Terminal Bend

Patricia Mayer

"Mayer's is a captivating and new voice in Alabama and Southern fiction."       --William Cobb, author of A Spring of Souls


In this novel, the narrator assigns every person in her memory to a certain month—and Miss Melba’s memory holds not just twelve, but twelve-squared characters, along with that many more laughs and sobs. Set in a railroad town in south Alabama, this novel carries us through a good deal of the last century, from post World War I boom to The Great Depression, from the shame of the Japanese internment camps to the exultation of V-E and V-J days, from the shame of racism to the pleasure of friendships that overcame that same racism. The characters flow as effortlessly as do the months and the shifts of seasons, and Miss Melba draws these characters so lovingly that we almost feel sorry for even the villains, as her brother Earl comments upon watching Sheriff Simon find what he thinks to be the remains of his beloved dog, skinned. And being somewhat of a villain himself, Brother Earl surprises us with even this momentary compassion. But then, that’s Miss Melba’s final point: we’re all in this show together, for we all live in Terminal Bend.

ISBN 0-942979-73-7, Trade paper, $12.95                          Sale $6.50

ISBN 0-942979-74-5, Library binding, $26.00                      Sale $13.00

256 pages

About the Author: 

Patricia Mayer is a registered nurse who interned at Chattahoochee Hospital for Criminally Insane in north Florida. She now works at a parochial school in Mobile—a much safer and calmer job, she says.

 Excerpt From the Book:

    If you drove through the patched and rutted streets of Terminal Bend, Alabama, you wouldn't see what I see because I’m looking through the eyes of living seventy-two years in the same place. All you’d see is a seedy town with the questionable distinction of having the most murders in the state, but I remember when “drive-by” was what we did when we went to see the live Nativity scene out in front of the Methodist Church. I’ve come to understand the strata of change. I know that there are layers of history below the line of vision.
    Terminal Bend got its name because it’s the place where trains from Pensacola to the east and New Orleans to the west turn north toward the cold cities we’ve only heard about. South Alabama is warm most of the time. For our children, snow exists only in the scenes on Christmas cards. Lulled by a compliant climate, they are unaccustomed to the erratic nature of change.     
     In the spring of the year when azaleas bloom, I always remember two people. One is my brother, Bink. The other is T-Coyote. Now, where Bink is concerned, I would have to quote my older brother, Earl, a true visionary, when he remarked to me, “Melba, far as I can tell, I got two sisters—you and Bink.”
          When Bink overheard this, he started bawling. His ears turned the color of azaleas and that’s why I’m always reminded of Bink in the spring. I remember the tragedy of T-Coyote for reasons that run a lot deeper. To tell you about T-Coyote, I have to go down a few layers to the end of World War One, which was “the war to end all wars,” only it wasn’t, and we had to start numbering them. Terminal Bend was…