Age of Bliss

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to people, alive or dead, are coincidental.

This work contains adult themes and is not intended for children.

Chapter 18

The Wagon Wheel remained an extra special place for Martha and Jordan until it was torn down in 1981. It was there that they talked about how much they liked the new president. His contract was not renewed in 1977. The best our couple could reason, the new president had been too supportive of standards and the faculty. The next president catered to the alumni, both present and future and appeared as entrenched as Mason had been.

Minz did not retire until after the Wheel was razed. When she retired, despite Martha's urging, Russ Foster did not apply for the job. Neither did Martha. She did consider it, but decided she was not, as yet, anyway, enough of a political person. Fortunately, Pete Carter was no longer at Bliss, having accepted another position in 1978. The department was able to recruit Minz's replacement from outside Bliss' ranks. Martha headed that search. With a quality department chair, the new administration did not adversely affect their daily lives.

Jordan received increasing notoriety after Mason's demise. Martha enjoyed Jordan's success, and had some of her own. Of course, Martha's academic publications did not generate the publicity of Jordan's music. Still, Martha felt satisfaction in her scholarship. The couple was happy together and their lifestyle was not discussed openly.

They both were saddened with the demise of the Wheel. The fast food establishment which replaced it was designed to prevent interaction. There, Martha could not have the discussions with students which she had come to enjoy.

She had felt close to many of the students over the years and still tracked their careers. Yet, none compared with Markus Mathews. His success had been easy to follow. He was a reporter for a local TV station when the fast food place was built. Then, he moved to a D.C. station. During the '88 elections, he covered the vice presidential race for one of the networks. The next year, he returned to anchor the affiliate's local news.

Mary's career as a print journalist had paralleled Markus' in television, as best Martha could determine. Mary's book on the '88 campaign had sold reasonably well, although it was poorly promoted. Mary never even appeared on the local talk shows.

Martha had followed their careers, but there was no contact with either of them. The last she had seen them was when they, together, turned in their final exams, said goodbyes to their classmates and departed. Perhaps that is why the voice jarred her so. It was so much Markus' voice, "Dr. Knight."

She looked up from her desk and there he stood, looking very much the way he did twenty years before. Perhaps he even looks younger, she thought. "I'm Mark Mathews. Markus Mathews, Jr."

"Oh, yes. There is a family resemblance."

"You're exactly as I pictured you. Mother told me so much about you that I feel like I've known you all of my life."

"Really? Well, have a seat. And how is your mother?"

"Oh, I just assumed you knew. Mother died in '90, soon after we moved back here."

"I'm sorry to hear that. How'd it happen?"

"Cancer. She was always such an energetic person, we just assumed she would live forever. The cancer had spread through her system before we knew it."

"How sad."

"Yes, but we survived. Of course, my sisters and I were teenagers, and fairly mature for our ages."

"And your dad?"

"Truthfully, it hit him harder than I thought it would. He and Mother seemed to live separate lives. I actually thought for a time, based on some things Mother told me in her last months, that he brought us back here so he could be near you after Mother died. Now, I understand it was the only way he could look after us children."

Martha smiled in reflecting back. "Your father and I were very close. Closer than ...."

"In love even?"

"In love even! But, it was not a physical-type love. It was a love of mutual respect for each other based on our regard for ideas and our search for truth. He never spoke of me?"

"All he ever said was that you were the best teacher he ever had."

"How nice. But, he was my teacher also. I learned from him the most valuable lesson of my life."

"Really? And what was that?"

"Well, if I have to put it into words, it's that no matter how authoritative society's voice might sound, we still have a responsibility to respond when our personal voice tells us society is wrong. We must act to be true to ourselves and to be a model for others."

"Yes, that sounds like my pop."

"What brings you to Bliss?"

"Mother always wanted me to come to school here. So, I felt I owed it to her at least to apply and look the place over."

"So, you're coming to school here?"

"No. I've decided on State. They have given me a scholarship which will pay all my expenses. This is a lovely campus, though. I'm just a hustle and bustle type person. The atmosphere at State suits me. But, I'm really glad to get to meet you."

Martha rose as the young Markus walked to the door. Somehow she felt a sense of closure. She walked to the window and looked out at the beautiful spring day. There walking away were father and son.

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