Bad Luck & Good Enemies

Water Gardens

The Gardens are.. huge, to say the least. The water burbles down the granite steps; water falls down to the catch basin in the bottom several dozen large steppes below the top. There are raised, dry granite blocks that serve a steps designed to bring the visitor down and into the middle of the water display, with mist rising off the blocks in a gentle, almost rain.

At the bottom of basin, there is a single plume of water that bursts up from the center, spraying light droplets, carried by the breeze.

Colored lights shine from the side blocks at night, shimmering through the flows of water, giving a vibrant, living quality to it. Closer to the pool, the colors are more vivid, more vibrant as there is less white light pollution from the top. The greens, blues, yellows all streaming across the surface to flicker and change, melding into new colors as they play against what visitors wear.

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It's a reasonably pleasant evening. The humidity is lower than it has been in weeks, and there's even a slight breeze. For the last couple of years, Mia's been told of Ft. Worth's Water Gardens, but she's never been there. Odd how people travel for hours to see the ocean, but neglect things right on their doorstep. Mia has seen some of the sights around Dallas, but not so Ft. Worth.

Since it's her day off, and Mia hasn't any other plans, she finally makes the hour-plus drive from her place to Dallas' sister city. Traffic alone is enough to make her regret her decision. The tangle of interstates, highways and city streets is no picnic to maneuver, and more than once Mia is forced to consult a map. Her old mini-van doesn't come with a GPS, and Mia's no great map-reader. No wonder she's a frazzled mess when she finally arrives at her destination.

The sun has already set, taking with it the heat. Camera in hand, Mia wanders down the stone steps, pausing now and then to snap a picture of some interesting play of color in the water.


Michael moves through the Water Garden with a casual confident step. As is so often the case, his expression shows no sign of human emotion, no hint at feeling yet rather than the usual bleakness tonight it almost lends itself to a sense of contentment as he takes in his surroundings, his opinion of course impossible to guess.


Despite the traffic and frustration, there is something soothing and calming about the sound of flowing water. The mist is cooling, refreshing, and Mia finds herself entering an almost meditative state. There is a bench at one level, and there she chooses to sit, letting her distracted state of mind flow away with the water.

After about ten minutes of quiet reflection, Mia lifts her camera and aims it toward the spire of water which shoots skyward. Colors play on the mist, forming rainbows even at night. Ripples on the water slipping over the flat stone steps reflect the colors: red, blue, green, yellow. A myriad of ever-changing patterns, none ever the same.

It is only when she lowers the camera does Mia realize she has captured more than simply the water. Looking up at the tall, pale man, she seems contrite. "Ah … please forgive my rudeness," she says, bowing her head respectfully. "It was not my intention to take your picture without permission." Fortunately, with digital cameras, it's easy to delete unwanted pictures.


Michael had been facing away from Mia, his own attention also on the water, there's no way to tell if he's aware that his picture was taken. He turns as he's spoken to his own head nodding slightly to the woman. "No need to apologize, I was no doubt in your frame." He glances around a moment. "It seems there's much to photograph, the water is beautiful."


"Very beautiful, yes," Mia agrees. She studies the man, noting his pale skin, the lack of human expression, the complete stillness of him. She was aware of vampires even before the "great reveal;" they are one of the more easily noted of the supernatural beings who inhabit the human world. "It is also very peaceful and soothing. I see now why I was told to visit."

She rises from the bench, approaching the edge of the steps, not far from where the vampire stands. "I find it so strange that many people complain of the humidity here, and come to this place of water and mist. 'Is a puzzlement,' as the king of Siam would say." Now she's standing, she can properly bow. "Again, I beg you to forgive my rudeness. It is not polite to capture a person's image without their permission. I will, if you prefer, delete the photo."

As if to prove her honesty, Mia pulls up the photograph on her digital camera. "I must say, it is an interesting picture. All the color, and your silhouette so solid and dark. The play of color is intriguing."


Nodding Michael remains motionless as he listens to Mia. "Honestly, I quite enjoy the humidity; it helps cover some of the less pleasant scents in the air these days." He pauses a moment considering the statement. "In all honesty I'm always amazed at how much effort goes into creating places of beauty like this; all the while so much effort also goes into destroying the natural beauty of the world." He glances at the picture. "If you like the picture then keep it. I really have no objection."


Mia's face betrays very little emotion, though it's obvious she is quite human. It is the cool, enigmatic stoicism of her Japanese ancestry which gives her such composure. She bows her head in gratitude. "Many thanks. I like to study contrasts. It is an odd quirk of humanity, to create artificial beauty and destroy the beauty nature has already provided. This place — at least it is an enhancement of natural beauty, not a destruction."

Mia moves back to the bench, collecting her purse before moving a little farther down the steps. "I'm told to stand beneath the geyser is to feel as if the rain kisses your soul," Mia says in an off-hand manner. Other people are moving up and down the steps, some chatting amiably, others quieter, appreciating the cool mist.

"I'm but an amateur photographer. I'm sure others with more skill could capture the spirit of this place far better. Mark, one of the volunteers at the museum where I work, is quite a good photographer. Perhaps I will suggest he come here and try to capture the color and mist." Mia nods again to Michael, never quite looking him in the eyes. She was told that many years ago by her grandmother.

It's not exactly an invitation to join her on the descent, but she's not objecting to his company. They have not exchanged names; for Mia, anonymity is preferable.


With a slow nod Michael takes a look at the scenery, he seems to give the words some thought. "I don't know that it's necessarily confined to humanity. As for the enhancement of natural beauty? I'm not certain it's so much an enhancement as an … alteration." He begins to make the descent, once more turning his attention to the water. "I don't think anyone can take a 'better' photograph. The simple fact is you capture your beauty as you see it."


Mia turns back toward the man, listening, then nodding. "It is a work of art, this place," she says thoughtfully, apparently considering. "Perhaps I misspoke. This place was already transformed from the natural to a city. The one who created this place, took concrete and steel and built of it a thing of beauty."

She pauses, then adds, "The water is natural, yes, but the rest? No. Still," and she pauses to look out over the vast channels of water splashing its way downward to the collection pool, "art has its own appeal. An artist creates their own beauty, but it is beautiful art only in the eye of the beholder."

That said, Mia smiles. If a mere lift of the lips can be called smiling. For the most part, her facial expression remains passive and almost unemotional. Inscrutable, as many Asians are called. "Then, I find beauty in many things others would call horrific." Wry. Yes, that's the expression. "After all, I work in a place founded upon the death of a good man, and the fascination of others with the place of his murder." Intriguing words, those.


Nodding Michael pauses a moment. "Beauty is about perspective; if you can find that perspective you can find beauty in anything, although I've yet to meet anyone who can manage that." He seems to give the area some thought. "Honestly, I much preferred the area before the city was here, a pointless comparison, but there you have it." He frowns a little. "Really? And if you don't mind my asking where exactly is it that you work?"


Trust a vampire to pick up on the macabre. Still, Mia does have that streak of the perverse which gives her sense of humor a few quirks. "I cannot say much about this area as I'm a relative newcomer," the Eurasian woman says slowly while aiming her camera at the central pool. "It was already fully built when I arrived. I take it you saw it before the modern era." It's more statement than question. Then again, he is a vampire.

Lowering the camera, Mia rests against one of the granite blocks, her diminutive height preventing her from sitting atop it. "You have been here for many years, then." A nod of her head. "It goes without question, I assume, that much has changed in the past century or so. I've seen photographs of early Dallas, and I assume Ft. Worth was much the same. Cattle and cattlemen, saloons and clapboard buildings."

Finally, though, Mia answers the vampire's question. "The Sixth Floor Museum." That might actually mean something to a man who witnessed far more history than most people can imagine. "Need I say more?"


Shaking his head Michael laughs. "Everywhere has changed, even the air has changed, and yes. I was here before the city, although I haven't spent more than perhaps … thirty of the last hundred years here." He looks at Mia. "I never saw the city in its early years however." He nods slowly at the mention. "Ah, I see. So who do you think was responsible? You have a theory I assume?"


Oh, he could not have asked a better or more pointed question of Mia. There's a spark of life in those dark, inscrutible eyes. "I have my own ideas, yes," she says slowly, almost slyly. Running a tongue over her lips, the woman takes on an entirely different attitude. It's as if a totally different person stands in front of the vampire. "Who doesn't?" A shrug. "Do I think Oswald was responsible? — that would be a decided no. Do I think he knew what was going down? Yes. Oh, yes."

The camera is turned off, dropped into her purse. There aren't as many other people here now, since the evening's getting on. "First off, the Warren Commission's conclusions? — bullshit. Total and complete bullshit. The second congressional committee's conclusion that there might've been a conspiracy?" She gives him a "duh" look, saying, "Ya think?"

Shaking her head, Mia is more animated than she has been all evening. Gone is the cool, unemotional Japanese woman; in her place, an avid conspiracy theorist. "If you ask me, I think it was a combination of several interested parties who all got together and decided it should happen. I don't even rule out Johnson's supporters. LBJ always said he'd be in the White House, and if he said that to the right kind of person —" She shrugs, leaving the rest unsaid.


Nodding, Michael doesn't lose his cool. He's no more animated than he has been all evening. He does, however, listen intently. "If I'm being honest, I had … matters closer to home to occupy my attention at the time. Assassinations tend only to be a very small point in something much larger. But, in truth, I've given it little thought. I suspect the intent was to leave evidence, a tangle which could never be traced back to anyone. They had Oswald to hint at the Soviet Union, yet, if such were the case, why was it someone affiliated with the mob who killed him? If the Mafia was behind it, they'd have had him killed less … overtly." He smiles very faintly. "Sometimes the best way to avoid being caught is to put so many different prints on the crime scene they can get nothing final."


"Murder on the Orient Express," Mia says, nodding. "Everyone stabbed the man. Each and every person had a hand in killing the victim, so, in truth, they were all guilty, but no one could be singled out as the murderer. Poirot had to let them all go in the end." She seems rather proud of her analogy.

"If you want to take it one step further, Caesar. Was Brutus the lone assassin? Or were all the others who wanted great Caesar dead equally to blame for his murder? History says Brutus acted alone, just as History says Oswald was Kennedy's assassin. In the end, the results are the same — an empire sent spiraling out of control into a direction it would not have gone had those men lived."

Mia shifts position, moving to a smaller granite block, sitting atop it. "Kennedy would've done everything he could to keep us out of Southeast Asia, but Johnson was a known advocate of escalation. The world would be a different place, but for the actions of two 'lone assassins.'"


With a slow and somewhat thoughtful nod. "The assassination of Caesar was always a conspiracy, the writings of Plutarch claim Cimber and Casca made the first move against Caesar. Of course it could be there's been more evidence since I last researched the matter. It hasn't been an interest of mine in many years." He seems to give thought to the matter of the whole situation. "The trouble is that there are many times when you stand on the brink of world changing moments. Sometimes it's hard to know what will make the better future. Brutus believed Caesar had been corrupted by his power."


"As many believed of JFK, even some of his best friends and family members. There are many similarities between Kennedy and Caesar — as there are similarities between Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. I've read extensively on the latter, considering where I work. There were a great many things which linked the two men — issues of race, civil rights, war, opposition in congress, things like that. Not to mention they both had Vice Presidents named Johnson. It's interesting reading."

Mis seems perfectly in her element, now. "I admit I enjoy a bit of conspiracy theorizing, now and then." A bit? More like she's obsessed with it! "But it's been awhile since I studied the Roman Empire. I concentrated my studies on American History, particularly the post-WWII years. The 'Camelot Era,' as some called the Kennedy White House years. Odd, though. It does appear the Kennedy family is prone to … tragedy."

She looks thoughtful again. "Do you suppose there really is a curse on the Kennedys? I mean first Joe, Jr., then JFK, then Robert, then JFK, Jr. were killed. And that's only the boys. We won't even get into the girls and what happened to them."


Michael seems once more amused. "My study of history was mostly on the Roman Empire, although I branched out somewhat later, when I had more contact with the world beyond Europe. American history happened around me, which in many ways gives me a less objective view than those that look back on it." He nods slowly, seeming to consider the last question. "I think there's a combination of bad luck and powerful enemies, that is what most curses boil down to in my experience." He nods his head. "If you will excuse me however I have to be going, perhaps I'll meet you again some time and we can discuss the theories some more?"


"Bad luck and good enemies," Mia says, voice lowering as the implications of that deadly combination penetrates. "Not something I'd enjoy for certain. Then again, I suppose any one with power acquires more enemies than friends — if you can tell the difference. Friends sometimes turn out to be the ones to watch."

With Michael's regrets, Mia nods, getting down from her perch. "It's been very enjoyable, yes. I'd very much like to continue the conversation at some point — particularly since you are a student of History as am I."

Giving the vampire a formal bow, she adds, "I am Mia Nakamura, Deputy Curator of the Sixth Floor Museum. If you have not yet visited, I issue an invitation. It has been an honor to make your acquaintance."


Offering a slightly deeper nod of his head Michael speaks in a more formal tone. "Michael Isonzo, and I may take you up on that offer — although I'm afraid the hours aren't very suitable at this time of the year. Perhaps when the days are shorter." With that, Michael turns and simply seems to disappear, becoming little more than a blur.


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