I wrote this rambling essay at night some time ago.
Forgive me if it is sometimes a bit lengthy.
Judgment Day was the 20th of April of 1999. It was a sunny day. You would assume that I could not know what the weather was that day but Columbine has been so analyzed to the utmost significant detail that I do know that the weather was warm, charming-looking morning, Brooks in his book says so. That Tuesday was the culmination of a whole year of planning of two boys. If you detach yourself from the gut wrenching emotion of the mass execution, one can see that is was performance art. For a full year they crafted their plan, and how to physically and economically go though it but also what type of people they were going to portray themselves as to the world, well more accurately to the television. “I want to leave an everlasting impression on the world” Eric wrote in his diary, Dylan wrote “My wrath that day will be god-like”. Not only did they crafted their physical plan but also they crafted their characters.
The original plan was to plant the bombs in the cafeteria, there is CCTV camera showing, first Harris then Klebold, both in flannel shirts, placing the bombs in the middle of the room. There were around 500 people. The day before, a witness said that Eric and Dylan were looking around the cafeteria with a paper in their hands, the witness snatched the paper. It was a drawing of the cafeteria. In Eric’s diary there was a “500 +”, that is how many people there were aiming to kill. Thank God, the bombs did not work, but in their minds they fantasized hundreds of people dead. Afterwards the few survivors, bloody and half dead would run out looking for refuge. It would be pandemonium, as they were on top of the hill, in their black trench coats, black military boots, black sun glasses, baseball backwards, two guns for each boy and their designated shirts: “Natural Selection” for Eric and “Wrath” for Klebold. They felt power, they were going to decide who lived and who did not, and they were playing God. This obviously did not work, but if you put yourself in their shoes, it was like a little play, something that they had invested time, effort, money and hours of violent thoughts and emotions. They had thought how events were going to unfold and what their place in it was. They used people like puppets; they pulled the strings of terror and felt powerful for once. Dylan went to eat out with his mother some months before the massacre; he wore his trade mark black trench coat. His mother advised him to take it off since “you are scaring people Dylan”, he smiled. They were sending a message of terror and hate to the world. After gunning down everyone running away from the cafeteria, they planned to go into the school and shoot people. They had a “shit list”, people they were going to target. In their brains already inside their school, firemen, policemen and ambulances were already outside taking care of the dying and counting the dead. At this point they had bombs inside of their cars ready to explode. Even though seniors were expected to park in a special part of the parking lot, Eric and Dylan did not park in their designated spots, but at each side of the cafeteria. They planned to kill with bombs firemen, policemen and medical staff. At this point they knew that TV stations would be there retransmitting Live. Inside of their heads they would have showed the world through TV the terror and wrath threat they had inside. They would be inside the school and they would see everyone die, with the weapon of their choice, they were still playing God. Afterwards they planned to shoot the rest of the living police officers, and at this point there would be absolute pandemonium, all shown live to the world. This obviously did not happen, however they thought that was going to happen, and who would plan in such a horrific act? Seventeen year old middle class white Americans? No, even though that is was a murderous streak in them, they still did not have the power to do it. Dylan had been fantasizing about suicide for the last two years, however did not follow through, he didn't have the guts. Eric was thinking about murdering people, and also hating himself, for a full year, you know this from his diary, maybe even before. However they did it to pump it up. Eric in the basement tapes, the transcriptions shows that he constantly said to Dylan “feel the rage, feel the rage” and Dylan kept on and on screaming like the madman that he wanted to be.
This is how Reb and Vodka were created. They needed larger than life figures to create this large than life act of terror. Columbine ended up as a high school shooting but it was planned like an act of terrorism. Eric wanted to outdo the Oklahoma Bombings, Columbine High School Shooting were initially planned as Columbine High School Bombings. However these two nice kids needed a structure to extract this rage inside of them and create destruction. Eric was that structure with rage and Dylan was the filler with wrath. Their personalities became poisoned with mental illness, Dylan’s diary shows a clinically depressed kid, many psychologist say that he “was losing touch with reality”, and incredibly shy and sexually repressed. Eric’s diary was full of violence and hatred for the world, and also hatred for himself. He wanted to destroy everyone and everything, including himself. Little by little, throughout the year, they created their alter egos, mimicking what they really wanted to be, distorted by their mental disorder. I am in no way shape or form trying to excuse them for what they did because they had a mental disorder, they knew exactly what they were doing; they lied to everyone for a year.
Those characters that they created needed to feed their insecurities. Dylan was shy, Vodka was not, alcohol fueled his mouth, Eric could not express his hatred for the world, Reb was free to end the school, bomb, shoot and destroy it. Their insecurities needed to be balanced out by their alter ego, they needed to boast about things that they so much desired but never were. They played their characters very well. First of all the nicknames, nicknames are fairly common. Many artists create alter egos to become interesting and enhance their artistry, such as David Jones becoming David Bowie then becoming Ziggy Startdust, they do this to be brave in the face of rejection, to hide their true normal boring selves. Nicknames are also used in menacing ways, such as Stalin, real name Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, the unprouncable tongue twister for Westerners; he knew that “Stalin” meaning Man of Steel would be intimidating to all his enemies. Lenin’s nickname because a way to hide from the Russian Tzar and authorities, in a way Eric and Dylan were hiding their flaws and inhabiting a larger than life persona. Eric and Dylan wanted to enhance their evil art of killing with their nicknames; they wanted to convince themselves that they were rough, tough and all powerful, or to use words more to their liking, god-like. Eric was a loser with women, he dated Susan around 15-20 times and by her own account they did not even kiss, maybe a chaste kiss at most. Eric had a genetic chest deformity, Pectus Excavatum, he got merciless mocked for it by other boys, especially in gym class. He had surgery to correct his deformity twice in his early teens. In writings he stated that having that surgery made him be more appreciative of life that he could not even laugh after the procedure. In Eric's medical records it was surprising that he had gone 11 times to the doctors for his legs; this is in between being born and the age of two. He went 5 times and in his medical records report as “unspecified”. It is not farfetched to think that early physical damage or short comings will forever scar a person. Also Eric being the son and grandson of men in the army, manly testosterone fuled men, and the brother of an “all American boy” deemed perfect by their parents, it is perfectly reasonable for him to feel inferior or inadequate. I have no doubt that being mocked about a genetic deformity was no doubt the reason that Eric was so interested in natural selection, survival of the fittest. He was lying to himself, he lied by saying that he was stronger and better designed than other men, even though he had been born with two genetic deformities, this is no doubt a copping mechanism to deflect from the insecurity that a indent chest deformity and a leg problem had in his psychological growth as a small child until the day he died. We know very little about his leg deformity and since when he grew up we have no evidence that he limped or that he had difficulty when he walked i suppose that it was not serious. But as a child i am pretty sure that the idea of being born "wrong" or "inferior" to other did not amuse Eric. Also his parents are not, in a million years going to tell us exactly what happened to him regarding his legs, therefore we just have to guess. Eric was a kid that moved around the country many times, never growing significant roots, also being the last one in the social ladder. Eric needed his older brother, Kevin to make friends, he said so himself in an essay for class. Eric was shy and withdrawn in comparison to his brother; teachers that taught them both said so. Eric was self conscious about his size; in his web page he said “weight” as his insecurity, he was 5 feet 9 and 135-140 pounds according to autopsy. However Reb was not like that. Reb was everything that Eric wanted to be. Reb was sadistic, cool-headed and rational. Reb was not self conscious about his genetic disorder, Reb allowed Eric to be cruel to others and therefore vent his frustration that he was not genetically perfect at the same time that he ranted over survival of the fittest. Reb was Eric’s alter ego to cope with the massacre. Reb was above all powerful. I am not saying that Eric was mentally scarred by killing people, he was not, but he needed to feel the power he never felt, he needed to create a character in order to follow through their plan. Dylan was incredibly shy. Dylan, according to his friends was scared of girls. He was completely head over heels in love with a girl in school; they had not even spoken to each other. He wrote a letter to her but did not have the courage to place it in her locker, as was the plan. The letter started like this: “I, who write this, love you beyond infinice”, the last word making no sense at all, was interpreted by the psychiatrist of the FBI as a sign that Klebold had, among many other signs, Schizotypal personality disorder. Making up words and bizarre syntax is a sign or confused and scattered thought process. Dylan felt he was out of control; it did not surprise me that he wrote in his diary “bondage extreme liking”, even in sex he actually wanted to have the whole control, it is unclear if he wanted to overpower or to be overpowered. Both were sexually frustrated. Dylan bottled up all his anger, his rage and his depression but not Vodka. VoDkA was pure emotion, uncontrolled and sadistic rage. Vodka could let rip, vodka could vent his feelings with Reb, Vodka had founded a person that was not going to let him down. Dylan felt that through Vodka once he could let all those feelings out. Dylan was not a brave boy but Vodka with the help of Reb, not Eric, became courageous. When the bombs did not explode, Reb doubted the plan but not himself, Dylan doubted himself not the plan. Vodka was too volatile to even doubt himself. Their newly crafted personalities were essential to follow through the plan.
Bullying was, of course another incentive to change. As they morphed into Reb and Vodka, they wanted to defy the bullies by becoming them. It has been recorded that Dylan, I am not sure if Eric was involved, was pelted with tampons with ketchup on them. He wore his shirt with red stains all day and then told his mother as he got home that it had been “the worst day of my life”. He by nature of his personality bottled all up and continued with his life as if nothing; however this is something that must have error his patience. Eric was mocked by his height, 5 feet 9, while Dylan being 6 foot 4 and all his friends being over 6 foot. His genetic deformation did not help his self esteem. Both were hopeless with girls, Dylan being scared of them and Eric having no charm. Susan a girl that dated Dylan a few times and Eric between 15 and 20 dates said that they were “weird” and “awkward”. Eric announced in his diary that he wanted to “trick” a certain girl from gym class, since her legs in a specific type of shorts made him “drool”. Raping women with force was a fantasy of his, he also aspired to “getting laid” since he thought “that would change things around here”. He did not ultimately succeed in that endeavor; he went out with Susan some days before the massacre, I am no doubt that he tried hard to have sex with her, he failed at that. Dylan was shy, extremely shy, Vodka was not he screamed and called Val a “bitch” as she pleaded for mercy and he told her to “shut the fuck up”, although he was incredibly cruel to her, he ultimately did not shoot her. Of all the 5 people he killed only one was a girl, so his sexually frustration did not really come through. Dylan and Eric were at the bottom of the pole, yes they did have friends however they were called “fags” and thrown around by jocks, which wore white hats, and Eric shouted that as he entered the library, “Everybody wearing white hats stand up”. Dylan roared “Everyone stand up! NOW!” revenge is a feeling that they rejoiced in and becoming more menacing but being a stronger, evil version of them was the way to go in their heads. Reb and Vodka manufactured themselves to a certain degree to terrorize and bully what they thought that was bullying them as a whole, the school not specific people.
Eric’s personality as Reb was fully formed before Dylan’s; this could be because his personality is more assertive. However it is incredibly interesting that the last step of Dylan becoming Vodka was written down. He wrote a piece for Creative Writing class the 7th of February of 1999, two months before the attack about a 6 foot 4 inches left-handed, gunman, dressed in black, shot and killed “preps”. It was so vicious; full of profanity, that the teacher did not grade the piece and wrote down that the assignment had to be discussed. The paper was so disturbing that it was sent to the school counselor that did not found it, surprisingly enough, troublesome. The teacher informed Dylan’s parents on the paper that he had written and how awful it was but at in end, the paper was not shown to them. Dylan told his parents that it was “just a story”. We can see this as a cry of help, or we can see this, and I certainly think is this way, as a last step into madness. Dylan was writing the full fledge fantasy that he had in his head. The paper is written both from the gunmen’s point of view but also a witness point of view, this bizarre technique is more evidence that he was in the dissociative stage of his perceived, but pretty accurate, mental disorder Schizotypal. The gunman is obviously Dylan, or to be honest the man that he wants to be, but also the witness is him as well meek, mild and anxious. This is the final step, from an emotional point of view that he was making to prepare himself for the shootings. He was fully Vodka not Dylan anymore. The man was unwavering, decisive and sure of himself, nothing like the real Dylan. The physical description fit him like a glove and they way he interacted with people it the same as he wished it was in real life, with power and arrogance. The metamorphosis was complete and he was socially competent enough to elaborate his plan. In this piece of writing, there is an eye catching quote “Yet, the comment I remember the most was uttered from the smallest of the group, obviously a cocky, power hungry prick”. Jeff Kass wrote of Columbine a true story, suggested that the person alluded in the quote, either consciously or unconsciously was Eric. This was the first time that it was been written down that Dylan had come kind of aversion to Eric, even though this is all speculation to be it makes sense to a certain degree and in the fantasy world in my mind it is extremely funny that Dylan was secretively bitter towards Eric, this is obviously a scenario that I personally find funny. He also quoted the gunman had the expression “face an emotion of god” and said “I understood his actions”. He was exorcising himself from being good old Dylan, ad became vodka. After the massacre Dylan’s parents read the paper and obviously became distressed about it. The paper was found in Dylan’s car and since the bombs did not explode I am pretty sure he read it, fantasizing about his alter ego, someone he wished he could be. He read it to pump himself up for the task, that piece of writing had an emotional impact on him and I am pretty sure he was quite proud of it. In the 911 call he is heard, clear as day roaring from the hall “I’m coming!” and when he arrived in the library he was screaming more than Reb, as Vodka he screamed “You are all mine” in a devilish voice. He was writing the type of shooter he wanted to be.
Their costumes were also part of their performance. Everyone, after the massacre, was asking themselves, why did they do it? Why did they kill so cold heartedly children that they knew? However the reasons were extremely easy but also extremely hard to understand. Easy answers because it was all explained on their T-Shirt. “Natural Selection” in black letters printed on a white T Shit for Harris and “Wrath” printed in red on a black T Shirt for Klebold. The complicated part of their costume was how to interpret it; this was later revealed when their diaries were released to the public, as we read what they really thought their minds, their T Shirt made sense. Natural selection came from the feelings of superiority and disgust that Eric had for the world. He thought he was better than everyone else more evolved, smarter and therefore felt disdain for all of the other humans, “kill human kind” was written in huge letters in one of the pages, in another page he suggested that he would like to fly a plane into a building, this was written in 1998. Dylan with “Wrath” printed across his chest was telling the world the anger, frustration and hate he had for the world, but also and most importantly, himself. The hate that Eric felt was for the world, he also hated himself as well, since he said he picked on people that reminded him of him and Dylan hated himself for a long time and therefore, slowly he started to hate the world for not loving him, for not including him. In addition to their T-Shirt were the black cargo pants, full of pockets that would hide homemade bombs and Molotov cocktails. Their guns swung across their chest under their black trench coats, backwards base ball cap for Klebold, sunglasses and military boots for both. For their senior year everyone said that they got “darker”, not even the way they dressed but their emotional outburst, Eric said to give people this menacing glare, and facial expressions, everyone said Dylan was always sneering. All throughout their senior year, they slowly morphed and knew that they had to work themselves up to the level required to defy the world. They knew that that day, Judgment Day, people would be watching. Eric quoted Shakespeare on mother’s day in his journal “Good wombs hath borne bad sons”. Eric had a good narrative up and running for a while, he had been Reb for a while, in work he was referred to by his nickname not his real name. One of the workers actually learned his real name when he was Eric on TV as they were reporting the shootings. He therefore encouraged Dylan to become Vodka, this I might add, is not a sign of unwillingness in Klebold part, but a part of his personality. Dylan was not a man of action, however if he was offered the option he would take it, and he did feel like it. After all there is a huge misconception of Dylan. There is hard evidence that the first one that wrote anything about killing people in school, in their diaries, in real life conversations is impossible to know, was Dylan. He wrote in 1997 “Maybe I should get a gun and go on a killing spree”. This is the first sign that we have of either of the two suggesting to murder people. He said that maybe he would get together with a certain girl and “go NBK”. Their costumes filled the role to appear more dramatic, menacing and also to give them confidence that they so clearly lacked.
Their diaries are incredibly important because those writings show the world their true feelings, unfiltered and, especially for Dylan’s part, fully himself without censoring his feelings because of his shyness. Eric put would lie and put on a display or charming and respectful young man but his journals showed him fully fledged evil. It must be said that Eric left his journal for people to see, he was, for lack of a better word, coming clean in who he really was, he wanted to come across to the world as a macho and alpha male, I think that this diaries are to be interpreted within a context, I think he full of hate for himself but wanted to convince everyone that he was strong, including in his diary. However Dylan was the opposite, his diary was a collection of pages, never a full diary; however it is a full two years, Eric’s just one year. Dylan comes across as his true self; he expresses deep emotions and secrets that he would have never given up willingly. “My humanity has a foot fetish and bondage extreme liking”, this was one of the most bizarre lines that I read. First of all he would have never in a million years told the world that he was sexually attracted to feet and even more that he was attracted to control and power in sex. Second his weird sentence structure makes Peter Langman, FBI psychiatrist, ponder that he is “losing touch with reality” since his wordage and syntax is extremely unusual. This boy that was so tormented and so fragile, a boy that was so shy and afraid of women, needed some kind of alter ego in order to do such a thing, he needed support from Reb, not Eric, and to convince himself for a year that Vodka would do what he cannot.
Their true personalities and the relationship that they had with each other came through during the 911 phone call. The recording contains the long and agonizing six minutes of the leaked assault on 12 students. Eric was like a stoic solider, rational, assessing the risk and downfalls of his decisions. In the recordings even though he did shout and curse, he jumped on the bookshelf, his voice was full of a calculated rage. He turned his rage on and off, like a faucet, he screamed in the most demonic voice I ever heard to Cassie, “die motherfucker” and shot her and killed her, then he became silent again. He then walked around pacing; he was examining the situation and calculating who was going to die, playing God. This level of cool headed demeanor is outstanding in a high pressure situation, also you have to contextualize that this was their dream, you would expect a person to be excited about fulfilling his life’s dream to be a bit more exited, but Reb came across as the one providing structure and rationality. Vodka, on the other hand, like always, was a live wire of pure hate and emotion. He wanted to die for so long that he had no regard for his life, he had already convinced himself of that, so he disregarded others lives and dreams, because he had none. He wrote in his journal “Happiness is ambition”, therefore he could not be ambitious. Reason that even though he had had excellent grades as a child, in high school his grades did not show his full potential. Vodka terrorized them all, being crueler than Reb taunting people for their physical appearance. As he entered the library he screamed “you are all mine”, connoting he had always yearned for control of other people, his “bondage extreme liking” is making sense now. Maybe his anger comes from this inability to cope with unpredictable situations. Screaming his head off and laughing whole heartedly as Eric shot them but he also shot them too. Their personalities came as a hurricane and created a malevolent force of nature, in the killing spree Reb needed encouragement to “feel the rage” in an uncontrolled and animalistic way and Vodka provided that and Reb provided structure and an outlet that Dylan had never had, and most importantly courage to follow through. However as we have seen Vodka was fully born by himself with no help of Reb, Dylan wrote about him as he fully blossomed and took over Dylan in English class.
It has been corroborated that Dylan entered the school and yelled at the top of his voice “Today is the end of the world. Today is the day that I die!” their alter ego had been completely and fully morphed into his personality, the hype and the adrenaline that he was feeling was needed in order to kill himself, a fantasy that he had been on his mind for the last two years. He needed to grow into Vodka, and leave Dylan behind for the chaos of the shootings in order to feel fearless and powerful, Vodka with help of Reb, gave himself the power to go through with his fantasies. Reb killed himself first, around 12:08pm April 20, 1999. He bit he barrel of the gun and shot himself through his skull with his sawed off gun. He literally shot his head off, his skull was blasted away, actually in the library photos that were leaked, we can see Reb’s right eye outside of his right socket, and this is the power of the gun he shot himself with. Beside Reb, Vodka on the floor dead, had let a Molotov cocktail, exploded and as the sprinklers went off, he rested the barrel on his left temple and shot himself through the skull, the bullet coming out through the right side, splattering his brains around him. Then fell on top of Eric, part of his brain on his right pant leg, then according to the autopsy report he could have been "capable of involutary movement". In the autopsy it was postulated that Dylan died drowning in his own blood, Patrick Ireland said that he heard someone coughing, he was sure it was a male since it had “a deep voice”. Both of them died as Reb and Vodka, violent, sadistic and fully deranged.
It is a personal sad feeling that I have toward Dylan; he had suffered all throughout his life, with his clinical depression in addition to him being rejected by the girls that he loved and suffered so much for, his family loved and truly looked out for him, but he did not perceived it like that. He wanted to kill himself for two years and suffered greatly for a long time and even at his time of dying, something he had truly looked forward to, he died in such a horrific and painful way, drowned in his owned blood.
The media actually helped them coming across as they portrayed themselves to be, with the unclear messages that they told their audiences. Goths, Trench Coat Mafia, social outcasts and bullied troubled kids were what they told the nation. They believed all their lies, they conveyed them as murders without conscience and dangerous individuals. Reality was much more complicated. Police and the SWAT team failed completely to react, the killers committed suicide between 12:08pm and the SAWT team got to them and their victims in the library 3 hours and 15 minutes late. Brooks Brown parent’s said that a door of behind of the building was open and no police officer or SAWT team entered the building. In their defense they thought that there were snipers on the roof of the school, that there were four men in the school that confusion came from the fact that Eric and Dylan took their trench coats off and therefore policemen got the message of four suspects, two without trench coats, and two with them. However apart from that they have no excuse. Columbine was until that point was the worst high school shooting, and from Columbine policemen were trained to act quicker and with more force.
Even though they tried to mask their true personalities, after years or research they did not succeed. However even their façade was part of their personalities, Reb and Vodka was missing parts in the hole that they lacked. They knew that people would be watching, they wanted the world to watch them. They hid their true self with nicknames, menacing glares and killer clothes, they were hiding their weaknesses. Eric’s chest deformity, Dylan’s crippling shyness, the character that they invented was all part of the performance. In a way they succeeded, even though they did not kill as many people they wanted, they are the blue print for all high school shooters than came after them, many of them admiring them, and others want to outdo them, society generally hating them, which is exactly what they wanted. They changed American culture forever and succeeded in their goal of ending their emotional suffering and becoming infamous. Just like Eric said "I want to leave a lasting impression on the world".
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.