Why are you so broke?

Comedy scene from one-act splay, “Half of Nothing” Willard shows up at Ralph’s apartment in order to collect money owed to him.

Willard enters the apartment slowly, leaving the front door open. He surveys the place, then looks at Ralph.

WILLARD (softly): Give me something.

RALPH: I told you, I’m broke.

WILLARD: Broke means you’re surviving. In order to survive, you must have a few dollars laying around. Give me half. I’d rather have something, than nothing.

RALPH: I can’t give you half of nothing!

WILLARD: You cheap b’stard, give me something!

RALPH: Close the door if you wanna shout, there’s f’cking neighbors. They already hate me as it is.

Willard slams the door.

WILLARD: Smells like piss and vinegar in here.

RALPH: Socks.


RALPH: My socks, I sweat more in the winter, the way my body functions, sort of a built in rescue heater for when it gets cold. When I take off my shoes, my socks are drenched. They’re hanging over the heater.

WILLARD: Open a window.

RALPH: Can’t. Place comes with no windows.

WILLARD: Isn’t that illegal?

RALPH: Saves on rent. I can offer you coffee.

Willard nods regretfully and sits.

Ralph makes coffee at the kitchen counter.

WILLARD: Why are you so broke? You work at the diner and have a side hustle. Explain.

RALPH: Sh’t adds up. You see what it’s like out there. Look at you.

WILLARD: Me? Look at me? What am I the film poster for the movie, “Broke”? That what you’re sayin’?

Ralph hands Willard coffee.

RALPH: I have a few stale Stella D’oro cookies left. You want?


Ralph hands plastic cookie tray to Willard.

RALPH: Eat ’em all.

WILLARD: Thanks. (beat) I’m in a bad spot, Ralph.

RALPH: Aren’t we all?

WILLARD: Me! Me! Let’s talk about ME! I know the economy is sh’t, alright? I know you’re broke, but I’m f’cked.

RALPH: Why are you –

WILLARD: I’ve been fired, and I’m being evicted. What do you want me to say?

RALPH: Double whammy.

WILLARD: Both ears.

RALPH: The few bucks I owe you isn’t going to pay your rent, Willy.

WILLARD: It will get me a few bagels, some hot ramen, I got a craving for some good ramen. It’ll cover water, coffee, a pack of smokes, some bus fares when I can’t walk — storms are approaching —it’ll give me TIME.

RALPH: I don’t have it.

WILLARD: What do you have?

RALPH: Coffee and those stale cookies you’re eating.

WILLARD: How are you keeping the lights on?

RALPH: I’m all paid up till the end of the month. After that, I don’t know what will happen.

WILLARD: What do you mean you don’t know?

RALPH: How will I keep paying…


RALPH: Side hustle isn’t working out. The working hours at the diner keeps shrinking. What was once a forty-hour week has been reduced to a mere two days, if I’m lucky. They’re taking on the migrants, who’ll work longer, for less pay. So, eh, what can I do? There’s that…

WILLARD: You serious?

RALPH: Oh yeah.

WILLARD: What will you do?

RALPH: I don’t know, but I’m not stressing, ’cause what can I do?

WILLARD: I’m gonna talk to Sheila, see if she can use me.

RALPH: You’re gonna sell your a**?

WILLARD: I gotta do something.

RALPH: I thought you moved on from all that.

WILLARD: I’m desperate.

RALPH: Not Sheila, please.

WILLARD: She’s not that bad.

RALPH: She’s worse.

WILLARD: She pays well, so –

RALPH: But then she’ll latch on to you all over again. Is that what you want?

WILLARD: I need money.

RALPH: Wouldn’t be me.

WILLARD: We’ll see when your lights go out.

RALPH: Sheila couldn’t pay me enough.

WILLARD: You’re not her type, anyway.

RALPH: Good.

WILLARD: Can I borrow that cowboy hat?


WILLARD: I’ll bring it back.

Willard gets up and grabs the cowboy hat. Willard places the cowboy hat on his head.

RALPH: What do you –

WILLARD: Sheila’s got a thing for cowboys. (he looks at himself in a full length mirror) You owe me money, you pr’ck. Let me at least borrow.

RALPH: Twenty bucks for the rental. Five dollars a day till it’s returned.

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

Half of Nothing by Joseph ArnoneIn the one-act eplay, “Half of Nothing” Willard shows up at Ralph’s apartment demanding he gets paid back the money owed him.  The problem is Ralph is broke.  The two friends engage in a discussion going over their troubles and possible future solutions.  2 Men. Serio-comedy.

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Joseph Arnone