Jake Brehme

Former subeditor of The Grid and Raguly and Nebuly's patsy for the Sentimental Hygiene trials in Chapter 3, which apparently have a deleterious effect on both Jake's physical and mental health, at least for a time. Following a chance meeting with Rarity Dean in a park, Jake becomes a tenant in the same block of apartments as Rarity. When he tries to voluntarily cold turkey from his alcohol habit, Jake suffers delirium tremens and visits Rarity, requesting a glass of mustard. Rarity tries to help, calls an emergency doctor, which backfires and almost causes Jake to be arrested. Eventually, Jake is admitted to hospital, apparently overcomes his addiction and, ultimately, helps Rarity by driving her to Chalkhill Stadium when she needs to deliver Fraser Carlyon's fake book back to him before the Imprimatur event (Chapter 59).

Chapter 3
In one respect the experiment proved inconclusive. The impresario’s boffins failed to ascribe Jake’s survival to either the Alphamox capsule he had taken or to the mildly narcotic effects of the Gee’s Linctus. As a precaution all future doses of the antidote, secreted in items on bands’ tour riders, would therefore contain a bit of both.

In all other respects the results were hellish. Thirty-five punters, eight musos, three crewmembers, the soundman and the two baristas died in the first trial of the substance soon to be codenamed Sentimental Hygiene.

Chapter 57
I was about to push on the front door to my building when it opened from within. Jake filled the gap with his absent expression. “You,” I said, throwing my arms around his neck, “are the best thing that’s happened to me all day.” Jake’s mouth dropped open as I released him. “And if you have any idea where we could lay our hands on a flivver I may have to seduce you.”

“Steady on. I’m just off to trade some food stamps. What’s up? You seem flustered.”

I knew Jake had no flivver but maybe he had other friends apart from me, someone who’d lend him theirs. “I have to get to Chalkhill Stadium but the roads are choked with punters. Any ideas?”

“Chalkhill’s a bit out of my way, but we could borrow a flivver if it’s an emergency.”

“Do you know someone who’d lend us one?”

“Not exactly,” said Jake, producing something from his pocket. It was a metal, T-shaped object, partially bound in red insulating tape; the kind of sadistic implement a barber surgeon might use to extract a tooth.

“What the earworm is that thing?”

“Picklock. You never know when you might need it. And I owe you one, after all.” From his other pocket Jake produced a small angled wrench. “Now to find a flivver – there’s usually a pretty good one parked just across the road.”

“You’ve thought about stealing a flivver before?”

“Stealing implies I aim to keep it. We just want to borrow it, don’t we? We’ll make sure it’s returned and, if all goes well, whoever owns it won’t even notice it’s been gone.”

Jake appeared to float across the street. It wasn’t until he reached the other side that I became aware of his limbs driving him forward; I’d never seen him so resolute, so purposeful. The streetlights hadn’t come on but a faint spill of yellowish, pulsing light from the front rooms of the buildings opposite hinted at habitation. I followed some distance behind Jake, already feeling as though we were committing a crime even though we hadn’t done anything wrong yet.