Longform

Doom Rules

Page 9 of 14

The more time you spend in each other's company, the more enemies you seem to have. Other kids call you faggots. They misunderstand. What you are is a two-man terror squad.

"Ok people, im gonna let you in on the big secret of our clan," Reb writes on his Web page. "We aint no god damn stupid ass quake clan! We are more of a gang. We plan out and execute missions. Anyone pisses us off, we do a little deed to their house. Eggs, teepee, superglue, busyboxes, large amounts of fireworks, you name it and we will probly or already have done it. We have many enimies in our school, therefor we make many missions."

In your junior year of high school you embark on several nighttime raids. Both you and Reb have curfews, but your parents are busy people and it's easy to sneak out. You drive to Wyoming to load up on fireworks, extract the gunpowder and make pipe bombs. You set them off in the fields and ravines surrounding your parents' stunning house in Deer Creek Canyon. The secret is exciting, in part because you share it. It's one more wedge separating the "gang" from everyone else.

In January 1998, the two of you are caught in a field with stolen electronic equipment. This is your first encounter with the legal system, the world of adult laws and adult consequences, and it's a joke. You enter a diversion program, write a letter of apology, pick up trash for no pay, pee in a cup. You are polite to the judge and feed your folks some corn syrup about how much you're learning from all this. Your probation officer sees you as a dreamy slacker who just needs to get cracking: "Dylan is a bright young man...if he is able to tap his potential and become self motivated he should do well in life."

By senior year, the amount of time you spend with Eric Harris would be scary, if it didn't seem so right. You share four classes, work together at Blackjack Pizza, make videos, go bowling and spend long hours on the computer together. Your attachment to him creates inevitable conflicts with your other friends, many of whom you've known much longer than Harris, a relative latecomer to the south Jeffco scene. When you must choose between them, you choose Eric.

Many of your friends are getting into dating now, getting serious with girls. It's one place you can't follow. This social stuntedness is another quality that the two of you share, that isolates you from the rest--but at least Reb had a girlfriend once, before the gang of two was formed, a girl named Tiffany. (When Tiffany broke up with him, Harris staged a fake-suicide scene for her benefit.) You can't score a date to save your life.

A platonic friend, an honors student who likes you so much that she bought guns for you, pleads with you to take her to the prom. Your parents offer you $250 to go. You agree. For a few hours you're in the social whirl, and Eric Harris is nowhere to be seen. He shows up later, at the after-prom party, with no date.

There is no escape from each other. With all that you know about each other now, all that you share, how can you go your separate ways? People want to say that Eric Harris is the problem. They don't get it.

Graduation is the problem.

Shaking his head, Randy Brown flips through the paperwork connected to a complaint he filed with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department against Eric Harris more than a year before the shootings at Columbine. He points to an Internet address the deputy wrote down incorrectly and to a street address for Eric Harris that's also wrong.

"This shows how little they investigated this," he says. "We thought this was serious. We changed the exterior lighting on our house because of this. The detective didn't do his job. How big a red flag does a professional need?"

Brown's story, which he has repeated patiently to reporters from around the country, poses an uncomfortable challenge to school and law-enforcement officials. How could they fail to recognize that Eric Harris was dangerous, Brown wonders, when he brought a bundle of red flags to authorities months before the massacre?

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast