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Scott Joplin's Legacy

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Scottjoplin

Scott Joplin in his earlier days

As a laid-off worker at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, I had many memories to go over, the times with the patients, cleaning the cafeteria, and most of all, exploring the old halls that have been forgotten, one wing, 'wing C' was home to the famous celebrities who went insane, most commonly syphilis. Some people like Mabel Boll (also known as the "queen of hearts") and Wilhelm Steinitz walked down those very halls every day, oh the history lessons that could be taught from such a deranged place as so, but one person stuck out. Scott Joplin, now, you probably haven't heard of him, but you most likely have heard his music once in your lifetime, I know I have, and it's stayed in my head, the sweeping jazz melodies, the slow, bitter rags of his latter years, and the one song which was my favorite, the Maple Leaf Rag.

Now, you've probably never heard of this, but its fast tempo and steady pace introduced me to an amazing new branch of music to enjoy, I put it on my iPod, set it on repeat, and swept the halls of that place. On one such occasion though, I felt an ominous presence coming from Room 3 in Hall C, that cold feeling that turns you pale just thinking about it. I shrugged it off and kept sweeping. Since no-one was there, I took out the headphones and plugged the iPod into a dock so I could hear it down the hall, but once I passed Room 3, things turned strange for me. I swore I heard "I remember the good days when I could play that fast." But then again, it could have just been one of the insane people's muffled screams that happen oh-so-common in a place like this, but it sounded like it was right in front of me.

So I checked Room 3, and the bedsheets had been moved, as if somebody got out of it. Then, I heard something right behind me. It was a person, older than me, and he said, "Strange isn't it."

I replied with a simple "Well sir, what's so strange?"

He replied, "As the days go on, the people here seem to get crazier than I was all those years ago."

I rubbernecked around and before my eyes was the figure of him, Scott Joplin before my eyes, though I can't really say, 'in the flesh'. I don't know what he was made up of. He continued his speech, "It's sad how these people have never had a talent before they wound up here, well, then again, with nothing but beds and a cafeteria...what's the use of having a talent, you can't use it here."

I asked the figure if he was just pretending to be Scott, and that it wasn't just some costume, then he said, "I'll prove it."

All of the sudden, he led me to his room, and what I saw could not have been real. A piano was already in his room, and he began to play it. He started out The Entertainer, one of his most famous pieces, and I instantly knew it was him. Just the way the song was played, the fast movements of his left hand caused me to recognize the tune instantly. So I said, "It really is you! But how can it be you if you died over 90 years ago?"

He said back, "It's in the soul, as long as your life will live on, your soul will remain on this Earth."

"What about all of the forgotten ones, who hadn't made a great enough impact on this earth to be remembered?"

"Well, they go on, they go to wherever they believed they would go."

I asked, "Do you enjoy it here?"

He obviously replied no, but he said you're always where you finally rested until you pass on, so people like John Kennedy will walk Elm Street until people find other things to remember, and that he'll pass on when people find other music that entertains them. I pondered, and thought, does this apply to everyone? He said yes, and that everyone on earth, even me. He walked back into his room, closed the door, and that was the last time I had ever seen him.

The meeting with Scott stayed with me up until today, when I packed my bags and headed out the door of the asylum, laid off due to congress's recent budget cuts. It then hit me, if you could measure your impact in time, How would that impact you? I mean, the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of soldiers killed, and only to roam the battlefields as long as their comrades mourned for them, which wouldn't be long until reports of that man's next friend dying, and him moving on. There is Abraham Lincoln, leader of the north and the United States for five years, whom has been roaming Ford Theater for over one hundred and fifty years.

This brought the talk back to me. I thought, what have I done? I dropped out of high school, the only people who knew me are either states out or gone, and I'm unemployed. I've made no impact at all towards this planet, and where does that leave me? if I died tomorrow for some reason, how long will people remember me for? Days? Hours? Maybe even minutes. So, as I leave this page, I feel it is my need to make something for people, to try to help people in need so after I'm gone, people will say, I remember that guy, he helped put clothes on my back, and get my life back on track. And I will be there to watch and protect those who remembered me. Now in closing, I want you to think of your relatives who are now gone. Hopefully nobody's negligence let them pass on to their final destination, and they'll protect you as I will.

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