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I love to ride my bike along the country roads of a tiny town called Three Oaks, in Michigan. On a recent Saturday, my wife was working and I had nothing to do, so I strapped my bike to my car and drove the hour to Three Oaks. I parked in the scenic downtown area, and then rode out of the town and into the surrounding countryside.
As I wound my way deeper into the remote countryside, houses, businesses, and even cars grew increasingly scarce. Eventually, there was only an occasional house every half mile or mile. Flanking the dirt and gravel roads that I peddled down, between the occasional house, were vast corn fields and small thickets of trees.
It's on one of these back roads that a minivan drove past me. Within moments of it passing, it turned around pulled up along side me. I looked over and the passenger, a woman in her mid to late twenty's was looking at me with her window down. The driver, a man of seemingly the same age leaned over the passenger and said to me in a slight southern drawl and with a big smile on his face, "Hey, do you know David Crist?" I thought for a brief second, but I don't know any David Crist, so I said so. The driver said, "You don't know of him at all?" I said that I didn't and apologized, and then pedaled on. The van sat for a moment and then pulled a u-turn and drives off in the direction they were originally heading.
I thought nothing of the encounter. Maybe the driver was a friend of David Crist, and he thought we had met through David or something, I don't know. At the time, I didn't think I had any reason to worry.
I continued on my ride, turning down this road and heading north, and then turning down that road and heading east. I didn't have any agenda for my ride. I was just out to enjoy the summer day and meander through the relaxing countryside.
Maybe ten minutes later, I was on a different road and heading a new direction and I saw the van again. We were heading toward each other, and I gave a smile and nod as I passed the driver, I remember thinking it was an odd coincidence that I should come across this van again. He had a big smile on his face as he drove past.
At this point, I began wondering what these people were doing. They might be lost, and looking for this David Crist guy, or maybe they're just enjoying a scenic drive and thought I looked like a friend of a friend, or something. I didn't know, but at that point I was starting to think about the situation.
I continued taking a twisting, turning, meandering path. Taking this road, and then turning onto that, heading north, south, west, east.
Then, I came across the van again. Again, they're heading in the same direction I was and I pulled along side them, the driver rolled down his window and leaned out. He was a late twenties white man, with a few inches of a goatee and a baseball cap. He had a large smile plastered across his face.
I stopped my bike and looked at him, waiting for him to say something, and he just looked at me for a good thirty seconds. Thirty seconds doesn't sound like a long time, but you go flag down a stranger and then just look at them for thirty seconds, and you'll realize that in that kind of situation, thirty seconds is a lifetime.
Finally, he spoke and said, "Hey, do you know David Crist?" This time there was no smile on his face. He stared at me, and I was thinking to myself, "Is he joking. Does he really not remember he asked me this same question twenty minutes ago? Is he just being funny? Is he high as hell?" After a moment, I told him that I still didn't know anyone by the name of David Crist and I pedaled off down the road.
It's at that time that I realized exactly in how remote of an area I was. I peered down the road and didn't see a house on its entire length. I was flanked by a corn field on one side and a forest on the other. I looked over my shoulder and saw the van slowly driving down the road away from me. It couldn't be a coincidence that I came across this van three times not with me taking roads heading different directions. It made no sense. The only thing they could have been doing was just driving around, but why would they stop me and ask that same question? It was quite strange, and I was beginning to become a little concerned.
I began to head back toward the town center. I pedaled hard, and the gravel road ahead of me had a bend to the right, and a dirt path, it couldn't really be called a road, to the left. As I neared the fork, the van came around the corner. I gripped my pocket knife, which I always took with me on those kinds of rides -- just in case -- and then realized all they would have to do is run me down with the van, and I would be in serious trouble.
As the van drew closer, I was ready to jump off into the cornfields. The van slowed down as it approached me and the driver rolled his window down and leaned out again, but this time I didn't stop riding. I increased my speed, even though I knew I could never outrun the van if they gave chase. I looked over my shoulder and saw the van sitting in the middle of the road. I took the right fork and continued on the gravel road until I could no longer see the van and then I stopped.
I got off my bike and crept along the cornfield until I was at its edge and I peaked down the road I had just been on. The van was in the distance, driving away from me. I ran back to my bike, and then as soon as the van was entirely out of sight, I turned around and took the left fork along the dirt path. I rode as fast I could, knowing that if the people in the van had nefarious things in mind, and that they caught me on this first path, flanked by cornfields and far from an area that anyone would come across us, that would be the time they attacked.
My ruse worked, or perhaps the van was never after me at all, and I made it the rest of the way to the town center without seeing them again. When I got home later that day, I was still replaying the events in my head and the name David Crist kept creeping through my mind. Was David Crist someone famous, I wondered, like a musician? Should I have known David Crist? I decided to Google the name. I tried a couple of different spellings for Krist, but it the Crist spelling that revealed a chilling result.
I came across a newspaper article from Knoxville, TN. The article explained how a man named David Crist had turned himself in after stabbing another man at a gas station in 2013. The article included a photo of this criminal David Crist, and it was the man driving the van. Add a baseball cap and a few inches of a goatee and it's the same man. I did an inmate search of the Knox country prision and there was no David Crist in the inmate population.
Somehow David Crist had gotten out of prison, in less than two years after stabbing a guy and he had made his way to Michigan. Maybe he was never convicted, as I couldn't find any articles about sentencing.
Why was he driving along these back roads? Who was the silent woman in the passenger seat, and why the hell did he keep asking if I knew of him?
Do I know David Crist? Yes, I do now.