It must’ve happened the night before, when he was struggling to find a proper amount of meat to leave out, and in his haste he flicked on the porch light.
He locked up the home to find a local market that was still open in the town that lay just a few miles outside of the community.
Usually with a gruff shake of the head, the shack guard reluctantly allows Eli into the community, but today as he stopped at the shack, the man only scowled at Eli.
The man stared at him for a full whole minute, before Eli spoke up, asking hesitantly if he could go inside.
The guard didn’t respond with any gesture or change of expression, but eventually the gate began to lift at its inching pace.
At the mailboxes, Mr. Anderson was standing, almost like he was waiting for someone. Eli walked by him without words to check his box, but it was empty.
When he turned to get back into his car, Anderson held a handful of letters out to him.
“We have community meeting next month.” He said, as if it were more important than the mail held aloft.
“This is my mail.” Eli snatched the letters from his unwavering hand. “This is illegal you know?”
“It only happens once a year. I think you should go.” Mr. Anderson completely disregard Eli’s words, his dark eyes weren’t asking though.
They implored, commanded, that Eli go to the community’s meeting.
“How did you even get past the lock?” Eli asked the question, but decided he didn’t care for the answer.
Instead, he briskly walked away from the man and nearly jumped into his car, turning the engine, and ripped out of the graveled parking lot.
When he finally got home, the light of the blue lantern was no longer shining, but, from the light of his headlights,
Eli could see the window to the front door was smashed in and the door stood ajar.
Eli took a bat that he kept in the trunk of his car out and carefully entered the house, attempting to make as little noise as possible.
Glass crunched under his foot as he stepped through the living room. Other than the door, nothing seemed out of place, but still he continued to survey the entire house.
Making sure to stop at every door and check its interior.
Once he had searched through the final room on the second floor, he let out a sigh of relief at finding no one in the house,
though he wanted to give another surveillance to ensure nothing valuable was missing.
But, just as he was about to place the bat down, he heard footsteps run through the first floor and slam out the door.
Eli ran downstairs and to the front of the house, to catch the intruder,
but once he got outside he only saw a figure hidden by the shadows as they ran through the sparse woods between the houses.
Without thought, Eli called the police.
The local police were sluggish in answering the phone and their receiver was obviously unused to big, immediate crimes, but Eli went through the steps, describing the situation, the glass,
the search, the person. But, when Eli provided his address, the phone fell silent.
“We’ll contact the community guard.” The operator said after a few seconds without sound.
Eli let out a short exasperated sigh.
“Can you send an officer?” He asked, hoping to deal with someone not from the community.
The person on the other side of the phone didn’t answer for a moment.
“The private communities don’t typically allow police in for such trivial matters.” The operator answered carefully.
“They don’t allow it?” Eli was becoming louder. “You’re the police.”
“It’s against station policy.” The man finally settled on his answer, and said it with no option for dissent. “We’ll call the guard for you.”
Then they hung up, leaving Eli on a dead line. He stared on the phone for a long moment, completely confused on how such a situation could be allowed to pass.
The police can’t be not allowed to enter a community, he thought. Someone could be in serious danger. He could be in serious danger.
After half an hour, a rusted, blue, pickup truck pulled into Eli’s driveway, and the man usually stationed behind the guard’s window sat in the driver’s seat,
along with a proper looking woman that Eli had until now never met. They each exited the vehicle and walked up to Eli’s front door, completely disregarding the glass.
“Hey, did the police tell you the situation?” Eli asked as he stepped onto the porch with the two, he turned the blue light back on, allowing the three to see.
Neither answered for a second, instead giving each other a certain knowing look. Then the guard stepped around Eli, and into his house.
Eli felt a certain discomfort with the man just barging in, but by the time he thought to respond, the blue light was already off and the man out of the house, with the door slamming behind him.
“We were informed that you had some vandalism.” The lady spoke up, the dark of night hid her face, only the glint in her eye exposing where she was looking.
“Vandalism?” Eli exasperated. “Someone broke into my house and was doing something in here. They could’ve been stealing, or trying to attack me.”
The man let out a gruff grunt, that must’ve been an excuse for a laugh.
“If they wanted to attack you, why didn’t they?” He asked, and his voice was even more gravely than Eli imagined, and in the dark, it felt like the growl of a beast.
He thought on the question and couldn’t come up with a satisfying answer.
"Listen, boy.” The lady spoke up, and although he couldn’t see her, her voice told him that she was in charge. “This was probably just some rowdy children.
I’m sure they just saw that you had your blue light on and acted out. It could only be expected.”
“Then they need to be found and reprimanded.” Eli sighed. “This will be expensive.”
The lady chuckled herself this time, leaving Eli feeling scorned.
“Be happy that is all they did. There is a time and place for the blue light.” The lady spoke the final words and stepped off the porch, with the guard and Eli on her heels.
Eli nearly chased after the two as they got into the beat up truck and pulled down his driveway.
He yelled after them that they should do something, that someone was trying to get him, but the words were left in the wind.