Jay never had to be bright, talented or introspective when he was growing up. Attractive and popular, he always had friends and was rarely without a girlfriend. The world as he knew it was a place where the things he wanted came easily.
Then his parents died in the pandemic and he couldn’t get the morgue to release their bodies for private burial. Furious that neither charm nor appeals to reason could get him what he wanted, he sought allies in a group of Kevorkians trashing a nearby pub. They agreed that if he would help them finish off the pub, they would help him get his parents’ bodies released. It seemed a small price to pay to keep his parents from being thrown into a common pit, and since social order was breaking down everywhere, there was nothing to lose and plenty to gain.
The Kevorkians tried to fulfill their end of the bargain, but it was too late to recover the bodies of Jay’s parents. With no other options at hand and a lot of anger to work through, Jay stayed on with the Kevorks, acquiring the nickname “Gallows” for his favored way of dealing with politicians, doctors, morgue officials, and anyone else who tried to keep young people like himself from honoring the last wishes of their loved ones.
Jay’s anger was soon spent, but he was too deeply enmeshed with the Kevorks to simply walk away. That was desertion, and the Kevorkians killed over less than that. So he drank and took pills from raided pharmacies to cope with his feelings. Under the influence, he did things he regretted until one night his cousin Paul found him on a bridge contemplating suicide. Paul took him to the Regency Hotel, helped him clean up, and convinced him that it wasn’t too late to change directions.
Jay was allowed to join the Regents, even though Mundo was wary of former Kevorks and made him work as a forager. Jay’s policy of avoiding needless violence annoys fellow forager David, another ex-Kevork, who gave him the new name “Galahad” in sarcastic reference to Jay’s attitude that they should try to do what’s right instead of what’s merely expedient.
More than anything, Jay wants to understand why society broke down. He believes if he can understand how civilization evolved and failed, he can figure out how to put it back together again. For awhile he was studying the classics of Western literature, hoping to find the answers in words out of the past, but the answers he needs have not been forthcoming.
Although he probably has a better understanding of the post-Telo world than anyone else at the Regency Hotel, the contradictions of his past and present keep him from taking a leadership role in the group.