Later, when Jack looked back on the Nadia episode, he realized that he had always been either drunk or medicated when he saw her. This fact always left a lingering doubt on whether the winsome dancer had actually been the physical anomaly that she claimed to be and that he had bore witness to, or if the entire thing had been a product of his excess.
Of course, Jack had been drunk and/or medicated many times and been with many women under those conditions and had never imagined anything like Sketcher before and the little fellow had been so entertaining, so real – the details so vivid – that he had a hard time believing he had been imaginary. “I’m not that interesting,” he told Walter. “I could never make up anything that entertaining.” Walter, who had never seen Sketcher, remained skeptical.
Jack first met Nadia when he and Walter had wandered into a bar not far from Wrigley Field after drinking their way through most of a Cub’s game. The season was young and the two men both had the day off from Temptron. They wandered into the Brass Ass sometime after the sixth inning, but before the game had ended – The Ass still had it on their screen above the bar when they arrived. Jack noticed the table of attractive women by the back window and smiled at them as he and Walter made their way to the bar.
“Did you see those ladies?” Jack asked.
“Don’t even start,” Walter shook his head. The last time Jack had been in a frisky mood, he had gotten them tangled up with the Water Buff and Sylvia the Dominatrix. “You leave them ladies be.”
Jack couldn’t take his eyes off the table of young women, something he was certain they were mostly used to, being young and gorgeous and all. Especially the leggy blond one – she had the look of the Eastern European, lean and angular, with skin like polished alabaster. At least that’s what Jack thought. He wasn’t certain what alabaster was and had no idea if it could be polished. “Hi,” Jack said, once he could pry himself away from the skittish Walter under the pretext of going to the restroom.
“Hello,” the blond said, looking Jack levelly in the eyes. She had an accent that Jack couldn’t place – he assumed it was Eastern European and that his instincts were on the money. Her companions snickered, but Jack hardly cared, He had a snoot-full and was smitten with the cool blond.
“My name is Jack,” he said, offering his hand.
The blond leaned forward and kissed Jack on the lips firmly, then took his hand to shake. “I am Nadia,” she whispered.
“Hi Nadia…” Jack still had her taste on his lips and didn’t want it to ever go away – in fact, he thought, I may never drink again, lest I wash her taste away…
Ten minutes later, Jack sidled back up to the bar next to Walter, a drunken, smug smile on his face. Walter appeared not to have noticed he had been gone. “Well?” Jack asked, holding out a folded up bar napkin. “Guess what this is…”
Walter looked over at the napkin, then Jack’s face. It was difficult for him to focus – he was glad they had taken the train into town. “I don’t know…” Walter shrugged. “A tiny little pillow?”
Jack shook his head, the smile still glued on his lips. “Nope. Not a tiny little pillow…” He unfolded the napkin to reveal the beautiful cursive writing. “It’s a nap-i-kin with a pretty girl’s phone number on it…”
“Oh no,” Walter moaned, motioning the bartender for two more shots of Irish Whiskey. “Oh no you don’t…”
“Oh yes,” Jack said. “Oh yes, I do…”
“Well,” Walter reasoned. “I suppose a phone number is okay… At least you’re not trying to drag those women home with us.”
“Certainly not,” Jack said. The bartender arrived with their drinks and despite their inebriation, the two clinked glasses and threw back the shots with military precision. So much for never drinking again, lest he wash her taste away. “I’m going home with her,” Jack continued. “She invited me to come and spend the night!” Jack smiled proudly. His mouth was crooked and his eyes glazed.
“Then what do you need her telephone number for?” Walter asked.
Jack looked down at the napkin, deep in thought. After a moment, he looked his friend sternly in the face. “This is about trust,” he said. “Principle.”
“Okay,” Walter said turning back to face the bartender – that’s where they kept the alcohol.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Jack said, haughtily. “Until then, I expect I will be busy.”
“Watch your wallet,” Walter offered as his friend sauntered into his new adventure.