There are some names you can’t Google. Like Girtolto Wagner, for example.

Try it.

Google will return zero results. But don’t believe for once that not being able to Google someone means they don’t exist.

There are some names that are just unspoken. Names of mythical creatures who live only in murky worlds the rest of us were never meant to ponder. Villains so comprehensively evil, so incredibly powerful, so deeply connected that their real identities are forever erased from the public record. They lead the lives they choose on their terms, under the laws they craft, answering to no one.

Take my new friend, Girtolto Wagner, who’s right across from me as I write this. He’s a few weeks shy of turning fifty-two. Only I and the two people he trusts in this world know this. Everyone else, including the most powerful governments in the world have no record of there ever being a Girtolto Wagner who came to life out of a woman’s womb. Once-upon-a-wretched-time Girtolto had a birth certificate, school and immunization records, a passport, a driver’s license, and even a wedding album (although the remains of his first wife were never found, but that’s another story).

When he turned sixteen, Girtolto’s parents sat him down to let him in on a dark family secret. Now there was every chance he would have been sick to the stomach to learn how both his grandfathers were senior officials in the Young Turks movement, who had played a direct part in the extermination of fifty percent of the Armenian population and seventy five percent of the Assyrian population living under the Ottoman empire.

But to understand what sort of an anomaly he is, know that rather than be repulsed or ashamed of his roots – say, like how his three older brothers reacted – Girtolto was giddy with an almost sexual ferver when he was told his family’s wealth and good fortune came tainted with blood. Oceans of innocent blood. On that day when he realized the devil was in his DNA, Girtolto was reborn. Like he had known it all along, but needed the tiniest of signs to confirm it.

For the rest of his teens until his mid-twenties, Girtolto tumbled from bad to despicable, committing increasingly deplorable crimes, from which he was untangled thanks to his family’s untold wealth, spiraling global connections and litany of lawyers. Sexual harassment? Check. Rape? Check ad nauseum. And endless brazen international financial crimes and rackets fleecing the weak and the vulnerable. Everything he did pointed to one forgone conclusion: Girtolto was dress rehearsing for what would come later.

In his late thirties, Girtolto emerged as an arms dealer. He specialized in instigating incendiary unrest in fragile and volatile societies, to profiteer from the predictable demand for deadly weapons that would emerge from the very carnage he created.

Like his grandfathers before him, Girtolto’s hand was mired in some of the most repulsive episodes of war and genocide in contemporary history. From Rwanda to Sudan, and Bosnia to Syria, his invisible war machine was always in the background clamoring for more brutality, more destruction, and more trampling on the most beautiful things that define our humanity.

And he did it all as a ghost.

You see, there is a reason why you can’t Google a Girtolto Wagner today—he faked his death in a plane crash over the Alps at the age of thirty five, then proceeded to erase he had ever been. “Keyser Söze my ass,” Mr. Wagner would have proudly exalted when he was done dismantling his previous life.

If you are reading this with a news cast in the background of yet another horrific act of terrorism in your city, committed by the rising tyranny of Islamic fundamentalism, know that you are also tuning in to Girtolto’s masterpiece and the crowning achievement of his career as a mass murderer.

Which brings me to the question I know you’ve been dying to ask: Who am I and how is that I am sitting right across from a ghost?

First, I need to give you a more accurate visual: I am comfortably set in a soft armchair made of slink, sipping a cup of the finest Tieguanyin tea, sold by the gram and dearer than cocaine.

Girtolto on the other hand is dangling from his ankles, naked as the day the devil conjured him. When the drugs wear off, he’ll wake up, puke a lot, then stare at me and the world upside down. Sooner or later a question of his own will burn in his consciousness, amplifying the nuclear headache in his head. Which one of the two people he trusted most in this life sold him out, his daughter, or his only surviving brother, and at what price?

I’ll never tell him, of course. I’ll just gingerly prod him to tiptoe his way to hell, forever damned, forever deprived of peace or closure. A filthy rat caught in a trap, about to pay for his sins, is all he really is now. And I’ve got all the time in the world to do it.

To answer your second question, no, he isn’t my first and certainly won’t be my last.

This is what I do.

Now back to your original question.

Who the devil, am I?

Isn’t it entirely obvious?

Think about it for a tad, before exhaling in frustration, expecting me to spoon feed you the answer.

If Girtolto is a ghost, then it takes one to find one.

You just need a little bit of deception.

Terminal deception.

www.terminaldeception.com