“He died right here,” the old neighbor called out to Tessa as she passed by the empty house.
“It’s why you’re here, right?” The neighbor said, “You want to know how he died?”
“Who?” She asked, nonplussed.
“Jordan Nash, the football player they murdered while walking his dog.”
Tessa furrowed her brow, yet something pricked at her memory.
“Jordan Nash, yeah,” Tessa mused, “but that many was years ago.”
“He won two Super Bowls, y’know. But he never let fame get to him. Never moved out of his house, though he had boatloads of money. Used to walk his dog every night.”
Tessa let the old man reminisce. He had that faraway look in his eyes and the distant voice that came from a long-dormant nook in his memory.
“You a reporter?” He returned to the moment.
Tessa shook her head.
“No, I live in the house behind this one. Just moved here.”
“Oh, have you met Minnie?” He asked.
“His widow, she’s a kind lady. She’ll tell you all about it.”
Tessa gazed at the old neighbor, confused. She thought the house was empty. It looked abandoned with the overgrown grass, rusty gate and shattered windows. An old faded ‘For Sale’ sign stood in the front yard, creaking in the wind that blew down from the mountain.
Tessa chose this small, middle-class neighborhood because of the mountain, the peace it brought so far away from the city center, and its affordability. No one told her this was where the famous quarterback, Jordan Nash, had died.
Tessa wondered whether the widow was alive, entombed in that ramshackle house.
A car pulled up beside them, and a young woman climbed out.
“Dad,” she called to the old neighbor, “you all right?”
“Yes,” he said smiling, “I was telling this young reporter about Jordan Nash and how he used to walk his dog every night.”
Tessa nodded when she caught the woman’s eye.
“He would whistle, one long, then two short whistles. That’s how he called to Prophet, his basset hound. He was the best dog. We all loved Prophet.”
The woman turned to Tessa and said, “I’m sorry, he’s…”
She trailed off when the man interrupted her, “I told her she should speak to Minnie, she would be glad to talk about her husband.”
“Dad,” the woman said, “you know Mrs. Nash moved out a long time ago. We said goodbye to her as the moving van drove away, remember? Jordan Nash has been dead for at least four decades.”
“No!” The old man gasped, “Have they caught the killer?”
“They never found out who did it, now come inside.”
Tessa said goodbye as the daughter coaxed the old man into their neighboring house.
That night, Tessa sat on the back porch, enjoying the warm summer evening. The moonlight silhouetted the dark mass of the deserted house whose backyard bordered her own. Tessa laid her head back in her lawn chair and listened to the crickets’ joyous chirping.
A long whistle sounded through the night, followed by two short chirps.
Tessa opened her eyes and wondered whether the old neighbor was playing a prank on her, but decided against it. He seemed to be adrift in the mind’s ocean of the long-ago. She surmised that, to him, only a few days had passed since the murder.
Tessa finished her lemonade and entered her house. She turned the garden lights off, checked the locks on all doors and windows, and headed upstairs, switching lamps off on her way.
Her bedroom faced the back, and through the window, she saw into the overgrown yard of the quarterback’s house. The full moon shone its radiant silver light upon it, and Tessa thought it seemed eerie.
The long whistle followed by two short chirps sounded again, and a dog barked.
“Prophet!” A man called, “Come on, buddy, let’s go!”
Tessa stood motionless by the window. Her heart beat in her ears. Were the neighbors pranking her?
A shot rang out through the night. A dog growled, but went silent as another shot thundered. She heard footsteps running on the sidewalk and glimpsed a shadowy figure as it ran between houses.
Tessa dialed the sheriff to report a shooting. When she stated her location, the deputy paused.
“Are you near Jordan Nash’s old house?” He asked.
“Yeah, I bought the house behind it, the backyards abut each other.”
“Did you hear a long whistle, two short ones, then a dog barking?”
“Yes, I think the dog’s name is Prophet, the man called out to it. One shot, the dog growling, and another shot. Afterwards, there were running footsteps on the street.”
“Yep,” the deputy sighed, “happens every night this month. Ol’ Jordan ain’t at rest. If you ask me, the wife did it, but we never proved it. She’s the only one that hated that dog, and the only one cold-blooded enough to kill it, too.”