Memoir: The Toast

Corrdry’s wasn’t just a bar. It was the bar. The Sondray family’s children each had their first beers bought there, and it was decided long ago that the Sondray grandchildren would have their first beers at Corrdry’s as well.

The street-side bar, complete with patio seating to overlook Lomadia beach’s white sand, was a mess of neon lights and sawdust on the hardwood floors. Pyramid paraphernalia lined the walls, and where the lightly colored wood wasn’t covered with some piece of kitsch, a favorite past-timed bar game was locked firmly in place.

“So this asshole right here looks over to me and shrugs, and tells me that maybe we should fire a warning shot or something.” Troyle Dixon waved his beer in the air, pointing towards the form of Ciro Sondray seated atop a tall barstool. Troyle was telling another Ciro story, something that the rest of Ciro’s family, seated around the table, was relishing. Something about his disheveled hair and his beady eyes always gave his stories a little extra kick. “We’re in the trees trying our best to not make a move and the two monkeys just keep going to town, and when I say going to town I’m not talking some sort of consensual, romantic sex. I’m pretty sure I heard the girl monkey tell the guy to pull her hair.”

“Oh man it was the worst, too, because this patrol came by and they were pointing at the monkeys and we couldn’t move. I’m there in my ghillie suit and they’re practically on top of me.” Ciro throws in, shaking his head from side to side. His cheeks are red as he finds himself the target of another of Dixon’s embarrassing stories. Vanessa Dannika, his long-time girlfriend, had one arm dangling over his shoulder and her free hand death-gripped around the neck of a beer bottle while she laughed with the rest of the table. Both she and Ciro were wearing their regulation green off-duty tank tops, but she’d opted again to substitute a bra for the red string bikini that she’d worn earlier that day at the beach.

“And if you think for one moment that it wasn’t taking long, you’re wrong.” Troyle continues, pausing only to take a long pull from the bottle in his hands. “This monkey must have been the king of the jungle, because that chick-monkey started doing her best to try to get away. Clearly she was done but the guy just kept hanging on.”

“What, you didn’t move at that point? Poor monkey.” A dark brown haired girl at the end of the table complained. She was Ciro’s younger sister, Kyle, and it was her first year of drinking. Clad in a short, black skirt that flowed as she moved and a comfortable green tank top, she leaned over and gave Troyle a shove at the shoulder. “When a girl says no, she means it.”

“Not all the time. Let’s be honest.” Vanessa returns, reaching to the back of her neck to brush down her ponytail. Her cheeks turn red, and she takes a long pull from her beer as an excuse to turn away from the table.

Ciro brought the palm of his hand to his eye as his sister reached into a bowl of peanuts on the table. Coming up with a handful, she throws them at Vanessa, pelting the young couple with food.

“What are you doing to my brother you witch! You keep your damn hands off of…augh!” Kyle half-laughed as she yelled at Vanessa, throwing another handful of peanuts in their direction while both Troyle and Ciro’s father, Tripp, did their best to keep the peanuts out of the pitcher of beer on the table. “I can’t hear these things, this is the same gross boy that used to chase me around the house with boogers on his hands.”

“…and that was only last year.” Troyle pointed out, tilting the open mouth of his beer bottle in Ciro’s direction.

“Oh was it now? Tripp, thank you for delivering this genuine keeper to me.” Vanessa said sarcastically, turning to give Kyle a mock glare that ends with a sly wink of her eye. “I was a little iffy about him for a while, but now that I’ve got that image of Ciro chasing around with boogers on his hands I might have to drag this stud off to the car…” She ducked, and the next incoming round of peanuts sprayed across the wall violently to the sound of two women giggling.

“I seem to remember you giving him your fair share of terror as well, Kyle.” Tripp finally steps in, his hand scratching over the front of his Canceron Cyclones tee-shirt. He pointed his cigarette at his youngest daughter, calling her out on the carpet. “Your mother must have told me three or four times that you’d shaved off Ciro’s eyebrows, and despite the fact you got in trouble for it you two were at war every summer.”

“OH! The wire prank!” Kyle waved her hand in front of her nose, doing her best to not spit beer everywhere. Swallowing, she set her glass down on the table.

“I’ve got to hear this shit.” Troyle muttered sidelong to Vanessa.

“Yep, it's too late now." Vanessa replied, peeling herself from Ciro’s back to adjust her seating on the tall bar stool. Her eyes lit up with interest.

“I waxed the tile in the kitchen and put a wire across the front of the entryway. He totally thought it was a tripwire, but when he stepped over it his leg came out from under him and he did the splits. None of us knew he sang falsetto.” Kyle said proudly, saluting Ciro with her glass of beer as she ended the story with a large guzzle.

“Your sister…is ruthless.” Troyle shook his head, setting down the empty bottle of beer. He reached for one of the empty glasses, turned it over, and then started pouring the contents of the pitcher. “The worst my own sister ever got on me was I woke up with her makeup all over my face. I looked like a damn clown. Shaved eyebrows, though? No wonder you enlisted.”

“Oh, you guys don’t know the half of it.” Vanessa interjected. “Guys might always think that they’re the roughest thing out there but they can’t hold a candle to some of the shit that girls do to each other. It’s like a never-ending cold war. All of the fighting over boys in high school, the dirty looks, and the sabotage? Girls are downright mean-spirited creatures.” She downed the last of her beer, turning to plant a kiss on Ciro’s cheek. “This girl once cut off my pony tail a week before a dance at school because the boy she wanted to go with asked me instead.”

“Oh they weren’t that bad, aside from the eyebrows.” Tripp offered, bringing his cigarette to his lips. He took a long drag and exhaled the smoke towards the patio behind them. “All in all, though, they were good kids. They did what their mother told them to, and I never really had to come home to hand out the law.” He paused and spun his vision around the table with a nostalgic look in his eye. “I’ll say though, it’s good to have you all out here and get out to watch the game, get a few beers in with you, son. I’ve been waiting for this for a while, and the two of you…” He pointed to Troyle and Vanessa. “…you’ve been keeping him out of trouble. I don’t have the money to feed his hungry ass any longer so while he’s out of my sight you’d best continue keeping an eye on him.”

“Hear, hear.” Troyle murmured, lifting his fresh glass of beer toward the center of the table as Tripp Sondray began one of his famous toasts. The rest of the table followed in suit, pressing their glasses together.

“This is our week. We’re going to hit the beach. We’re going to grill food. We’re going to be family.” He glanced to Vanessa and Troyle specifically, having known them for years. “So for the Sondray clan present and the extended Sondray clan, I say this. Drink your frakkin’ beer and know that you’ll be welcome always. So say we all.”

The crowd around the table crashed their glasses together among a distorted series of well wishes and agreements. Each of them brought their glass to their lips and drank heavily, getting through as much of their glass as possible. Troyle’s glass slammed down first, and in this memory of Ciro’s, everything began to fade gray shortly thereafter…done under by the weight of the brew they drank.

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