I’m different now. Something has changed in me these last few weeks, and I didn’t even see it until I met the Riddler.
It’d be stupid to say that it was being exposed, having myself paraded around as a crazy person again, the threat of Arkham hanging over my head. And why? Because of what the Joker did to me. Not what I’ve done with myself since then; the Jape is dangerous, but he wouldn’t be thought of as crazy if not for the fact that when I was wearing the mask I didn’t have to hold everything so tight.
The smile is bad enough for me on a good day, mocking my real happiness and making any pain look ridiculous. Turning it into a disfigurement for other people, though, grinding my teeth so they’d know that I knew that it looked nuts and to assure them I took no pleasure in my own God damned face? That’s where the bitterness came from. That, and the fact that for some people even that wasn’t enough.
After the Batman died things were crazy all over Gotham, and Grant was no exception even if it wasn’t hit as hard, but I kept my head down. I hardly ever went out. I was tolerated by my neighbors so I tolerated them back.
Then some of Falcone’s men moved in on Mr. Taggert’s business, showed up banging on his door at 1am, scared his wife, flashed a piece. Just seeing my face was enough to spook them, at least enough that me refusing to go back inside my apartment, and that was when the change started.
Because at the exact same instant I saw the flash of temporary fear in their eyes, I saw a hint of relief on Mr. Taggert’s face. I followed those men that night, back to their homes.
Being the Jape has saved me, and even though I thought I was angry at the world it turns out I just needed to be something new. I was bitter, for good reason, but these last few weeks have washed some of that away. I am angry, but now that anger means something.
Like a riddle, or a pencil, it has a point.