The Jenny Q Rule

This is the second of four excerpts from Displacement, which hits the shelves February 11, 2020.

You can pre-order a hardcover copy now directly from Prospective Press (US only, for now), and e-reader preorders are coming soon!

Come back next Saturday for another excerpt, and Tuesdays and Fridays for more!


“Jamie, be serious for a minute. They’d have thrown you out if Amy hadn’t caught it.”


“I know what you were going for—the show was about censorship and you wanted to make it an object lesson. That’s smart. You’re a smart guy sometimes.” He shakes his head. “But when dropping the F-bomb seven times and the C-word four times in three minutes isn’t the most outrageous part of a song, you gotta think twice, kid.”

He wants to say that Jack’s the only person in the world he’d let call him ‘kid,’ but instead he just says “mm” and grinds his toes into the ground.

“Amy’s not going to do anything about it. The show’s gone and nobody’s going to know it ever existed. The fact that she’s willing to do that should tell you something about how bad this could have gone.” He sighs a stream of white breath into the October air.

“I didn’t…” He stares at the ground. “I figured they’d put me on probation and it’d be worth it since it proved my point.”

Jack sighs again and stares at him. Jamie feels suddenly ridiculous in his metal spikes and blue hair, and desperately wants to go back to the dorm to change.

“They’d have expelled you, and probably canned AcademyOne for the whole semester.”

Jamie’s jaw nearly hits the ground. “You can’t be serious. Shut down the whole radio program just for…what, a little swearing and ugly sex references?”

Jack nods. “Ever hear of the Jenny Q rule?”

Jamie hasn’t, and shakes his head.

“Girl in her last year when we got here, Jenny Quincy, I think her name was. She tried a stunt like yours. It was a lot more mundane, of course. An unauthorized showing of some movie. Girl, Interrupted, if I’m remembering it right. Next thing you know there’s an email apology in every student’s inbox and she’s gone back to wherever she came from.”

“Actually, now that you mention it, that does sound a little familiar.”

“Ever see a movie organized by students shown on campus?”

Jamie blinks. “Wait, are you serious?”

He nods. “That’s the Jenny Q rule. Going three years on and you still can’t get a movie shown without it having been seen start-to-finish by someone in admin. And since they’re not keen on anything that’s not on the approved national curriculum…”

Jamie crouches down and hugs his knees. This is why he doesn’t like talking to Jack when he’s done something wrong. Because if Jack thinks it was a bad enough idea to stop him, it was probably a really, fantastically, epically bad idea. He stares at the ground.


Jack flicks one of Jamie’s hair spikes, and, finding they’re rubbery, tousles his hair.

“It’s okay, kid. But damn, you still need a lot of supervision. What are you going to do when I’m not around next year? Your father will kill you if you get expelled, and then the great J. Patton Goldmark will come after me for not doing a better job of knocking some sense into his son.”

Right. Jack’s a year older than him and Lizzie. They’d all come here the same year, so he forgets sometimes. Jack’s getting gone soon. That sucks.

“Probably get kicked out, I guess,” he says.

Jack just looks at him in silence for long enough to make Jamie wonder, but he doesn’t look up. “Don’t,” is all he says.

Jamie stays balled up, staring at the ground until he hears the door open and shut, and he’s alone.


Displacement comes out February 11, 2020! Check back for more excerpts every Saturday, and for other posts on Tuesdays and Fridays!