Ways
Ravi Mangla

 

There are three ways we can do this, he says to me. I elect for the second way, immediately, before he’s had time to explain any of the ways. Are you sure? he asks. I tell him I am sure. He says I ought to have selected the third way. I tell him I am quite smitten with the second way, thank you very much, and it would be difficult to change my mind at this point in time. He says he made the second way up, that there are only two ways of doing this. I inquire about the first way. He lists the supplies and materials that the first way would require, and the cost of those supplies and materials. I tell him I was only asking about the first way; I still want the second way, of this I am absolutely certain. He sighs, removes his glasses, kneads his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. Can I meet him halfway, he wants to know. Halfway to where? I ask, becoming impatient with the pace of the proceedings. Look. Cut me a break, he says. I made a mistake. I tell him what my father used to tell me, what his father used to tell him, that a man is only as good as his word, and if you can’t trust a man’s word, then what can you trust? How about this, he says. What if I do the third way under the pretense of it being the second way? I tell him the idea would have been fine had he not just told me, but it is no longer fine, since he just told me. And anyway, because of my rare intuitive gifts, I would likely know if he was pulling one over on me. I see, he says, and begins pacing the room; he hooks his hands behind his neck. Maybe if we put our heads together we can come up with a solution to our little predicament, he says. I tell him I think better with a glass of warm milk. So do I, he says. So we sit and we think and we drink our milk and we sit and we think and we drink and we sit and we think.

 

 

Ravi Mangla is the author of the novel Understudies (Outpost19). His stories have appeared in Mid-American Review, The Collagist, American Short Fiction, Tin House Online, and Barrelhouse. In his spare time, he makes his own hummus.

Ways appeared originally in Dark Sky Magazine.