Someone’s in an Attic!


So it’s now summertime, and Gabrielle is helping her mother at their roadside stand. Business isn’t great–an oppressively hot summer (who ever heard of such a thing?) has brought tourism to a standstill, so much so that even Jack has to find work elsewhere and he leaves for a job in Baton Rouge. Catherine can tell that something is wrong with her daughter, but Gabrielle passes it off as the heat. One day while Jack is gone, a couple of hired goons come by looking for him and cut up the screen door as a threat. Not long afterwards, Jack himself comes home early, having had a “disagreement” with the foreman. Thank for coming Jack, you add a lot to this narrative. Well, time goes on and Gabrielle starts being sick to her stomach. Catherine gives her some medicine that seems to help, but Gabrielle then starts feeling tired all of the time. They blame the heat until one day Catherine notices that Gabrielle has been to the outhouse about a million times and realizes that she’s pregnant. Uh oh. Gabrielle starts to cry, which brings Jack into the room, so he’s there when she tells her parents about what Octavious Tate did to her. Jack goes bananas and demands that Gabrielle get dressed immediately and come with him. Catherine tries to protest, but Gabby agrees to go.

They head first to the cannery, where they bust into Octavious’ office and Jack confronts him, but Tate (I’m so tired of typing Octavious) denies everything and threatens to call the police. Jack is just like “Fine then, we’ll do this the hard way” and takes Gabrielle straight to see Gladys. The butler is none too thrilled to tell Gladys that they’re there, but he does, and she agrees to see them, though she’s obviously not pleased about it. Gabrielle is astonished at how beautiful the Tate mansion is, and is afraid to touch anything. They sit down and Jack tells Gladys that her husband raped Gabrielle and got her pregnant. Gladys doesn’t immediately protest (she obviously knows on some level that her husband is scum), but she’s obviously a little skeptical, especially when she recognizes Gabrielle and Jack from the scene at the graduation.

Gladys asks Jack to leave her and Gabrielle alone, and questions her a little more closely about what happened. Gladys doesn’t react until Gabrielle tells her what Octavious had said about his sexless marriage. That seems to really piss her off. Gladys sends for some drinks and goes off (to call her husband, seemingly). Shortly, Octavious shows up and once again threatens to call the cops, only to be stopped by Gladys, who tells him to look Gabrielle in the face and deny what she’s saying. He can’t. Octavious wants to know how much Jack wants, but Gladys interrupts and says that’s not the issue–the issue is what SHE wants. And what she wants, as we well know, is to raise the baby as her own. Everyone’s stunned, to say the least, but she points out to her husband that all of their lives will be ruined otherwise–the Landrys will be shunned due to Gabrielle’s pregnancy, and there’s no way that they can ever pay Jack  enough to keep his mouth shut. She points out as well that if they don’t do this, people will still blame Gabrielle for what happened. Jack is unsure but Gabrielle starts to think that Gladys is right. Octavious takes Jack to discuss the money aspect of it and leaves Gladys and Gabrielle to talk. It’s soon clear that there is a whole lot of stuff going on inside of Ms. Gladys Tate. First she doesn’t believe that Gabrielle was a virgin, then she gets sad and blames herself, then she snaps out of that and accuses Gabrielle of setting a trap for Octavious, then she insists that she’s doing all of this to help the Landrys, not herself. She tells Gabrielle that there will be strict rules to follow, and that she will kick Gabby and her baby out into the SWAMPS if Gabrielle breaks them. Gladys agrees to pretend that she’s having Catherine come to help with her pregnancy so that Gabrielle can still see her mother, but that she will have absolutely no other contact with the outside world. She wants Gabrielle to move in that very night, at midnight, once the servants are asleep. Gabrielle agrees.

Jack and Octavious come back and the Landrys leave. They tell Catherine, who isn’t too thrilled, naturally, and who is rightfully disgusted by her husband’s actions. Plus he’s only getting $5000, which…come on, guy. This is your grandbaby you’re selling here. Think big. Gabrielle assures her mother that she wants to do this and they come up with a cover story for Gabrielle being away and pack her bag. That night, Jack drops Gabrielle off at the Tate mansion and Gladys sneaks her up to a small attic room full of dust and old toys. She explains that it used to be her playroom when she was little and she goes off about how she expects Gabrielle to take care of it. Gabrielle is less than sure how much care she’s supposed to take of some dusty dolls, but she agrees. Oh and there’s a chamber pot that Gabrielle can use and empty once a day, at night once everyone’s sleeping, which is also when she can take a shower. And she can’t open the window. These are prime pregnancy conditions, I’m sure.

And now the rules. No leaving the room ever without Gladys’ permission. No shoes, since someone might hear her walking around, and no singing or music and when Gabrielle talks to herself (which Gladys is sure she’ll do) only whispers. There’s a gallon jug of water that Gabrielle can drink from all day and refill at night, and Gladys will try to get up twice a day with food and water, but she can’t promise anything. This is all from What to Expect When You’re Expecting, right? And there’s no electricity, just a kerosene lantern that Gabrielle can use when the sun goes down, but only then and only away from the window. There are some books and games in the closet that Gabrielle can entertain herself with, and Gladys will bring her some weaving and embroidery supplies. Finally, every Thursday the maids have the night off (oh and the house is called The Shadows, which is amazing) and on that night Gladys will come get Gabrielle and she can eat downstairs and stretch her legs. She can also walk around outside in the back, but only until she’s showing. Gabrielle agrees to the rules, though she doesn’t hide that she finds most of them ridiculous. Gladys says that she is really the victim in all of this and they agree that once the baby is born they’ll both be glad to see the end of each other. She leaves and Gabrielle unpacks and fall asleep.

The next morning Gabrielle is woken up by the smells of breakfast coming from the kitchen, but when Gladys doesn’t show up with any food, she decides to look around the room and try to entertain herself. She finds a dollhouse made as an exact replica of The Shadows, except for the room she’s currently in. The books Gladys had mentioned are all picture books and Gabrielle is annoyed that Gladys thought they’d be enough for her. She pokes through some old paint sets and an old toy doctors kit, which, like the dollhouse, seems to have been barely used. In the pile, Gabrielle finds an old sketchbook of Gladys’, and begins to go through it. This is, of course, when things get weird. One of the drawings that catches her eye is a self-portrait of a young Gladys, with the face of a bearded man hovering behind her, his hand over her shoulder. Uh oh. Gabrielle finds two cards in the book, each with a picture of a bird on the front. One says “To my Little Princess. Love, Daddy” and the other reads “Never be afraid. Love, Daddy”. Uh oh. There’s another drawing, this one of a man without a shirt, with a screaming face drawn in the middle of his torso, then some innocuous drawings of trees and horses, and then a drawing of a naked man from the waist down. Uh oh. Gabrielle has had enough of that and she tosses the book back into the closet and starts dusting things to pass the time. This eventually leads her to the dolls. Noooo Gabby just leave the dolls alone, oh god don’t mess with the dolls. When she puts one down on the table she sees something weird about its dress and lifts it, discovering that black paint has been put between its legs. Similar things have been done to all of the dolls, especially the two male ones, who have been completely smashed from the waist down. Because what this series needed was another poor child sexually abused by a parent. Gabrielle puts the dolls back and is trying not to think about what this all means when Gladys comes in with the food. I cannot imagine how awkward the tension is in that room right now.

Gabrielle starts to eat the breakfast Gladys brought and tells her how lovely the dollhouse is. Turns out that Gladys’ father made it for her and she doesn’t take kindly to Gabrielle’s suggestion that it should be on display downstairs. Well come ON Gabrielle, put some of what you just found together. Gabrielle asks for some more challenging reading material and Gladys agrees to see what she can do. She tells Gabrielle that she has to be sure to keep the shade lowered during the day, since it’s never been up and someone will notice. Gabrielle wonders aloud why Gladys wouldn’t want to keep her old playroom nicer. GABRIELLE LANDRY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. Gladys snaps at her to mind her own and goes to get Gabrielle some water so that she can keep cleaning. When she returns with the water, she begins grilling Gabrielle about her pregnancy symptoms, so that she can better lie to others. Gabrielle starts to notice little bits of weirdness, like when she mentions an herb that Catherine gave her that stopped her morning sickness and Gladys decides to have Catherine bring her some too, and then slightly larger bits of weirdness, like when Gladys has Gabrielle take all of her clothes off so that Gladys can measure her stomach. Gladys leaves after that, promising to bring Catherine and a book soon.

Gladys and Catherine come up that night, and Catherine is immediately angry at the room that Gabrielle is being kept in. Gladys is unmoved and points out that it’s the only secluded place in the house and that Gabrielle is still eating well, but she’s annoyed when Catherine asks to speak to her daughter alone. Gladys leaves and the Landry ladies discuss her weirdness. Catherine makes sure that Octavious hasn’t been around bothering Gabrielle, gives her some more herbs and some snacks, and leaves. Gabrielle reads for a while until Gladys comes back up to tell her that she can come use the bathroom now. Gabrielle is again overwhelmed by how fancy the house is, but how unhappy everyone in it seems to be. She takes a bath and returns her clean chamber pot to her room, then goes back down to get some water. As she’s going back upstairs, she hears something in the next room. She peeks in and sees Gladys in another bathroom, throwing up. Gabrielle pulls back so that Gladys can’t see her and immediately suspects that Gladys is making herself throw up because Gabrielle had said she had thrown up. She dismisses that idea as too crazy even for Gladys (oh just wait) and hastens back to her room. The next few days go by uneventfully, until the first Thursday when she can go downstairs. Gladys comes to get her and they eat a fancy dinner in the dining room and Gladys asks her about her appetite and cravings, getting angry when Gabrielle tells her something (she wants Gabrielle to tell her these things as they happen, not after the fact). As they drink coffee, Gladys opens up a little about how Octavious still doesn’t think that he did anything wrong and that he’s not home because he’s out with another woman, but she soon snaps back into her old self and sends Gabrielle outside to take her walk. Gabrielle thanks her for dinner, thinks again about how sad the house really is, and goes out for some air.

So yeah. That all happened. I think I’d purposely forgotten most of that stuff about Gladys and her father. Yikes. Okay, coming up: Gabrielle is lonely and pregnant some more, Octavious is a creep, and our world is blessed with the appearance of Paul Tate. Hurrah? See you then!


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Tashina says:

    I’d forgotten how both creepy and boring that book was.

    1. Megan says:

      I know, right? That’s the problem with prequels: we already know how it turns out, AND there are absolutely no surprises here unless we count Gladys’ terrible childhood. Which I don’t, because it’s neither interesting nor necessary. Poor Gladys.

  2. walkerboh61 says:

    …Well, one could say Ruby came by her… naivety… honestly. And when I read the book, during this part I had shades of Garden of Shadows. Creepy attic? Check. Creepy jailor? Check. Jailor going through the motions of pregnancy? Check. (Though Gladys may have gone farther than Olivia, I can’t recall.) Malcolm insert? Well, Octavious came pretty close.

    No Swampthing? D:

    1. Megan says:

      I think Gladys definitely goes further than Olivia, as I don’t recall Olivia ever wetting herself to simulate her water breaking. (SPOILER) But now you mention it, yeah they’re super similar.

    2. Megan says:

      Oh and yeah, no Swamp Thing. He was too bored to deal with this. He’s such a drama queen.

  3. Dafne Gutierrez says:

    Wait so there’s a doctors kit (pearl!) and a paint set (Ruby!) and a very FiTa-esque attic imprisonment. Even the day the servants are off is the same! There’s also the doll house, like the one Olivia Couldn’t play with…not very creative for Neiderman at that time.

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