I’m a writer and ghostwriter. Some projects require research that includes going through old pictures. One such project was with a client who was the last of her bloodline. She was 91 and told me, “These are for you. Maybe something in there,” she pointed a gnarled, crooked finger at the stacks, “will be useful in writing my story.”
That night I found this photograph. On the back, in ink so faded I had to get my big magnifying glass out to read it, was the date April 30, 1932, and underneath in faint blue ink was the word HEXENNACHT in block printed capital letters. The broad smears of dried reddish-brown beneath that looked like the letters H a r z.
I called her to ask about the photo.
“I thought my mother burned it.” She said.
“What does it mean?” I asked. At first, she didn’t answer. It was so quiet I thought we’d been disconnected. No, the call time counter was still running. It was now nearly 9:12 pm. I heard her take a deep shuddering breath.
“Come see me in the morning. I’ll tell you everything.”
The next morning, I arrived as they were taking her body out of the apartment she had lived in for 32 years.