Grandmere Catherine’s funeral is a major event, with people coming from miles around. Ruby faints halfway through the service and wakes up in a car outside of her house. Mrs. Livaudis, one of GC’s friends, helps her upstairs and gives her some lemonade. Paul, who has been pacing up and down the stairs while she was getting herself together, comes up and sits with her. Ruby is upset because she wanted the funeral to be perfect, but Paul assures her that it was, regardless of her fainting spell. She asks if her Grandpere showed up, and if he was drinking, and Paul lies badly that he was not. Grandpere acts up downstairs just then, roaring that he’ll do what he pleases in his own house, and as Paul and Ruby go downstairs, he’s chasing all of the mourners out of the house. Paul and Ruby back up the stairs until he’s calmed down, and then they go down and clean while GJ’s passed out in a chair. Paul leaves, and promises that he’s going to talk to his father and find out about this whole “siblings” thing.
Ruby goes back to her room and sleeps for a while, but she’s woken up by Grandpere Jack tearing through the cupboards and prying up loose floorboards downstairs. He’s looking for Grandmere’s secret stash of money, and he doesn’t believe Ruby when she assures him that it doesn’t exist. She briefly considers giving him her painting money, but she remembers her promise to Grandmere and she keeps her mouth shut. Smart girl. Ruby puts the pots and pans away, but she hears GJ digging up the backyard looking for the money.
Time passes and Ruby marvels at how slowly it’s passing. She keeps dwelling on her promise to leave Houma and not to live with her grandfather, but she’s afraid to leave the SWAMPS and she keeps remembering every horrible story she’s ever heard about young girls alone in the Big Easy, so she sticks around, cleaning up the house and cooking for Grandpere Jack. GJ gets grosser and grosser–he’s got lice and he hardly ever bathes, and though Ruby tries really hard to believe that one day he’ll get better, she’s not really too sure about that anymore. He is still convinced that there is hidden money somewhere on the property, and he accuses Ruby of moving the money to a place that he’s already searched, and though she tells him that’s not true, he doesn’t believe her and threatens to go harass Grandmere’s friends to see if they know anything. The house is falling apart, and though Grandpere promises in his lucid moments to fix things up, it usually falls to Ruby or to Paul, who hasn’t gotten up the nerve to ask his dad about GC’s story yet. Grandpere is suspicious about how much time Paul spends at the house. Ruby’s all “He’s my friend, knock it off old man” (okay, maybe not that far), but GJ tells her to look out for the Tates, who think that they’re something special because they’re rich. Also, he’s your brother, Ruby. There’s always that.
One Sunday Paul tells Ruby that he’s going fishing with his father after church, and since it’ll just be the two of them, he’s going to finally ask him about Grandmere’s story. Ruby waits all day to hear from Paul, but he doesn’t show up until that evening. By which I mean it’s so late that Ruby’s already in bed, so he lets himself into her house, steps over her passed-out grandfather, and wanders into her bedroom and stands in her doorway. Creeper. Octavious told him that the story was true. EXCEPT, that in Octavious’ version, Gabrielle was after him all of the time, smiling at him in town and wandering by him on the street, and on that fateful day when Paul was conceived, she paddled up to Octavious’ boat in a canoe, stripped off, swam over, and climbed in. And what could he do but cheat on his wife with her? Oh BS, Octavious. Who swims in a SWAMP? Naked? Grody.
Oh don’t smile at me like that, Swamp Thing, it’s skeevy. ANYWAY. Ruby doesn’t want to believe this version of the story (and well she should not), but she thinks about all of the dreams she’s had about Paul, and she realizes that maybe it is true, since she’s clearly a wild child like her mother. Okay, seriously? Ruby. No. Also, a note about the prequels: I’m a prequel believer. I tend to think that once we’re hearing Gabrielle’s story or Leigh’s or Olivia’s (either one), what’s the point of lying anymore? Obviously there are mad continuity errors, so those have to be dealt with, but then there are things like this. According to the prequel (SPOILER), Octavious raped Gabrielle. I’m pretty much of the opinion that this is the truth. Carrying on, Paul is willing to believe the worst of his father, but he’s also willing to be an absolute creeper supreme and tell Ruby that they should just forget that part of themselves and get it on anyway. After all, they weren’t raised as siblings (Unlike some, eh, Christopher and Cathy?), nobody else knows except for Grandpere Jack, whom no one will believe, and Paul’s parents, who won’t say anything that might reflect badly on their family, and it won’t be the first time that such a thing has happened in the BAYOU. ERGO, they should totally do it right now, AND once they’ve done it the first time, it’ll be easier and easier the more that they do it! PAUL TATE YOU ARE GROTESQUE.
Ruby is against this plan, but since she’s a VCA heroine, she has to suffer from “No, but…wait, I mean, hey that tickles! No, I mean…hold on I-am-so-overwhelmed” syndrome, so Paul’s got the top of her nightie pulled down before they get interrupted by Grandpere Jack. Paul gets out of there pretty quickly and Grandpere Jack proves that creepin’ is genetic as he stares at Ruby until she covers up, all the while muttering about how grown up she’s gotten and how he’ll have to deal with that. The cracks in my psyche that I endure to recap this stuff for you folks, I swear…oh who am I kidding, it’s fun! And disgusting! Ruby goes back to bed and cries and feels bad for a while, as well she should. I’m sorry, but dude. He’s your brother.
Paul doesn’t come to school (SO NOW THEY’RE BACK IN SCHOOL??? ARRRRGH!!) that Monday, but on the walk home, Ruby hears him calling her and turns to see him pulling up in his motor boat. He wants her to come with him as he’s got something to show her. Oh I’m so sure. Ruby agrees with me, but Paul promises not to try anything with her, he really just wants to show her something. So Ruby goes with him, and Paul takes her out into the SWAMPS to a massive piece of land. This land is Paul’s land, as it’s part of his inheritance. Ruby’s all “That’s super for you, really, but I’ve got to get home to my shack and make dinner for my disgusting drunken grandfather who likes to sell babies”, but Paul has something else to show her too. Paul takes the boat over to some water where there are weird air bubbles coming up. Apparently this means that there is oil in that there land, black gold, Texas tea, and this means that Paul is going to be even more super rich once he gets his hands on this property and starts drilling the oil. And with money, he can build a massive plantation house, a real palace, where he and his half-sister can live and no one will ever know their shame!
Oh hold on, Ruby says, this again? But Paul’s on a roll. They can pay off Grandpere Jack and Paul’s parents still won’t say anything and they can have servants and they can even adopt kids if Ruby’s worried about that, and they can get married and live happily ever after! It’s totally fine if they don’t have kids! (Somewhere Christopher Dollanganger Foxworth Sheffield is nodding along.) Ruby again turns this plan down and asks Paul to take her home. Once home, she walks in to discover Grandpere Jack sitting at the kitchen table with a gross man named Buster Trahaw, who is the son of some other local rich guy. The men are drinking beer and eating crawdads, and GJ directs Ruby to the shrimp in the sink, just waiting for her to shell them and cook them. Golly, thanks, Grandpere! As Ruby gets ready to make dinner, GJ is talking her up to Buster, detailing what a good cook she is, and how she takes such good care of the house, and of his gross ass, and Ruby starts to get a little suspicious. Grandpere also mentions that Buster’s “seen Ruby around” as she’s walking to and from school and the like, and Buster chimes in that he’s always liked what he saw, since Ruby “keeps herself nice and pretty”. Oh goddd the skeeve. Hold up, I need a shower.
And I’m back! Ruby is just as skeeved as I was, and more so once Grandpere brings up the fact that Buster is going to be taking charge of his father’s business soon, and he’s lookin’ to get himself a wife, and he wouldn’t mind if that wife was Ruby. Ruby tries to be calm and polite, pointing out that she’s only 15 (lots of girls in the BAYOU are married by then! Younger, even!), that she hasn’t finished school yet (she’s already gone for longer than either GJ or Buster!), and that she wants to be an artist, not a wife (Buster’ll buy her all the paint she wants! Tons of it!), but she finally just loses it and screams that she’s not marrying anyone and certainly not Buster Trahaw. She runs upstairs, but stops to listen in on the conversation below. Buster is pretty pissed off that he went and bought GJ a whole case of beer and Ruby’s not the compliant little thing that he was promised. However, since he likes a “little spirit” in his ladies, he’s willing to overlook it and give GJ an advance on the $5000 he’s giving him for Ruby provided that Buster gets to “try out” the goods before the wedding night. My soooooooul. Ruby quietly begs Grandpere to tell him off, but of course he doesn’t–he agrees and the men laugh and get drunker.
Ruby has had it. She packs her bag and prepares to leave as soon as GJ is asleep. Unfortunately, he comes upstairs to yell at her about Buster and sees the bag, and mocks her for trying to run away. Then he chains her to her bed. Yes really. He ignores Ruby’s tears and goes down to drink. Ruby cries and yanks at the chain a little, but eventually realizes that because GJ is a drunk idiot, he only looped the chain around her ankle and the bed frame, so all she has to do is lift the bed up, slide the chain off, and unwind it. This is why one must stay calm and analyze the situation, Ruby. You are a shame to redheads.
Ruby grabs her bag and tiptoes downstairs, around GJ’s unconscious form, and out into the night. She considers going to one of Grandmere’s friends’ houses, but decides that she has to follow through and go to New Orleans. She goes to the bus station and buys a ticket, then hangs out for the intervening hour hiding in case GJ comes looking for her. She writes and mails Paul a goodbye letter, explaining that she has to go and find her real father, and that he means a lot to her, oh and please get over me I am your sister, then the bus comes and she’s off. She sits down next to a friendly-looking young lady, who also has the distinct privilege of being Magical Negro number one. Her name is Annie, and she’s going to New Orleans to work for her aunt, who is a singer. Annie’s going to be a singer too. Annie’s wearing a pretty basic (but colorful! Of course!) halter top and peasant skirt combo (in 1963? At night?), a head scarf (natch!), and lots of jewelry, including a ring made out of bones with a skull on it. Ohhhhhh crap. Voodoo. Here we go. Annie asks Ruby if she’s ever been to New Orleans (which Annie refers to as “the watery grave”) before, and when Ruby says no, Annie mentions that Ruby’s picked the best time to visit, since it’s Mardi Gras! Ruby is appalled, since she had no idea that it was Mardi Gras even though she is a devout Catholic and Houma does its own parades and wonders if it’s all a big mistake to go. She tells Annie that she’s going to visit family, but that they have no idea she exists. As they leave Houma, Ruby starts to look back, but Annie tells her quickly not to do that, since it’s bad luck. Oh brother. Ruby immediately faces forward, and, on Annie’s orders, crosses herself three times. Annie then gives Ruby a piece of neck bone from a black cat (good gris-gris! Oh brother). Ruby accepts this piece of stereotype and heads for the Big City.
Coming up: Mardi Gras! Voodoo! More Mardi Gras! More voodoo! History lessons! Gisselle.