A Tinfoil Spaceman's Message of Doom
"Who can not be crushed with a plot?"
~All's Well that Ends Well, Act IV Scene 3
Everyone seems to have a theory to explain the UFO phenomenon based on their own interests. Crazy people believe crazy things. Less crazy people believe in things that are not quite as crazy. That’s just the way things are. I’m not here to point fingers. Personally, I think that, when it comes right down to it, there’s a whole spectrum of explanations, and all of them are based on human weaknesses. Some people report interactions with space aliens because they want attention, or to start a cult, or to make money with books, or are weak headed enough to convince themselves of something. There are as many explanations as there are personalities. But there’s one group I’ve spent relatively little time looking at in the past: people who get tricked and then their lives fall apart.
Take, for example, the sad tale of Jeff Greenhaw. In 1973, he was both 23 years old and the chief of police in the thriving metropolis of Falkville, Alabama. On the night of October 10th, he started his duties as he did on any other day, totally unaware of the horrors that he would experience at 10 o’clock that evening.
A woman called to claim that she had seen a spaceship landing in a field near her home. Greenhaw, depending on which report you read, either grabbed his camera (or not) and jumped into his truck (or car) to investigate. At first, he found nothing; the field was empty. Driving down a nearby lane, however, he saw a creature that would later take on the embarrassing name of the Tinfoil Spaceman.
The creature was about the normal size and shape of a human being, but was covered in some sort of bright, shiny material. Somewhat like “rubbing mercury on a dime,” and Greenhaw later claimed he was fairly sure it wasn’t plain old tin foil.
Here’s where Greenhaw distinguished himself from other people that encounter space creatures from beyond the moon: he took a photograph of the thing. It’s dark, and blurry, but you can just barely make out a wrinkly blob of vaguely human proportions.
Apparently, either the flash or the truck headlights startled the creature, which took off running across a field. Greenhaw, of course, gave chase, but the lousy terrain limited his speed to a mere 35 MPH. The creature moved “side to side, like a robot,” whatever that means, and quickly outpaced the automobile, disappearing into the nighttime mystery from whence he had appeared.
I say this every time something like this happens: if you spot a space alien, and you’ve got a gun, light the creature up like a Christmas tree. Put that 5.56 or that 7.62 right between his eyes. You want a picture? A picture of a dead space monster is just as good as a picture of a living space monster. If only he had allowed a hot hollowpoint to do his evidence collecting instead of a photograph, Greenhaw could have avoided a great deal of misery.
I think that different reports confuse the issue, but if you take them all to be accurate, he underwent a catalogue of misfortune. The town for whom he worked decided that a man in league with space monsters from beyond the moon was unfit for a respectable position and fired him. His wife left him. He received threatening phone calls and was laughed out of town. His trailer home burned to the ground under what UFO enthusiasts are quick to call “mysterious circumstances.” His car exploded. It’s like the story of Job, except with more space monsters and fewer Naamathites.
Despite the fact that there seems to have been little to no research on the subject, theories abound on exactly what occurred. Clearly, since a photograph exists, this is a genuine case of extraterrestrial contact. Well, maybe not so much. The photo is terrible, and doesn’t show anything that I wouldn’t be able to fabricatae at home in under an hour. It’s a shiny, wrinkly, person-shaped blob. That doesn’t mean, as some have claimed, that alien spaceships are manned by robots and that, for some reason, one of the robots decided to come have a look at one of our fascinating earth-fields.
The other leading theory is that someone did this as an act of sabotage against the goodly policeman. Some nebulous conspiracy knew that if Greenhaw reported seeing a space monster, he’d be thrown out of town, and that would fit their nefarious scheme, somehow. Perhaps they wanted his job. Or his wife. Or his trailer.
There are too many holes in this theory. How did they know that Greenhaw would bring a camera? How did they know he just wouldn’t shoot the creature? How did they know what road he’d drive down, to get their ersatz space monster into position? How did the monster outrun the car? Was the woman who called in the report of the flying saucer landing in on the scam? What’s the deal with Greenhaw’s house and car exploding? So on and so forth. This theory, while it makes the UFO enthusiasts a lot more sympathetic what with the discrimination, public hostility, and irrational hatred, but it just leaves too many questions unanswered.
There’s a third possible solution: Greenhaw was in on it. A very short time before this incident, two fishermen in Pascagoula, Mississippi, were abducted by wrinkly-skinned, eyeless, carrot-nosed creatures. They became instant celebrities, nationwide, despite the fact that their tale is one of indescribable madness. This version explains why the creature was able to out run the truck (it didn’t), the origin of the monster (a friend or dummy), and why he didn’t just shoot the monster in the face (that would ruin a perfectly good dummy.) It doesn’t, however, explain the woman who called in to report the UFO landing; but since no report that I’ve seen mentions the woman’s name, I don’t know whether there’s any proof other than Greenhaw’s word that this call actually occurred.
The point is, I’m not trying to accuse Greenhaw of anything. When it comes right down to it, this is a completely meaningless case. On paper, it looks great: a respected community member in a position of authority, multiple witnesses (the tipster that saw the UFO), and photographic evidence make this as strong a case as could possibly be assembled. Instead, it sits in obscurity, and I can’t even find an original version of the photo. UFO enthusiasts occasionally try to use it as an example that they are a persecuted people; this was a single incident, and the alien-abductees-was-discriminated-against theory is just weak speculation anyway, leaving that a pretty specious conclusion to draw.
Whatever the truth, the Tinfoil spaceman left Greenhaw’s life a terrible mess. Whether he was an innocent victim or he got what was coming to him certainly doesn’t change what happened, and what happened doesn’t change anything.
Be seeing you.