Dylan was unlikely to hook up with another kid wallowing in self-misery. Eric radiated confidence, charisma, and the vision of a glorious bloody way out.
I have often wondered why Eric even recruited a partner. Their writings indicate that Eric sought out the arms, collected the ammo, researched the big bombs, built all the pipe bombs, drew up the plans and diagrams, conducted the reconnaissance, calculated how to maximize the body count, cooked up batch after batch of failed napalm and, generally, devised the plan. What exactly did he need Dylan for?
To carry one of the duffel bags and shoot additional people? Couldn’t Eric have coaxed his buddy into dropping a duffel bag in the cafeteria without mentioning the propane bomb inside? Didn’t he have enough firepower with his two guns to kill hundreds? He could have killed far more than 13 people if he focused on work instead of laughing it up and gabbing with his partner the whole way through.
Which is the nub. The shooting was superfluous anyway — it was to be dwarfed by the bombs. The shooting was supposed to be the fun part. “Have fun,” they wrote on the schedule for their last act.
Almost 14 years to the day after Columbine, I would say Dylan’s main purpose in the whole tragedy was for Eric to have fun. What’s the fun of a shooting spree on your own? And more important, how does it entertain you the entire year leading up to the attack?
Serial killers don’t space out their murders for efficiency. They do it to maximize enjoyment. Death and torture are the amusing parts. They want to relish the screams over and over. They want recognition. They sometimes assist the police investigation, not to get caught, but to toy with the cops, and to sneer at them.
Sadistic killers who go the event route, as with Columbine, need to plan for months, and they are hungry for satisfaction during that planning period. When you only get one bomb blast, the thrill of the plot is everything. Dylan offered Eric a highly intelligent audience of one. They were laughing for month after month at the fools missing the plot unfolding right under their noses.
The boys videotaped themselves at an afternoon of target practice with several friends six weeks before the attack. They shot up a bowling pin and then a tree trunk, “Imagine that in someone’s f---ing brain,” Eric said. They all laughed, but only he and Dylan got the real joke.
Months it went on. An entire year of satisfaction. None of that would have been possible without one hapless follower in on the joke.
That’s how dyads typically operate. Whether that model ends up fitting the Boston massacre is something we may discover soon.
Dave Cullen is the author of “Columbine.”