“Without a doubt, Wyatt Duvall was probably the most sinister man that has ever lived.”

— Introduction to A Serviceable Villain: The Lives and Times of Wyatt Duvall by Buck Sparkman

Without a doubt, Wyatt Duvall was probably the most sinister man that has ever lived. Puppies whimpered at his touch. Babies bit their mother’s teats when his name was uttered. Green fields turned to superfund sites wherever he stepped.

But Duvall didn’t content himself with the common deeds of the common evildoer. Yes, he buggered street urchins, dissected biology teachers, and dropped Canadian coins into terminal-cancer gas-station donation jars. But his ambitions were always greater and his misdeeds more poetic than the follies of mankind’s ultimate evildoers. While most of them were content to crush bodies, Wyatt Duvall was concerned with destroying far more — minds, manners, faith in the monetary system, the music of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

Wyatt Duvall understood a truth that most terrorists failed to grasp: Lives didn’t have to be lost for terror to be inflicted. Fatalities should be avoided at all costs. In the business of fear mongering, death was a waste of one’s target demographic. At heart, Duvall was an ad man, and the only good he sold was misery.

The random email. The newspaper article. The Facebook post. Fact, fiction, rumor, innuendo, fake news — it didn’t matter. The suggestion of danger was all that it took to inspire panic, hoarding, the uncontrollable urge to buy a Honda generator.

However, Duvall knew that sometimes a suggestion was not enough. Sometimes action was necessary, even if the act itself was an illusion. Over the course of his career as a villain — and make no mistake, he viewed his work as both a job and a calling — Wyatt Duvall broke countless laws and caused the suffering of thousands, if not millions. Occasionally there were casualties — some intended, others not — but Duvall was never the type of psychopath who longed to bathe in the bloodshed accolades of newspaper headlines, true crime novels, and episodes of 48 Hours Mystery. This may be difficult to understand for those who lost a loved one as the result of Wyatt Duvall’s misdeeds. Make no mistake, Wyatt Duvall’s success, if you can stomach calling it that, was built on the corpses of thousands, and in the case of his mansion in the mountains of Western North Carolina quite literally so.

Now there are those some who will defend Duvall’s actions, most notably the members of the Slumber Party, an organization that he once led to political glory but which ultimately erased him from all party literature in the years following his absence from public life. But these sad individuals are acolytes to a fallen idol. They are unrequited lovers of a past that will never return. They are captives of diseased nostalgia and sufferers of mildewed dreams. And if you see them on the street handing out Slumber Party Flowers and Slumber Party Pillow Cases, do not turn around. Do not cross the street. Do not step into a store. If you do, you can guarantee you will be followed, and you will be stalked, and your life will become a living hell. Simply place your hands palms together to the right side of your face, tilt your head, close your eyes, and snore as you walk by them. They won’t necessarily assume that you are one them. They just want to be reminded of the power they once held.

Even as I write this, the youth of Americans are once again wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Slumber Party sheep, pillow case flags can be found hanging from lampposts in nearly every major city in America, and twitterfeeds are peppered with the group’s mantra: “Wake up America. The Slumber Party wants ewe to sleep.” For them, Wyatt Duvall was a performance artist, a merry prankster along the lines of Andy Kaufman, Joey Scaggs, and Dr. Phil. For them all the world was merely a stage in the evolution of Duvall’s art, and it was just by chance that all of us were merely players in his most celebrated exhibition. That these children ignore Duvall’s villainy is clear proof that even today far too many people are unable to tell the difference between the crimes he committed, the hoaxes he crafted, and the horrors he unleashed.

Truth be told, no good discussion of the 21st century can take place without some discussion of the man known as Wyatt Duvall and the role that he played in shaping it. The terror of our times, while not created by him, was surely twisted by his manipulations.

Oddly, very little is actually known about Duvall the man. In many ways, his life was just as illusory as one of his many pranks. Yes, there are countless anecdotes from former colleagues, prosecutors, police officers, and victims, but Duvall himself was a man of few attachments.

Of the friends he had, the men and women with whom he worked at Diversified Solutions, most disappeared shortly after Duvall perished in a fire at one of his many Wyatt Sheets Laundromats. The authorities reported that the fire was so hot that all that was left of Duvall were two teeth and a charred leg bone; the three were found inside of the burned out husk of an industrial dryer.

But while Duvall’s associates, like Jay Hamilton, Jenny Hills, Timothy Long, and Sally Duvall-Hamilton, may have disappeared without a trace, rumors circulate that Wyatt Duvall himself emerged from the shadows on Jan. 20, 2017, the day that Donald Trump became the president of the United States of America. For many, it was a day of fear, but it was a fear misplaced.

While President Trump was delivering his speech on the Capitol steps, his teleprompter was briefly interrupted. At first, Trump thought it was just a glitch. A bug. But then he realized it wasn’t.

Even today, you can watch the heavily criticized speech and see the exact moment that Trump read what many believe to be Wyatt Duvall’s final message. In that moment, Trump pauses, the words uncertain. He tries to speak, but his voice is shaky, and so he pauses again. And in that brief pause you can see the fear in the man’s eyes. The master had called. And he had left a message.

The biggest hoax in American history had just begun. And Wyatt Duvall was the man who would write it.