David Stoltzfus put his rented 2001 Trailblazer Chevrolet in neutral and pulled on the handbrake. He switched off the SUV killing the hum from the engine.
The drumming headache from last night's excesses slowly faded and he got out of the car, which had several Hertz rental stickers on it.
He had had the SUV for around a month, even though he was 23 he had not driven a car before. He had passed his driver license just four weeks ago after an intensive two week theoretical and practical course with Jack Drummond, the local driving instructor in Lancaster.
David had quickly gotten use to the car, but the thrill of driving, which he had been looking forward to, was to his great disappointment already fading.
He stuffed the car keys into the pocket of his modern jeans; the first clothes that hadn't been handmade that he had worn, that he, so full of expectations, had bought in a clothes shop in the state capitol of Pennsylvania.
He thought that the pants were a little tight and he considered changing back into his usual lose sitting dark blue pants that his mother had sewn for him and that he felt so much more comfortable in. He adjusted his suspenders and tucked the muscle shirt into his pants. The armless shirt showed his biceps that were well athletically proportioned like the rest of his body, trained by all of the hard physical work at home on the farm.
He crossed the road stopping a few feet from the two-storey dorm building that was his temporary home close to the center of Philadelphia. The entrance was blocked off with crime scene tape and there was an ambulance and three police cars all with lights flashing.
Beside the cars two cops were talking to a young man, who David thought was called Chris, who resignedly shrugged his shoulders.
One of the cops was writing in his notebook whilst the other was giving the guy a piece of paper and apparently explaining a route or so it seemed to David as he was pointing down the street.
The guy nodded and clearly annoyed began to go in the direction that the officer had indicated.
David passed the ambulance and the cop cars approaching the two officers. "Excuse me, but I live here!" he said in a polite low voice pointing to the grey dorm building in front of him. His head ached still. "What has happened in there?"
One of the cops took a step forward placing himself between the tape and the entrance and David to indicate that he should stop. "A young woman has been found dead in there!" the cop answered expressionlessly.
David stared speechlessly at the cop. "What did you say?" he blurted chocked. He didn't know that many of the residents in the dorm personally as he had only lived there for about a month, but he had a rough idea of who the others were. He was therefore curious as to what was going on. "Who is it?"
The second cop also took a step over to David and calmly looked at him. "It is nothing for you to worry about sir", he said quietly and more politely than his partner, "but you say that you live in there?"
David nodded. "Yes I live there!", he answered keen to be allowed to enter.
The cop took out his notebook just as David had seen earlier. "What is your name?" he asked jotting it down when David answered.
The other cop took out a piece of paper and gave it to David. "Unfortunately you have to go to the station to make a statement!" he said pointing in the direction of the street. "The station is just around that corner two blocks away, on the right. Here is a map with the route plotted on it!"
David took the paper and looked at it. It was an aerial photo of the local area, the route to the police station was clearly marked. "Can I change my clothes first?", he asked. His new jeans were annoying him.
The first cop put his arm in front of him. "No, you need to go to the station right away!", he said in a cold uninterested voice.
David instinctively retreated a step. "Okay, sorry!", he said politely as he stared unwillingly towards the station.
A low building allowed the afternoon sun's late summer beams reach him causing him to squint as the sharp light hit him. His freshly cut, blond hair seemed to shine in the sunlight.
He went to the corner indicated and turned at the high building which rose several stories blocking out the sunshine, throwing David in to the shadows. He looked down the street and could vaguely make out the police station a way down the street.
Normally he avoided the police and all other forms of authority, so it was not with the greatest enthusiasm that he trudged towards the station. He couldn't work out why he needed to make a statement to the police, but as he had been raised not to question he had little choice but to obey orders.
He walked slowly passing more skyscrapers, he went to great lengths to avoid bumping into the other pedestrians on the sidewalk and despite the short distance he was obliged to step aside giving way to stressed business people clutching attaché cases and other busy city dwellers at a more leisurely pace.
He was very impressed by the pulsating big city life, but it was no longer so alluring since he had had the past few weeks to experience it.
David stopped waiting patiently for a green light at a crossing to reach the police station on the other side of the busy street. He observed several other pedestrians who didn't have the same patience as him, they crossed despite the red signal causing several drivers to brake and honk their horns. This action often resulted in shouts and gesticulations from the pedestrian as if it was the driver who was breaking the law.
David was puzzled by the lack of respect people had for each other. He had learned to always be helpful and never to put himself first, but here in one of Americas big cities it seem that his upbringing was more the exception than the rule. He began to long for home, his church, which was essentially the point of his stay in Philadelphia.
The lights changed to green and David crossed the road to the police station that, despite its four stories was dwarfed by the surrounding tall buildings. He opened the door and entered the building. He stepped into a small room with a reception desk to the right and benches, an elevator and a passage to the left.
He approached the desk where a dark, extremely annoyed receptionist was ordering a seemingly drunk older man about. "Sit down over there and wait with the others." She virtually shouted at the man and pointed towards the benches where there were about a dozen other people.
The older man hiccupped and staggered over to the benches leaving the receptionist free.
David went over to her and looked at her shyly. "Excuse me miss!", he said courteously, "I have been asked to come here in connection with the death at number 12 Pier Street!"
The receptionist looked through him and took a bite of a muffin. "What's your name?" she asked chomping.
"David Stolzfus," David answered, "with a zee!"
The receptionist cast a fleeting glance over him as if to say that she knew that, pressed a blue button and repeated his name into a microphone that was sitting in front of her mouth. She glanced at him again and finished his name sulkily "With a zee". She then pointed towards the rows of benches where the drunk had also been sent. "Sit over there and wait to be called!"
David nodded politely. "Thank you so much miss!", he said as he turned and walked over to the benches. He could see the man who he had seen talking to the cops in front of the dorms, the guy he thought was called Chris.
David walked slowly towards him and noticed that he was listening to another man. David sat in a vacant chair to their left and listened to their conversation.
"I am not sure Chris", David heard the other man say, confirming that the guy he knew was called Chris, "but Jimmy said that Mellissa found her on the bed. She had been raped and stabbed; there was blood all over the room. Mellissa almost fainted when she discovered poor Celine. People came running into the room when she started to scream. Jimmy was sitting in the common room when he heard Melissa scream, he was curious so he followed the sound that lead him to Celine's room; there were already several people gathered. He could tell that there was something terribly wrong and when he noticed the Bible verse on the wall, probably written in Celine's own blood, he nearly fainted too!"
David closed his chocked eyes.
He knew the murdered woman.
Chris had in his excitement moved to the edge of the bench, and was now sitting with his head turned towards the other person, who was obviously telling him what he knew about the situation that had brought them all to the police station. "What was the Bible verse?" Chris inquired with eyes agog.
The other guy leaned back. "Something from the New Testament about going away and being separate!", he explained. "I have no idea what is means, but it is clearly some kind of nut job who had done this!"
David, who had been listening to the explanation, was shaken that Celine, who he had spoken to many times at the dorm, apparently had ended her days in such a terrible, tragic way. He had been drinking with her last night. Just a few beers, but seeing as though he had never had alcohol before it was enough to make him black out, therefore he couldn't remember the whole evening.
A nagging feeling grew in him that made him forget his drumming headache for a while. He was convinced that he hadn't caused her death though.
He had so far no intention of getting involved in the two man's conversation, however when the stranger, who was unknown to David, mentioned the familiar quote upon which David and his whole creed based there way of living, he felt he was duty bound to butt in. "Excuse me but the quote is from Corinthians two, chapter six verse 17!”, he cautiously said, whilst hiding his horror at Celine's fate. "It is quite rightly a verse from the New Testament, it reads: Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate!"
Both men turned their heads in amazement and stared at David who they hadn't noticed before now. They briefly looked at each other and the stranger rose threateningly. "What the hell has that to do with us?" he said with an unfriendly tone. "Are you sitting there listening or what?"
David looked down at the tiled floor frightened, he didn't see Chris gesticulating convincingly calming his irascible companion. "Relax Mike!," he said, "He's ok. He wouldn't hurt a fly!"
The agitated person who Chris had called Mike sat back down on the bench. Chris gave him a hard, but friendly thump on the shoulder and he let out a surprised grunt.
Chris turned his attention to David, who was still staring at the floor. "Don't take any notice of Mike!", he said kindly, "It's just hot air. What is it that you are called?"
David looked up slowly. "David!" he answered almost in a whisper so as not to provoke Chris' buddy.
"Forget it David!”, he said smiling, "Mike won't do anything. Tell us what you know about that Bible verse we were talking about!"
David coughed and looked uncertainly at the two men, who stared interestedly back.
At that moment a door in front of them flew open and a uniformed cop stood in the opening with a piece of paper in his hand. "Mike Michaels, Bryan Patterson, Chris Tennant and David Stoltzfus!", he read. "Follow me please!"
David stood up with the two men.
A small guy, who was probably Bryan Patterson, passed them and stood beside the cop.
"We will talk to you as a group first, then we will take you alone, finally we will take blood and tissue samples!", the cop explained. "After that you are free to go. You are not here as suspects!"
"Great!”, Mike Michaels said uninterested. "Why the hell are we here anyway?"
The cop ignored the snarky remark and waved the four young men in to the room.
David felt that the stupid remark made his toes curl.
He could never speak without respect to another person, neither an authority figure, his friends, family nor strangers.
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