his empire taken down piecemeal as his lieutenants were taken out one by one by someone who's ruthlessness rivalled his.
As he lost influence and the secretive Batman took over the reigns of his former criminal empire to become the new criminal overlord of the city, he found himself in a last gasp throw of the dice showdown with his rival. Imagine his surprise when he found out that The Batman was the long dead Bruce Wayne. The irony of it all - the upright and righteous owner of Wayne Enterprises who had rebuffed his bribes was now the new criminal overlord of the city.
He was surprisingly spared though, condemned instead to 10 years in an asylum seemingly for a mental breakdown. Trying to tell the authorities that a long dead person was The Batman, and the new leader of the criminal underworld he once led, had everyone convinced he was stark raving mad.
"Stop daydreaming Jack!", boomed the voice of the store manager again. Snapping back into reality of his present situation again, he glared at his boss and picked up a mop to start cleaning up the place. As he did so however, he tripped over the pail of water, spilling it all over the floor. "You clumsy oaf!", roared the manager as he gave Jack such a hard slap across the face that it drew blood. "I should never have hired you and left you to rot in that madhouse!"
He stared down at his reflection on the puddle of water on the floor as a few drops of blood trickled down, staining the water with streaks of red. He gave a big smile though, as he smeared the blood across his lips as if it was lipstick. Grinning widely at the store manager, he clobbered him repeatedly on the head with the mop in his hand, until there was nothing left of his head but a steaming pile of smashed brains on the floor.
He laughed hysterically as a great load seemed to have been lifted off his shoulders. His steps felt lighter than they had ever been as he merrily skipped out of the store. A few moments later, the entire place exploded behind him, the gas from the stoves he left open behind him having finally come into contact with the lit cigarette he left at the doorstep.
He smiled again at his handiwork. His joy in life had been reignited. He was going to reclaim his lost empire. This time, he would do it differently, with no holds barred. Everyone called him crazy. He would show the world crazy. He would now be known as The Joker!