Dylan's prom group arranged for a limo, too. Robyn Anderson drove out to pick him up on Saturday afternoon. They shot pictures with his parents before meeting up with the five other couples to head into the city. Robyn wore midnight-blue satin with cap sleeves and matching opera-length gloves. She'd curled her hair in long blond ringlets, swept forward to bounce across her low-cut square neckline--a suburban variation on the classic Pre-Raphaelite style. Dylan was giddy and beaming getting ready, all cleaned up for once, working to make everything look just right. He tugged his shirt cuffs down, straightened his tuxedo jacket. He'd gone with a traditional black tuxedo, bow tie slightly askew. A small splash of color lightened up his lapel: a pink-tipped rosebud with a tiny ribbon the color of Robyn's dress. His hair was slicked back into a short ponytail that kept giving him grief. He had shaved. His dad followed him around with a camcorder, capturing every move. Dylan looked at him through the lens: Dad, we're going to laugh about this in twenty years. They rode downtown in a big honking stretch with tinted windows and a mirrored ceiling. Whoa! Dylan held Robyn's hand and complimented her on her dress. The first stop was dinner at Bella Ristorante, a trendy spot in Lower Downtown. It was a fun time: jokes and horseplay with table knives and matches, pretending to light themselves on fire. Dylan devoured an oversized salad, a big seafood entree, and dessert. He gushed about the upcoming reunion for kids from the gifted program in elementary school. It would be fun hooking up again with the childhood smarties. Dylan had volunteered to use his Blackjack connection to get some pizzas. They finished dinner early. Dylan stepped out for a cigarette. He asked his buddy Nate Dykeman to join him. It was cold out, but nice anyway--a little quiet time, away from all the commotion. Great food, great company, first time in a limo for both of them. "Everything is going perfect, as planned," Nate said later. Nate was even taller than Dylan, six-four, and considerably more attractive. He had classic features and dark, heavy eyebrows that accentuated his piercing eyes. They talked more about reunions. Everyone was scattering for college. They talked about Dylan heading down to Arizona and Nate across the country to Florida. Nate wanted to work for Microsoft. What would they accomplish before reunion time rolled around? They tossed around the possibilities. "No hints whatsoever that anything could possibly be wrong," Nate recalled later. "We were just having a great time. It's our senior prom. We're enjoying it like we should." The short ride to the Design Center was a blast: hard rock jamming from the speakers, an adrenaline rush while they riffed on one another. They made fun of pedestrians, flipped them off at random. Nobody could see in; they could see out. What a riot. Dylan was in a great mood. We've got to stay in touch, he insisted. This group was too fun to let go. ____ Eric pressed his luck. He was crazy for a prom-night date, but he waited till early evening to call Susan. He was confident. Girls liked him. He asked her to come over for a movie. She swung by around seven. His parents had just left, out to dinner to celebrate their anniversary. Eric wanted to show Susan Event Horizon, a low-budget gorefest about a spaceship transported back from hell. It was his all-time favorite. They watched it straight through, then sat around his basement bedroom talking. Eric's parents came home and went down to meet her. It was lots of aimless chitchat, like Eric's dad telling her he got his hair cut at Great Clips. They seemed friendly, Susan thought. They all got along well. After Eric's parents left, he played her some of his favorite tunes. It was mostly banging and screaming to her ear, but then he would mix in some New Age stuff like Enya. He put his arm around her once but didn't go for a kiss. He did lots of thoughtful things, like offering to warm up her car when she had to get home. She stayed until eleven--half an hour after she should have. Eric kissed her on the cheek and said good night. ____ Prom was the standard affair. They crowned a queen, they crowned a king, Mr. D breathed a sigh of relief that they had come through it alive. Dylan and Robyn had fun, but joy wasn't really the objective. Prom was more about acting out some weird facsimile of adulthood: dress up like a tacky wedding party, hold hands and behave like a couple even if you've never dated, and observe the etiquette of Gilded Age debutantes thrust into modern celebrity: limos, red carpets, and a constant stream of paparazzi, played by parents, teachers, and hired photo hacks. For enjoyment, someone invented afterprom. Peel off the cummerbund, step out of the two-inch pumps, forget the stupid posing, and indulge in actual fun. Like gambling. The Columbine gym was outfitted with row after row of blackjack, poker, and craps tables. Parents in Vegas costumes served as dealers. They had ball-toss contests, a jump castle, and a bungee cord plunge. It stayed active till dawn. Afterprom had its own theme: New York, New York. Some parents had built a life-sized maze you had to follow to get into the school, and the entranceway was festooned with cardboard mock-ups of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Some of the boys barely saw their dates at afterprom. Some didn't have one. Eric joined Dylan and his limo group. They spent hours in the casino losing fake money. Patrick Ireland hung out nearby. They never met. Dylan kept talking about college, about his future. He kept saying he could hardly wait.