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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
In Chapter 7, Jack and Jill get their makeover scenes.
Last chapter the twins made their choices on who they wanted to be. This chapter, we get our first glimpse of what that looks like, both in how they are treated, how they behave, and how they are dressed.
In Chapter 6, Jack and Jill choose their roles, their guardians, and their destiny.
More choices are made here. Real choices, this time, not simply choices over what to have for dinner. Both sisters have clear ideas over what they want, and they prioritise that over everything else.
In Chapter 5, we are given a proper introduction to the Moors, and dine with the people in power.
Despite the chapter title, neither Jack nor Jill are given a real choice in this chapter, not yet. Their new nicknames were given to them. They get to choose their food, but don’t get to see what it is until after the choice is made. Instead, it is the Master and Dr. Bleak who talk about choosing.
The thief entered the bookshop carefully. The place was supposed to be heavily defended, as it stored some of the treasures of the kingdom. But there were no guards. The books simply stood upon the shelves, some of them leaning against each other.
The most precious tomes, the ones of magic, stood on the back shelf. The thief sneered. They weren’t locked up. They weren’t even behind glass. What fools.
Look, sometimes life gets to be too much, to the point where you don’t just want any book. You want a book with no unpleasant surprises, a book you know and love. A comfort read.