"So did you see the message this morning?"
Jay was taking a swig of his diet cola as he half heard the question being asked.
"What message?" asked Jay.
The question was being asked by his coworker Larry. Jay and Larry worked as instructors at Smithville University. Larry taught human sciences, while Jay taught nursing. Larry was always blunt and to the point, which Jay wished he could blame on his upbringing, but knew was just Larry being Larry. But one thing he could never accuse Larry of being was dishonest. Larry was honest to a fault sometimes, but quick on his feet when he had to be.
"The message about potential layoffs?", asked Larry.
"Oh, that message? I was trying to forget it," Jay replied before taking another swig.
Larry watched Jay drinking his diet drink as if it were about to go out of style. Larry thought Jay seemed nervous, anxious. It was as if something were bothering him.
"Are you all right, man?", asked Larry.
"I'm fine, Lar."
"I'm fine, it's just been a stressful week, that's all."
Larry looked around the room a second, then back to Jay before he replied, "It's Monday morning, man. The week just started."
Jay sipped his drink again, "Well, yeah, typical Monday."
Jay started to sip his drink one more time, and Larry grabbed his arm to stop him. Jay looked over at Larry as they were now making eye contact with one another.
"Are you all right?", asked Larry again.
Jay took a deep sigh as he looked away from Larry. Then he looked back at him. "I just had a strange dream that kinda unnerved me a little, that's all."
Larry looked at Jay until Jay turned his head back to face him. Then a smile started coming across Larry's face.
"You were dreaming about her again, weren't you?"
"What are you talking about, Lar?"
"You know? Your new nursing instructor?"
"Oh for Pete's sakes! I should have never told you about that dream...", Jay took a swig again of his drink and gulped it down to finish it, looking away from Larry.
Larry was wooing and cackling, just to rile Jay up, "Yeah, I've seen the way you look at her. I know this because I've been lookin too."
"Would you please stop!"
Jay threw his empty bottle into the nearby trash can and started gathering his belongings to proceed to class.
Larry was relentless, "You had a dream about her, and all her 'assets'..."
Jay glared at Larry, as Larry began to chuckle some as he spoke.
"...and you liked it! Now you just don't know how to break the news to Linda. Am I right?"
Jay stopped his progression of gathering his things and looked at Larry, "You couldn't be more wrong, Lar."
"That's a bunch of bull, and you know it!"
Other professors leaving the area walked by the two having their conversation. This particular lounge was all encompassing, allowing members of the entire college to interact readily. The other professors weren't even paying attention to Jay and Larry, but that didn't stop Jay from worrying about what they thought.
"Keep your voice down, what if she walked in here?", said Jay.
Just then something caught Larry's eye, as he began looking passed Jay. This prompted Jay to turn around and look briefly. In walked the woman they had been talking about, the new nursing instructor. She was twenty-three years old, with long, dark brown hair, crystal blue eyes, and the face of an angel. And it only got better as you peered down. She was gorgeous and was a woman any man would dream of, hence Larry's statements to Jay. Larry knew Jay was a little sweet on the young woman, despite his marriage and Larry's for that matter. But as Larry had often said, "It's all right to look at the menu as long as you don't order from it."
Jay gave the nursing instructor a friend grin and nod. She gave him a sweet smile back, then looked away proceeding to the counter with the coffee maker. Jay immediately turned to look back at Larry. Larry was shaking his head up and down, his mouth partly open and tongue slightly wagging as he was giving a look to Jay that implied, "I told you so."
"I didn't dream about her, Lar."
"I didn't, you wanna see what I dreamed about?"
Larry found this statement confusing and a little disturbing. What's he about to do?, thought Larry.
"Dude, don't go whipping anything out now", Larry motioned with his hands for Jay to stop.
"Don't flatter yourself. This is what I dreamed about."
Jay pulled back the sleeve of his left arm to reveal the marks on his forearm. Larry looked down at it, his eyes slightly wider than before. He felt across Jay's arm over the marks. Then he began to chuckle again.
Jay thought, What's he going to say now?
"She got rough in that dream, didn't she?"
"I knew you couldn't take it seriously, Lar. Believe me, it freaks me out a little, especially because of what I was dreaming."
Larry got serious for a moment, as much as he could stand without laughing, "Ok, ok, what did you see?"
"It was creepy. I felt like I was in a fog and someone started chasing me. Right before I woke up, something reached for me. Then after I woke up, these marks were on my arm."
Larry just stared at Jay. Larry's face began to contort, however, as his attempts to hold back laughter were futile.
Jay, exasperated with his friend, started rolling up his sleeve.
Larry was laughing a bit, as he glanced over at the nursing instructor filling her coffee mug, her backside to both of them. Larry looked back at Jay, thoroughly delighted with what he had just glanced at.
"You're a dirty, dirty man. You think Linda bought that?" Larry picked up his stuff and started to exit the lounge, his laughter becoming more pronounced.
Jay sighed and turned to exit behind his friend, "At least I don't dream about my students like you."
Larry laughed even louder as he went through the doorway. This made the nursing instructor turn around and take notice. She took only a glance at the backsides of both Larry and Jay as they exited, then turned back to her coffee.
She ran her arm along the right sleeve of her blouse, as the door shut behind Jay and Larry. She rolled the sleeve back slightly to reveal a much more pronounced hand mark across her right arm. It had the definitive shape of a hand, fingers and all, but in her case a small bandage covered the fingertip areas of the mark. Whatever had grabbed her had dug into the skin and ripped it slightly.
She rolled the sleeve back down, picked up her coffee and other belongings, then proceeded to exit the lounge.