Character: Teddy Curtis
Author: Amy
Universe: Other AU
Word count: 1,266

“I mean, you are your own worst enemy, right?”
I shrugged.
Alonzo threw his boots onto the kitchen table and shrugged his massive shoulders. It was cold in the kitchen, despite the layers of clothing we both wore. I was swimming in the sweatshirt he’d loaned me, able to hook it over my fingers and keep the digits from freezing off. My jeans had holes in them, but luckily I wore a pair of long johns on underneath and while the black looked strange in place of pale skin, it kept me warm during those long, cold New York nights.
I didn’t know where else to go but Alonzo’s. When in doubt, call Al. That was the motto after all. He seemed to be able to fix anything and everything that needed fixing. And I needed a place to crash anyway, seeing how Rebecca had locked me out of the apartment for the fourth time that month. I didn’t tell Alonzo that, though. He’d say the same thing everyone else did when they heard; Break up with the bitch already. It wasn’t as easy as that, though, but that’s just life, you know?
“No, it’s true,” Alonzo said, pulling out a beer from the six pack he’d placed on the table, gesturing for me to take one. I did and cracked the tap, slurping the foam as it spilled from the opening. Nothing went better with a cold night than a cold beer except maybe frost bite and a flat tire. As much as I’d rather warm cider, I wasn’t about to turn down free beer. It’s free beer. No one turns down free beer. Alonzo looked like he wanted me to say something, but I couldn’t think of a way to respond.

“What do you mean?” I finally asked, sipping on the Bud.
Alonzo pondered himself for a minute, rubbing a hand over his head and then tugging on one of his giant earlobes. Back when I’d first met him, a giant diamond earring had been studded into the cartilage there. Not anymore, though, but it left a little tiny puckered hole in his ebony colored skin.
“I mean who doesn’t hate themselves right?” Alonzo continued, sipping his beer with narrowed eyes that shined with wisdom only his age could provide him. I stared, with the beer can up to my lips, the cold metal making my skin tingle as my tongue pressed against my teeth. I had nothing to say to that. I hated myself. I didn’t think Alonzo did, but you never really know a person.
Alonzo is a good guy. Even if he did run with all of us back in the day. Even if he was one of the founding fathers of our Brotherhood back in the day. One of the original brothers, he and Michael for whatever reasons. Maybe money, maybe loneliness; a need to share kinship with people alike. Alonzo was a good guy, though. He stole like the rest of us, he did the occasional line of coke and had more than a few hookers before he settled down and got himself a good wife with a pretty smile and a warm heart. I was sure there was blood underneath Alonzo’s fingernails just like there was blood underneath all our fingernails whether it from murder or just a pure ass kicking that someone somewhere deserved. But overall, Alonzo was one of the best men I knew. A clean, friendly guy who never turned down raggedy teenagers freezing in the cold on their door step even if they had a wife and kids upstairs who probably shouldn’t associate with people like me.
People like me who still steal and do the occasional line of coke and always have a bit of blood on them somewhere.
“So you hate yourself?” I asked, resting my can of beer against my thigh and staring at him with sad eyes.
“Course I fucking do.” Alonzo said with serious, fiery eyes.
I shook my head and asked, “Why?”
He took a deep breath in and then blew it out through clenched teeth. His eyes scanned the walls of his kitchen. Alonzo had a nice house now. A small one, but still two stories and in a pretty nice neighborhood considering the projects that he’d crawled out of. It was still only a little North of Southie, where we’d all spent our time fucking our lives up together. His kitchen was fairly small just like the house. Hardly enough room to make an egg, but it expanded into this big eating area where a real oak table sat. It looked real taken care of and I could only just picture Alonzo, Darlabell and his two children sitting there eating together like a real family. Like all the brothers used to.
The walls were a fading yellow color and the ceiling had water marks, but it was clean enough to eat off the ground and the sliding screen door showed a minuscule yard in the back that I could barely make out past the darkness.
But Alonzo didn’t seem to be finding such nice things in the kitchen that I was finding. Maybe he was seeing something else. Maybe he was looking at all the nice things he had now and realizing he probably didn’t deserve them for the things he’d done in the past. That was subjective of course. I’d argue to my last breath that every one of us deserved something. All of us had tragedies to make people’s eyes sting with tears, but none of us were as good as Alonzo was and if we all deserved something, he deserved the best. But I could tell by those sad, yet feverish eyes that he didn’t think so.
“It’s just human nature, brother,” Alonzo said. He held my gaze for a moment, then looked at his beer. “It’s just human nature. To hate. It’s a base emotion, you feel? Happiness, sadness, anger. Love. Hate.” Alonzo shook his head and took another sip of his beer. “And when you’ve exhausted yourself hating every single thing around you there just ain’t nothing else to hate but yourself. And you wake up everyday lookin’ in the mirror and you think who am I?” He touched his chin with his fingers as though remembering doing that exact thing earlier that day. “You beat yourself up over the small things and the big things. You hope to God your little ones don’t take after you, but you feel that hopeless sinking feeling that they might because this is a shit world, Teddy and hey, you listening? It’s a shit world and it’s only getting shittier.” He took another sip of his beer and leaned back in his chair.
“That’s a pessimistic outlook on life, Al,” I said with a wry smile that he returned with much bitterness.
“It’s cold out there, brother. It’s cold,” he whispered, instilling old knowledge into me. He pulled his boots from the top of the table. They clunked onto the ground loudly as he leaned forward and knocked his beer can against mine. “You find me one person that don’t hate themselves,” he said. “One person.”
I thought for a moment about all the people I knew in my life. Even the cockiest bastards seemed to catch sight of themselves in a mirror and cringe a bit.
“It’s a new era,” I said with another grin. Alonzo shook his head.
“Hate is never new, Teddy. It is the oldest creature on Earth. Older than you, older than me; and it’ll outlive both of us.”