In the middle of the night, I woke up to a loud noise. Grammy and I ran to the front porch. A car had crashed into a telephone pole. Grammy told me to go back inside. “Right now!!!” When I woke up the next morning, the car was gone.
Several years ago I bought the photographic archive of Bob Boltz, of West Bend, Wisconsin. Boltz’s primary subject was car crashes; the shots were taken at night. Almost none of his pictures showed the people who’d been injured. Their absence is a haunting reminder of the couple who died outside Grammy Keaton’s home all those many years ago.
Boltz’s nighttime photographs have a richness similar to that of 1930s black-and-white crime films. I like to think he may have been an admirer of movies like Scarface, with Paul Muni, and The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney. Each car is lit with a nightmarish, chiaroscuro quality. His framing matches the technique of horror and suspense films in which shadows provide gloomy details of the surroundings. The photographs remind me of genres where light and dark represent good and evil. This book is a hymn to unsolved mysteries discovered in the dead of night.