How would you know what I am or what I’m not?

Drama scene for two characters taken from the 1 act play script, “Steady Steel Blues” about an incident that happened on the side of a road.

HERSCHEL: When was it? Nineteen-seventies, I think…I read an article then about the nineteen-fifties, about the ongoings of that time, but then I realized that all I was actually being fed was whatever the cook was making up. Sure, there were things I believed were genuine, but what gets embellished? What didn’t exist? What I’m saying, right, is that I wasn’t there; I didn’t breathe in the air of the time, taste the food, verbalize inside the vocabulary being used, and so on. We are all given impressions of yesteryear, trying to fill our imaginations with what was real then based on what we know is real now in our present-day lives. So, in short, we will never know the true past, and that saddens me some. Really, it does.

HARLA: Herschel?

HERSHEL: What is it?

HARLA: Why’d you kill that man on the side of the road today?


HARLA: That man..on the side of the road.

HERSCHEL: Why’d you ask me a question like that?


HERSCHEL: Yes, we needn’t get into that.

HARLA: I’m asking you a direct question.

HERSCHEL: And I’m giving you a direct answer.

HARLA: That ain’t no answer.

HERSCHEL: Aren’t we having a nice time out here in the desert?

HARLA: We’re having the most beautiful time.

HERSCHEL: Alright then.

HARLA: But you shot him twice in the head.

HERSCHEL: I know I did.

HARLA: Why’d you do it?

HERSCHEL: You gonna ruin the night we having.

HARLA: I deserve an answer.

HERSCHEL: Why’s that, darling?

HARLA: Cause I saw what you did!

HERSCHEL: Easy now.

HARLA: That man was on his knees. All you had to do was walk away. Why didn’t you walk away?

HERSCHEL: Why were you watching?

HARLA: I was there sitting in the passenger seat facing ya’ll. What you expect me to do?

HERSCHEL: Close your eyes.

HARLA: But I didn’t know you was gonna do what you did, Herschel.

HERSCHEL: Neither did I.


…I could tell from the way he was looking at me that he wasn’t no normal chap. He was studying me–his steady steel blues. Trained. (beat) That man was gonna kill me. He wasn’t nervous, either. Maybe not there and then, but eventually, eventually, he was gonna catch up with me. I struck him down before he realized whatever he was dreaming up in his mind. I got to him first. You follow? That son of a b’tch was a stone–cold killer, and his eyes didn’t lie. I didn’t wanna shoot him. I didn’t wanna kill him, but I had to. Weren’t by choice, but by necessity. It was necessary as all hell to put that man in the shadows. That fella was an all–consuming darkness, ya hear? I feared him; therefore, I killed him; to protect you, to protect my own damn self.

HARLA: But he looked so helpless.

HERSCHEL: In that very moment in time, he was.

HARLA: It don’t sit well with me.

HERSCHEL: Well, it don’t sit none too well with me, either. Don’t you see I had a choice to make? Go through the remainder of my life always looking over my shoulder, or give myself free right of passage?

HARLA: All for a lousy two hundred dollars.

HERSCHEL: We didn’t know.

HARLA: You took that man’s life for two hundred dollars, Herschel.

HERSCHEL: I wish we hadn’t pulled over. You were the one who kept on it.


HERSCHEL: You was the one who told me to pull over and rob ’em. So I did.

HARLA: Rob him, not kill him.

HERSCHEL: It was your bright idea.

HARLA: To rob him!

HERSCHEL: Things turned out –

HARLA: I only wanted lunch.

HERSCHEL: You couldn’t wait!

HARLA: I was hungry.

HERSCHEL: I told you we were gonna stop over at Dean’s place by nightfall.

HARLA: We hadn’t eaten anything in two days time.

HERSCHEL: Yeah, yeah I know it.

HARLA: I was getting dizzy spells.

HERSCHEL: So was I, but not eating isn’t what made me do what I did. I don’t like making excuses.

HARLA: You seem so unfazed by it.

HERSCHEL: How would you know what I am or what I’m not?

HARLA: You seem to be the same to me.


HARLA: Yeah; like nothing happened.

HERSCHEL: Best we put these sorts of things out of our minds.

HARLA: I can’t unsee what I saw.


HARLA: It’s like a permanent stain.

HERSCHEL: Well, find something to wipe it away!

  • To read the full one-act ePlay, find purchase link below:

Steady Steel Blues by Joseph ArnoneIn the one act eplay, “Steady Steel Blues” Harla and Herschel are traveling thieves who get in over their head when Herschel commits a crime far beyond what they ever imagined possible.  1 Woman, 1 Man. Drama. Crime Drama.

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Joseph Arnone