His name was Thomas Jacques. The day that changed his life forever was on his 11th birthday. Holly Olson was the only attendee at his party; which really wasn’t a party because his dad threatened to ruin it. It was small and Tom and Holly had gone down to the fishing dock to rest their feet in the cold water. Holly had been Tom’s friend since they had been babies. Their mothers often went to the same grocery together and ended up doing small parties and bake sales.
Holly and Tom had always been the best of friends. They agreed on everything and did everything together. They were the same age, although Holly’s birthday had come and gone. They lived in the same, small town and went to the same, small school. In this town everyone knew everyone else. Gossip was the best thing besides the new and improved washing machine.
As Tom and Holly sat down on the dock, they chatted about their future. What they wanted to do was start a police force, all to their selves. How they loved to talk about it. Tom’s father was a personal friend of the Police Commissioner of Gotham, the big city that they lived by.
“Holly, do you know what’s best about today?” Tom asked her as he dipped his whole leg into the water.
“No, what?” Holly said, curious.
“You are here with me. I’d be so alone without you. Life is so tough here. I’m glad you’re my friend, Holly.”
“I’m glad you’re my friend too, Tom.”
“You know what? I’m bored…You wanna go someplace cool?” Tom asked Holly, who looked to him, excited.
“Sure, but where?”
“C’mon, follow me!”
Tom led Holly off the dock and onto the dirt path that led around to the side of the house. They ran hand in hand for a ways, past the house and into Tom’s father’s field. In the field was a great, big warehouse that held his father’s factory. Holly and Tom giggled as they got to the back entrance.
“Are you sure we should be in here?” Holly had asked Tom right as he unbolted the door.
“No, but it’s better than being bored,” he had replied, looking at her with his dark eyes. It was a challenging look, one that he knew she couldn’t pass up.
“Ok, Tom.” She relented.
He pulled her inside and shut the door behind him. They turned around in the dark, large space.
“Hold on a minute,” Tom said. He went to the big electrical compartment and pulled the huge lever up. It took all of his strength although he was just as tall as his father was. The lights came on, burning bright way overhead. Tom and Holly blinked in the light, nearly blinded. Around them were piles and piles of steel and pipes. Tom’s father made this a steel factory. He had workers, but had given them the day off in lieu of his son’s birthday.
“Wow,” Holly said, admiring the high ceilings and the sawdust floors.
“It’s nothing,” Tom said, jaded.
“No, this place is incredible!”
“I don’t think so…” Tom climbed atop of a row of boxes and sat down, chin in his hands. His dark hair was cut neatly into the army cut his father always made him get every two months.
“Holly, I wanna run away, will you run away with me?” Tom asked.
“You’re kidding. Right, Tom?” Holly laughed in her girlish laugh. Her long blonde hair flowed around her face and her green eyes were filled with twinkling stars.
“No, Holly. I want to leave. I can’t take it here anymore,” Tom said, stifling a sob.
“Tom, this isn’t funny, please stop!” Holly begged.
“Holly, I’m serious. I want to leave. You don’t know how hard it is for me here,” Tom said, his voice extremely sincere.
“C’mon Tom, why so serious? You have your whole life ahead of you, as do I! Why ruin it by becoming a runaway? What will happen to our future? My future? What about the police business? Do you wanna help Gotham or not?” Holly asked.
“That was just a dream, Holly. You know that and I know that. We can’t live off of dreams for the rest of our lives. We have to grow up sometime!” Tom exclaimed, his voice echoing in the empty factory.
“We don’t have to grow up now, Tom,” Holly said quietly before turning away so he couldn’t see her tears.
“I’m leaving tonight, Holly,” Tom said.
“Why Tom? Has your father hurt you that bad?” Holly cried.
Tom stood up on the boxes and unbuttoned his shirt. He took it off and turned around. He heard Holly gasp and smiled grimly in satisfaction.
“He did that to you?” Holly asked in astonishment. She was staring at lash marks from hip to shoulder on the young man’s back.
Satisfied that he’d made his point, Tom put his shirt back on.
“Yes, he did that and he’s gonna continue to do it until I leave. So I’m leaving!” Tom said before sitting down again.
“Oh, Tom, you know I can’t leave with you! I want to, I really do, but I gotta take care of my mama. You know she needs me,” Holly wasn’t letting the tears go; she was trying so hard to conceal them.
“I figured as much Holly. But that’s ok, really. I’ll come back for you, I promise,” Tom said. “Come ‘ere,” Tom gestured towards her.
She went up to him and looked into his eyes. “I will come back for you and no one in the world is going to stop me. Not anything, not anyone. I will hold it to my life to come back and get you out of this Hell hole,” Tom said with as much vindication as he could muster. Holly marveled at how grown up he was. He had aged beyond years.
“Ok, Tom,” Holly said.
Tom reached down and gently kissed Holly on the lips.
“HEY YOU! WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?” Tom’s father bellowed, startling them both. Holly flew to the other side of the door and cowered there.
“I was telling Holly about how I’m running away,” Tom said, jumping off of the box and standing tall, waiting for his father to round the boxes.
“I TOLD YOU TO NEVER, EVER COME IN HERE! WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN HERE?” Tom’s father yelled again.
“I said I was telling Holly about how I’m running off,” Tom said, puffing his chest out and waiting for the worst. On a second thought, he moved in front of Holly, his intent to protect her.
“RUNNING OFF EH?” Tom’s father was now in front of him. He was red in the face and his fists were clenched at his sides.
“Yes, I’m going away. I’m tired of taking your crap,” Tom said, his own fists clenched.
“We’ll see about that,” Tom’s father growled menacingly. In one quick motion, he stepped forward and grabbed Tom by the nape of the neck and forced him to walk beside him.
“We’re gonna teach you a lesson, you little sonofabitch. We’ll see who’s running away.”
As Tom was being dragged to his doom, Holly got up and followed. His father hadn’t seen her yet. She crouched down behind the boxes; just where she could see what would be happening. She watched as Tom was dragged to a large buzz saw. His father used his free hand to turn the saw on.
“We’ll see about this won’t we?” Tom’s father asked him, shaking poor Tom like a rag doll. When the saw was running, spinning, spinning, spinning, Tom’s father forced Tom’s head underneath the saw and held him there. With his other hand, he brought down the saw on his son’s head. Tom was face up, the saw in line with his mouth. “We don’t share family secrets, we don’t go into family factories, we don’t break the rules; no you must be punished!” And with that, the saw was brought down on Tom. It sliced right through the skin on his mouth on both sides. Tom screamed in pain and before his father unflinching pulled the saw up, it grazed his tongue. Pain went through him and he cried in agony.
Holly screamed into her dress and escaped through the door. She vomited right outside, and still crying, ran for help.
Inside the warehouse, Tom was dropped onto the floor, bleeding out while his father reached for the hidden bottle of schnapps. He chuckled as he took a drink from the nearly empty bottle and stared down at his bleeding and writhing son. “I have to agree with Holly, why so serious, Tom?”
Suddenly, spurred by the great rush of adrenaline in his veins, Tom jumped up and grabbed his father by the neck and pushed his head down to the blade. Surprised, his father fell into the blade and Tom felt satisfied as the whirring of the blade turned into a mushy, slick sound. Without looking back at his handiwork, Tom ripped off his own shirt and pressed it to his mouth, soaking it through almost immediately. He ran to the far entrance and went through the open door. He ran and ran and ran. He was going to Gotham to get his face fixed. He didn’t know where, or how, or even why, but he knew he would.
Tom now had the taste of a killer. The very first taste of his first kill imprinted in his memory forever. He tried to laugh at the thoughts of his father, being dead, but all that came out was a gurgle.
Nine years later, at age twenty, Tom finally mustered the courage to leave Gotham to visit his dear Holly. He had missed her, but couldn’t come out of hiding with the mob. Yes, the mob. He had been taken in by them when he was just eleven years old. They had an Italian doctor in the mob and he had done his best to repair Tom’s face. When Tom was thirteen, he killed the doctor because he’d made fun of the outcome. Tom now had a name for himself. When the mob brought him in, they taught him to steal, and to gamble. Soon after, he was winning every card game with a slight of hand and was soon called the Joker. The name stuck and Gotham soon learned to fear that name and his hideous face. Along with, of course, his calling card.
Tom wasn’t thinking about that now as he got into his car and sped towards his old home in the suburbs. The suburbs had grown, he’d noticed and the field around his house was now used as a junkyard and a place for homeless people to stay. Tom was thinking about Holly. His dear, sweet Holly.
When Tom got to Holly’s house, he didn’t stop to think about what he would say, he didn’t stop to think if she would still be there. He didn’t think about his face, or his strange purple jacket and pants. No, Tom didn’t think for an instant. He just went to the front door and knocked.
“Hello?” an old lady answered the door.
“Holly here?” Tom asked.
“Sweet Lord, who are you? Leave right now! I’LL CALL THE COPS!” The lady screamed at him before shutting the door in his face. He wasn’t about to let that happen. He kicked the old front door and grabbed the lady by her throat, pinning her against the wall.
“Tell me where she is!” Tom hissed.
“She’s g-gone!” the lady whimpered
“She-she’s no longer with us.”
“Where did she go?” Tom demanded, tightening his grip.
“She died, of cholera after Tom left!” The lady said.
Tom dropped her on the floor and leaned against the wall. So this was it. She died because of his father. Oh, how he hated his father. He would pay for this. He would avenge Holly. He would make the big city pay.