You don’t approach Jennifer Enzo, she approaches you. And when she does it’s for one of two reasons: she wants something you have, or you’re on her list.
The list in question has been the subject of urban myth and conspiracy theory for several years. The Wishlist, a collection of names gathered by the Malandanti network and presented to assassins once a year. The handover takes place in a secret location and for those appearing on the list it’s the start of a countdown that has one outcome.
Another rumour has it that no one survives the Wishlist and is accountable for a number of high-profile murders and unexplained deaths: Roberto Calvi, Uwe Barschel, Olof Palme and in 2014, Simon Frenzel, a police detective from Wurth in Germany, working undercover, his corpse left impaled on the spire of Bamberg Cathedral’s Gothic tower.
To interview Jennifer Enzo is an impossible task to plan, but Enzo has one weakness: a desire to portray herself as a fictitious character following a script, governed by destiny, a woman with a pre-determined fate. She’s a fan of cinema, a wannabee novelist and the grand-daughter of a contemporary of Alisteir Crowley.
Arranging this encounter has taken fourteen months, made possible by a painfully slow series of steps beginning with staff at Wurzburg University, associates of former university research fellow Professor Virginia Bruck (herself implicated in a series of killings in Helsinki and Rigolato), and a descent into the darkest corners of European witchcraft and Satanism. A journey of playing catch up, following false leads and arriving at dead ends.
We tracked Enzo from Salzburg to Montenegro, following her footsteps from Glarus in Switzerland to Munich before we discovered someone was tracking us. We were met by a man and a woman and driven blindfolded to an isolated wood cabin somewhere in the Black Mountains of Bavaria.
Jennifer Enzo, known to colleagues as Jenzo, only agreed to meet me after Alien Noise had provided the details of senior members of staff! The risks outweighed the enormity of the scoop. We concluded that the only other people who might interview Enzo would be Interpol agents.
We finally meet for the first time in a freezing woodshed behind the cabin and she disagrees with my assessment of Interpol. “They need to hold someone in a secure location to interview them. I’m not aware of any such location that can hold me.”
Jennifer Enzo doesn’t have the physical stature to match her exploits. You’d pass her in the street without looking twice, and it’s this inconspicuous ability to merge into the background that allows her to move freely, undetected. Living off the grid, communicating – according to that same urban myth – through a network of demons; Enzo is a weapon hidden in plain sight.
I ask if the descriptions boost her ego. “I don’t know. I don’t read what other people write about me. I do my own writing.” She hands me her phone after finding the latest chapter from her in-progress novel The Garden of Galfino. “Read it properly. Don’t skim it.”
I do exactly what she tells me. The Garden of Galfino is a story based on the satyr that lived in the gardens of the Villa d’Enzo on the shore of Lake Maggiore. Galfino grants one wish to everyone who enters his garden. The one exception is Alicia who wants Galfino; rejected by the satyr she plans a way of burning down his house and destroying the garden.
I ask Enzo if Alicia’s intentions are in any way an allegory of her own ambitions. “It’s just a love story. Clever people have a habit of reading too much into things, but I’m just an idiot who acts on impulse. I don’t plan long-term.”
But in the novel Who Among Us… based on real events that plagued Europe between 2008 and 2012, Enzo wishes for the destruction of the world so that she can enjoy exclusive access to it. “So who’s Galfino then? My father’s satyr? It’s a block of marble. He doesn’t say much even if you give him a kick. Mind you he says more than my father. That old bastard manages to communicate by the way he sits in his chair.”
The way Enzo sits in a chair suggests she’s about to leave at any minute. Avoiding eye contact, fiddling with her phone as if she’s about to show you something, short staccato answers before launching into long-winded monologues. I ask if her actions result from her family’s treatment of her.
But her grandmother, Mother Enzo, was an influence was it not?
“She married into this filth, god knows why, but she’s had to live with it. She doesn’t have the Enzo poison in her veins, so she can claim to have hung on to humanity. She’s a cracker. And crackers, come to think of it. She only lives at the house [the Villa d’Enzo] because the climate’s better for her hips. One thing she taught me is to ignore everyone, people form friendships out of self-interest. That’s the nature of the beast. Fuck ’em and look after yourself.”
I try to dig deeper into this misanthropy, but Enzo isn’t opening up. Childhood, schooldays (no one we approached could remember her, and there’s no evidence of school or college attendance in Italy or England). Even her memory of recent events exists in a cloud as if she’s been drunk for several years.
Munich: “Just a fire, people died, it was a rotten hotel anyway.”
Anderlecht: “Nothing to do with me.”
Helsinki: “Ditto. I can’t be blamed for every humanitarian crisis and out of control bonfire. But that’s what happens when populations think they’re above redemption. Blame the bogeyman. Oh, it can’t be our fault because we’re the nice people. We never do anything that upsets people, not ever. It’s always everyone else.” She bangs the table with her fists. “Oh why oh why oh why are the naughty people always trying to do bad things to me. It’s not fair. It isn’t west versus east, secular versus spiritual, dark skin versus light skin, man versus woman, it’s apathy versus action. The bovines will always be eaten by the lions. But humans are not bovines, they just behave like bovines and then cwy and cwy and cwy to their mummies when the nasty wions come and bite their fucking legs off.”
Enzo was part of a trio of assassins that included Shalini Mithra (“Babydoll narcissist, but an amazing sniper”) and Ruby Summers (“Cornish pasty with an imagination as sharp as it was morbid”). I ask if Summers was behind the Simon Frenzel murder? “No. You don’t think I’m gonna confess to crimes, do you? And besides, a lot of conspiracy theorists dine out on that murder every day of the week. They’d kill me if I let the cat out of the bag. What did Frieda Whatsername say in that autobiography? Enjoy the mystery, don’t try to find out how the magic trick is done. We’re versatile people. We’re entertainers and vermin exterminators. We are 21st Century gong scourers. We provide service with a smile.”
She flashes the smile and it scares me to death. There’s something disconcerting about a smile that accompanies violence. It’s easy to conclude Enzo is psychopathic and as if reading my mind she says, “You think I’m a psychopath, don’t you? Because I don’t share your morals, because I don’t think people are the salt of the earth, because I don’t trust people, because I see people as a tedious obstacle to a happy life. . . .”
What would be a happy life?
“Not having to resolve issues. Not having to deal with artificial complications. If people just ate, slept and fucked like everything else we could get on with our lives. I don’t want to be part of his world, but I’m damned if I’m going to top myself to get away from it.” She smiles again and checks her phone. “There are alternatives. There are ways and means. The good thing about me is I don’t discriminate.”
She perks up when I ask her about the witchcraft. I suppose I’m reluctant to mention Satanism. I don’t know why, I think I’d prefer her to raise the subject herself. And besides she has unusual views of her Malandanti employers.
“I was surprised when I saw them fly for the first time. You know all the images have them sitting on their broomsticks, but you’d have more chance sitting on a washing line than a broomstick. Thirteen of them hanging on for dear life like trapeze artists, and these bits of wood burning their hands and leaving them with a rash. I thought that’s not for me. Give me a decent demon any day. This is the 21st Century and those idiots are still getting about on twigs.
“It never appealed to me. It was getting apologetic, all this white witchcraft nonsense. Too many new age types latched onto it for the same reasons our lot were doing it. Two fingers to the church and its corporate corruption. But it didn’t have the edge. Gran had a friend who was a witch and she was as light as a feather, never swore, always on the toilet because of the amounts of chamomile tea she drank. And Gran was out raising hell with the rest of them. I knew which side I wanted to walk on.”
Does she not think that Satanism has its schisms too?
“Well, that’s the kind of unnecessary complications people insist on creating. Church of This, Church of That. They’re like the idiots in Life of Brian. People’s Front of Judea, Judean People’s Front, Popular Front for the People of Judea. They’re children. That’s why we make a point of how we dispose of our clients. Call it uncompromising self-confidence. We’ve got no time for fancy titles. Let your work speak for you.”
At the end of 2014 the Malandanti network was in tatters. The main coven massacred in a devastating fire at a Munich arms fair. Bodies were found in the ruins, bodies that had been ritually killed. Enzo offers to give me the gruesome details. I decline the offer, but she tells me anyway, her eyes bulging, a weird smirk on her lips, someone else’s accent!
“You gotta do it right, you see. Give ’em a good send off like they do it in the woodcuts. One leg up, one leg down, like a sort of vertical hokey-cokey. We strung up ole Eleanor and give her a right good sawin’ fru. . . .”
I ask if she worries about being caught after all the bedlam. “Caught. No. People like us tend to go out in a blaze of glory. And we’re generous. We’re the giving kind. When we go down we’re going to take everyone with us.” She laughs. “Oh gawd, listen to me. I sound like one of those villains who go and on without knowing one of the good guys has sneaked up behind her. The thing is, humanity has passed its sell-by date. History had a way of correcting things with a bloody good war, but it’s all underhand now, you don’t have the worldwide cataclysms like you had in the past. Millions dying in a pandemic or a world war.
“Everything’s rotten because humanity doesn’t know how to keep order. For all our intelligence we couldn’t run a bath and it shows. The rich up there in the stratosphere, the shit down here killing one another.”
Of which she denies any involvement and for the first time begins to grow animated. “You know it pisses me off when people think we’re part of the problem. For years we’ve gone about our business without anyone knowing, and they were happy. We provided a service and life went on. But now they’ve found out and they want all this to stop. Well it isn’t their decision to make. And they’re about to find our world can be very unpleasant. But that’s the decision they’ve made. To interfere. To come into our world. Would you like a glimpse?”
I don’t want a glimpse of Jennifer Enzo’s world, but I know she’s going to show me anyway.
The first sign of trouble is the smell. The aroma documented so many times in the novel Who Among Us… It follows us now as Enzo leads me into a forbidding lightless corridor of trees. There are other footsteps, an awkward crunch of leaf litter and branches. Enzo has an eery outline, like the blue artefacts of a photo taken on a cheap digital camera. And without warning she’s swept off her feet and lifted high into the canopies.
As I stand and stare at her shadowy figure sitting in the nook of a tree I sense a presence behind me, a rush of breath across the back of my head.
Enzo calls down to me. “According to Contorta’s Demonaeus Honorum, a long and actually quite boring book written in the 12th Century, there are eleven million six hundred and forty-eight thousand demons. That’s not counting all the Lost Souls who have perished and ended up deep down below where the sun don’t shine. And they’re coming. Not for a while yet, we need to sort out the logistics. Eleven million is a lot of mouths to feed. But they’re coming and they’re going to clean this sewer of a planet from one end to the other.”
She leaps out of the tree, landing unscathed in front of me. “Dante had quite an imagination, but he was on to something. We’ll have a way of dealing with the corrupt shysters, the perverts, the hypocrites, the urban warriors, the warmongerers and the apathetic, especially the apathetic. Do you know the difference between ignorance and apathy?”
I shake my head.
“I don’t know and I don’t care.” She giggles and steps backwards stumbling on a tree root and falling against the biggest man I’ve ever seen, except he isn’t a man. No man I know has horns like a Bagots goat, or hooves. He is Enzo’a Galfino, Alicia’s uninterested lover, the source of the sulphur choking the forest around us. He embraces her and she almost disappears when the membranes of his wings wrap around her head and shoulders.
“You should get one of these. I can fix it for you. Only takes a day or two, but don’t expect Miss World. Most of the succubus population come from bad backgrounds.”
I want to leave, but I’m not sure of the world I’d be going back to or how long it will be there. There is a bizarre possibility that taking up Enzo’s offer might actually benefit me. She reads my mind again, turning to her incubus and tucking her head beneath his chin. “Little boy’s thinking about it, look. Isn’t that sweet. Talk about taking coals to Newcastle. I could sell anything.”
My hesitation gives the presence behind me time to step into view, both of us watched with fascination by Enzo, studying me as hard as the creature studying me now. It’s female, but more than that I can’t say. Tall, scorched, her skin blistered and ruddy, her horns short, wings broad and leathery.
“Show him what it’s like to fly. . . .” Enzo’s words are the last I hear before I’m catapulted upwards, above the tree tops, our trajectory increasing, velocity increasing, my breath lost, the freezing temperature cancelled out by the creature’s radiating heat. And when we stop climbing I can see the extent of the forest, the mountains, the world glistening unaware of the forces looking down on it and from my lofty position I consider the possibility, the terrible possibility, that Jennifer Enzo might be right.