Joan says to Ryan, "You've been really good to Adam. I think saving his life was probably enough." Ryan smirks, "Why don't you like me, Joan?" Well, you're decent-looking enough, and it turns out you're rich, but the lingering odour of brimstone is a bit of a deal-breaker. Joan, usually an unconvincing liar, lies unconvincingly, "I don't -- not -- like you. I don't know you." He tells her they have more in common than she realizes. Joan: "Oh, really? Besides Adam?" He lowers his voice: "I saw you talking to her." Joan: "Who?" He gestures with his chin, and Joan turns around to look at Female Custodian God, who's picking up garbage and looking in their direction with some disgruntlement. Joan, trying to be casual: "The…custodian?" Frink: "…of the universe?" Ryan cracks up: "Yeah. Nice metaphor." It's interesting that "custodian" has such a degraded connotation in our culture. I always have to suppress a small chuckle when I see King Fahd referred to, with great pomp and grandeur, as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and I picture him pushing a broom around the Ka'aba, sweeping up after hajj. I know I'm not the only Westerner in that boat, either; Muslim pilgrims from the West have been chortling to themselves about this for some time. Ryan: "Kind of relentless, isn't she? Or he? A little annoying. Omnipresent, and always right." Joan listens to all this with a growing sense of trepidation and disbelief: "You -- you can see…?" Ryan: "God. Since I was about your age." Joan doesn't know what to say. She finally meets someone else who shares this experience…and he's got that faint, creepy whiff of eau de Satan about him. What's that about? He tells her they'll have plenty of time to talk just before he wanders off. Joan watches him as he walks past Female Custodian God, with the wind machines working overtime. He makes a point of giving Female Custodian God a semi-threatening look as he passes; she just stands there, calm and dignified, her bright red garbage bag blowing like a wind sock near a Cessna landing. She walks past Joan in the other direction. Man, there's just a ridiculous amount of paper blowing around this schoolyard. I think I see some of Grace's poems. With all the janitorial Gods lurking around this place, you'd think there'd be a little less garbage blowing around. Maybe if God stopped hassling Joan and did a little work, there'd be less mess. Joan stands there, ruminating, while half a metric tonne of garbage blusters past her.
Joan's sitting on the floor of the bookstore, leaning against the end of a bookshelf, talking on the phone to Sammy -- which version is anyone's guess -- and complaining that the store's had no customers for two hours: "It's dead, Sammy. It's like there are plagues coming. Please, just let me close up. I have to study." Good grief. You've got a whole bookstore at your disposal and no one around to bug you. Why do you need to close? Just study there. Man, I would work in a bookstore in a minute -- never mind the dreadful pay -- if I just didn't have to deal with actual customers. Me, alone in a good bookstore? That's my idea of heaven. Joan hears the door open and says, "Oh, wait, there's a customer. Hasn't heard about the plagues. I'll call you back later." She gets up on her knees and twists around the end of the bookshelf, only to see it's Ryan. He just stands there with his hands in his pockets, grinning. Smug bastard. She says, "It's you…" as she gets to her feet, adding, "And it's me." He spreads his hands: "Here we are." He approaches her, asking if she has anything on how to run a newspaper. Joan: "You're kidding, right?" Ryan: "Not really. Just about everything I know was self-taught. All the information in the world, right here for the taking." I have to say, the creepy vibe this guy gives off is such that if I were just tuning into this show now, I'd think he's planning to rape her. So, uh, well done, I guess. He continues, "Most people don't know how to use it. That's to our advantage." Joan emits a small, nervous laugh: "That and the other thing." He agrees.