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By: Shen Wu Tan

I lived in the South for 17 years before moving to Mango Street. My father owned a music store in Tennessee when I was a young boy. And my mother stayed at home, tending to the other children and cleaning the house.

I used to help my father repair old records and jukeboxes before his business shut down.

Shortly afterwards, our house foreclosed.

I joined the military after high school since neither my parents nor I could afford to pay for a secondary education.

The memories of bloodshed have tainted my mind. The sounds of gunshots firing still ring in my ears. Sleep eludes me, for my mind fears the recurring nightmares.

I started smoking heavily when I was in the military. It helped relieve my stress.

Listening to country and western music helped calm my nerves, too.

After my discharge, I packed my things and moved into Edna’s basement on Mango Street. With hardly any change in my pocket, Edna rented the apartment out to me for little to nothing.

I started working night shifts at a local music store as a repairman and collected forgotten, recycled records.

I sometimes give away records to the neighborhood kids – all except the country and western ones, of course.

I met Susan at the store. She came in looking for records by Jimi Hendrix. She lost her husband in the war.

After six months, I got sick of living in the moldy basement by myself.

The next day, I paid a visit to the pet store and adopted two little black dogs. Their names are Scottie and Dobby. They follow me everywhere.

A few times a month, Susan visits the apartment. We are driven together by our mutual need for sexual gratification.

Sex is a means of escapism for us.

Susan never stays long. After she leaves, I remember who I am.

I am someone who is living alone in a basement that smells of mildew. I am someone who seeks solace in music. I am someone who is haunted by Death itself. I am the Earl of Tennessee.

Earl of Tennessee Multimodal Narrative