" Columbine was a ricochet you could hear coming in reverse. Rewind counter-clockwise to April 20th, 1999 12:05 pm.
A shotgun jumps into the head of Eric Harris, his skull flies back together like a jigsaw puzzle made of splattered blood and shards of bone. His brain swallows up the hole, his eyes unclench, buckshot sucks back into the barrels as his finger peels off the trigger. He centers the sawed-off between his knees, debates whether to use the SWAT Team for target practice or cheat the city out of revenge. Eric counts his classmates lying in shattered heaps, his only regret is the explosives that sit mute under a cafeteria table. Sirens ring from the outside, fading into the distance.
Dylan rises from the dead as his jaw reattaches to his head.
Eric’s 9mm inhales a blast of smoke.
Dylan fixes his stare on a girl he used to sit behind in Algebra class, her bloodshot eyes reflect back without blinking.
Eric uncocks the pistol and his words flip back to say “Helen you see I.”
Eric hands Dylan a pistol with two bullets left in the clip. He slides the gun into the holster. They stand in the wreckage it took two years to plan and 41 minutes to execute.
It’s 11:34 am.
A nine millimeter slug rips out of the wall and flies into the heart of the last student deflating his lungs as it passes.
Eric and Dylan’s cackling laughter rushes down their throats, as students rise up hands covering their faces. 911 calls revert to dial tones.
Shattered glass reforms and fire alarms silence themselves.
Smoke clears the air as crippled cheerleaders stand up and return to walking to their next class.
The religious become atheist as prayers to God fall back to Earth.
It’s 11:18 am and no one is dead yet.
Fast forward to April 20th, 1999 I was just another waiter hiding scars under his sleeves. I was holding the tray watching the freeze frame of somebody else’s school in the SWAT team’s sniper sights. The battered boy in me, now past every beating, was pumping his fists.
I was a temp-job nobody taking orders from the grown-up version of the guys who used to slam my head into lockers. When I heard the storm of shell casings raining on a Formica desk…
I thought somebody stole a script of my fantasy life and made a movie without me on the set.
That night I bought a bottle and made a game out of taking a shot every time they said “Gothic” or “clad all in black”.
I imagined every one of my bullies staring down the business end of a rifle.
I staggered drunk through my apartment and slurred over my daughter’s crib, “They did it! Somebody finally did it!”
As if their victory made up for my years of defeat.
Until her mother hissed at me through the dark, “How would you have felt if your daughter was at school that day?” All I could say was, “I wish the killers would save one bullet for me.”
If someone in my high school would have died every time I had a homicidal impulse the graduating class would have been me and the kids in E.S.L. Back in the day, I carried a box cutter under my belt like a security blanket.
Back in the day of razor blades and meat cleavers, when my teachers ignored every S.O.S. I carved on my chest.
I wasn’t old enough to understand that your agony doesn’t make you original and that living is the best form of revenge.
But in the end, that’s what it all comes down to: using homemade Napalm to blow your own life out of proportion.
I know what it’s like to want to die so bad your hands shake, to go to high school rallies and imagine whole rows of faces blown away like one big red wave.
I know what it’s like to want your cafeteria to be held in a cloud of gunpowder, to be a 12 gauge David spitting buck shot at Goliath.
You can only be fed gasoline for so long before you decide to burn your name in their heads.
But what these child killers who kill children fail to realize is that the world is so much is so much bigger than your little hell hole of a suburb. A week before Dylan Klebold’s massacre his father drove him to Arizona State University where he was scheduled to begin in the Fall, pursuing a degree in Computer Science.
The Thursday before a shotgun cleaved his skull in two, Eric Harris was refused by a Marine recruiter because he was taking psychiatric medication for an obsessive compulsive disorder.
5 days later, they were both dead.
I imagine Eric and Dylan as twenty-something’s meeting for drinks in a small town bar, Eric all puffed up from boot camp and Dylan showing off his new website. Weddings and children on the way, I imagine them lifting up a pint and laughing at their hit lists in high school and how close they came.
And here I am on a frozen Spring day watching two teenagers burn their names into newsprint.
They’ll never be anything else.
It’s 11:15 am.
Two 20 lb propane bombs sit silent under a cafeteria table as students put their sandwiches back in lunch bags.
Sprinklers dry off the lawn.
Math problems go out one ear and into the other.
Words disappear into the teachers’ pens.
Attendance sheets and chalkboards go blank.
Two students stand outside their high school wearing trench coats.
They both completed anger management classes.
They are model employees of Blackjack pizza.
The breakfasts their parents made them is still digesting in their stomachs.
In 3 months they will graduate and never have to set foot in this school again.
Eric and Dylan click their guns on safety. They lower barrels glinting in the falling sun. Summer is still waiting for everyone. A student stares at the wall and wishes he could speed up the arms of the clock. He feels like high school is going to go on forever.
It’s 11:00 am. Class is just beginning, and …no one is dead yet. "