I would include a spoiler warning, only there isn’t much to spoil here. Instead, a summary: “Boys will be killers” is the first story in actor Bryan Brown’s short story collection, entitled Sweet Jimmy. In this story, we are introduced to two brothers, Jimmy and Johnny, and their older cousin Phil, all three well-versed in shoplifting, breaking and entering, and various crimes of that nature. Phil is sent to jail for aggravated assault, but in jail he miraculously turns a new leaf, resumes a relationship with once-girlfriend Maureen, and convinces the prison superintendent to let him grow orchids. Jimmy and Johnny take up trades and use them as covers for burglary, despite Phil’s advice to go straight. Jimmy sleeps around. Johnny falls in love with Daisy, but this romance is cut short when Daisy’s mother decides he’s not good enough for her. When Phil gets out of jail and starts selling orchids, they join him and help out with deliveries. Oh, also, a couple of women get murdered. Terry the detective arrests Phil on the basis that both victims visited his store and gave him their address (and both had orchids at their houses), but turns out it was Johnny, enacting a revenge fantasy on people who reminded him of Daisy’s mother. He then murders Daisy’s mother. The end.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 12: Everything You Never Wanted & Chapter 13: A Thousand Miles of Hardship Between Here and Home
In the final two chapters, the sisters return to where they started.
In chapters 10 and 11, Jack and Jill made their defining choices. Now we see the consequences.
Old man tree,
Do not cry,
For we have come to better the land.
Old man tree,
Do not groan,
For where you stand will soon be a home.
Old man tree,
Do not sigh,
For your body will fuel the comfort of many.
Old man tree,
Do not weep,
For your death will not be in vain.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones Analysis, Chapter 10: And From Her Grave, A Red, Red Rose… & Chapter 11: …And From His Grave, A Briar
In Chapter 10, we find out how far Jill is willing to go to get what she wants. In Chapter 11, we find out what Jack is capable of when all she wants is ripped away.
Last chapter, we saw how different the sisters were, once you had them side by side. This chapter, we examine the extremes of each opposite end of the spectrum the sisters represent.
She lives in a house that stretches from the depths of Realms Beneath to the upper reaches of the stars. She built it long ago on foundation of tears.
Long ago, she had a family. She had a father who betrayed that family to seek his own power and immortality. He sold their souls to the one of the seven Lords of the Realms Beneath. When the Lord revealed that the bargain included the father’s own soul, the man broke his contract and went wandering across distant worlds, distant realities.
In Chapter 9, the sisters come face to face, making the rift between them very clear.
If you didn’t know which sister was meant to be the hero and which was meant to be the villain, you probably learned the difference in this chapter. Not that it wasn’t obvious before, but now, we see another side of Jill — namely, how she acts around her inferiors. She abuses the status she has, views it as her right. Jack’s conversation with the stallholder at the end makes it clear that she has acted worse than this before, and could act much worse out of jealousy. Being Jack’s friend is dangerous. We have been warned.
“They sail with sails of darkness,
They sail with sails of light,
They sail across the endless seas,
Beyond the moonless night.
They sail for dreams of glory,
They dream of making right.
They sail to tell their story,
Before their dreams take flight.”
The finely dressed man at the bar showed no appreciation for the song. “Who are they, then?”
In Chapter 8, we get a montage!
Montages are a little harder to pull off in written form. In a movie, all you need is a bunch of scenes and some cool music and you’re ready to go. In writing, you need a little more: reference to time passing, connecting tissue to link the scenes together somehow, a way to signal that we are skipping over many other things. Here, present tense is used as one such signal, which is interesting since present tense is generally used to create the effect of immediacy and immersion. This is the opposite of that—the tense helps us to zoom out and makes the scenes flash by a little faster. The return to past tense hits like a return to real time.
There’s a building that nobody questions. It sits in the middle of the city, squat and grey. Nobody ever has cause to go there, so they don’t, and nobody ever asks why it is there. Sometimes people go in and out, very occasionally, but they are always people you don’t know.