copyright © 1996 Todd Ristau

The Putnam Parallelogram

(In the dark a television monitor crackles to life, bathing the theater in a blue glow. It illuminates a nervous man holding a TV remote. He hesitates, and then begins to nervously address the audience.)

My name is Todd. I’m going to tell you something. Something that happened to me on my Summer Vacation….about 25 years ago. I had a job that summer at the State Historical Society in Davenport, Iowa, working in the basement sorting and cataloging archived materials. Each summer the interns and temporary employees like me went in to try to make a dent in those materials.

You can’t imagine how mind numbingly boring this job was...or how skull crushing the mildew induced sinus headaches can get.

That’s maybe why I did it. The one truly interesting thing I found I stole.

It was a box full of folders documenting something called the Putnam Parallelogram, Iowa’s answer to the Bermuda Triangle. It seems that more than eighty farm vehicles, cars, trucks, and small airplanes have vanished into thin air since 1945. More than 700 lives have been lost over the last twenty-six years alone, without a single body or even a piece of wreckage having been found.

On October 5th, 1945, six combines and their operators vanished simultaneously, leaving only their tracks in the cornfield but no other trace. The editor of The Putnam Post wrote that "The missing farmers may still be here, but in a different dimension of a magnetic phenomenon set up by a UFO." The County Sheriff, put it more simply, "We don't know what the hell is going on out in those fields."

There was a newspaper clipping about a researcher named Dr. K.M. Schaefer. He was summoned to Des Moines to brief the Governor on his theories on the missing farmers in the summer of 1963, but was found dead in his station wagon in Fayette County Park. The exhaust pipe had been connected by a hose to the interior of the car. The paper said it was suicide-that he’d killed himself because he couldn’t bring himself to tell the Governor it was all a hoax.

I might have believed that too, if I hadn’t found this.

(He removes a 16mm film can from his backpack and holds it up.)

It was a can of old black and white 16mm film with sound, and it had a masking tape label on it that had just one word.


I knew a guy who was into movies. His name was Scott Hart. We’d made some super 8 films with our Star Wars figures and scratch built models. His dad was a photographer. We snuck into his dad’s office and watched the movie. What we saw scared us shitless. We didn’t even talk about it afterwards….He’d probably kill me if he knew I was telling you now.

But I don’t care anymore. I can’t keep this secret. I’ve converted the film to video and I want to share it with you. I don’t want to be the only one who knows anymore.

(He turns to the TV and clicks PLAY on the remote. We see a grainy black and white image of a man in bow tie and fedora. He wears round glasses and is very agitated. This is Dr. K. M. Shaefer. He is being interviewed by a larger man with a crewcut. The seal of the Governor of Iowa is on the wall behind them.)

Q: How long have you been observing the Putnam Parallelogram?

A: For more than 18 years. Ever since the first combines when missing. You know, you hear about this sort of thing at parties, but you can’t lose sight of the fact that there were people in those machines. People that have never been found. I will not stop trying to find a way to bring them back to their families.

Q: Has there been a notable increase in the number of UFO sightings in the area?

A: No, but that answer might be misleading. I believe the craft are able to "cloak" themselves from human sight and block radar detection. Further, to say that there is no increase is not to say there are no sightings at all. The area was already famous for its UFO activity. There have been many sightings of aircraft we know are not really airplanes. Police Captain Dan Delmonico, a calm and well respected member of the law enforcement community, made two almost identical sightings while on duty last April. His radio calls are a matter of public record. Both times he reported a "fat cigar with rounded ends" rushed past his patrol car, and estimated the size of the craft to be about 150 to 299 feet long. He chased them and clocked their speed at 70 miles per hour. I myself have seen a similar craft land in a corn field and from the object, a team of small humanoid figures wearing blue uniforms emerged to take samples of the flora and fauna of the field. Two years ago, a bus full of school children and the driver saw a flight of about a dozen UFOs streak across the Iowa sky.

Q: We have some film footage of some "strange objects" Dr. Schaefer, can you talk us through these?

(on the screen some UFOs are shown)

A: This is an Amish farmer named Johannas Sebastian Kleiderheimer. He was able to capture these images with a hand held camera-you see the spherical object dangling in mid-air, the wobbling you are noticing is the craft riding on fluctuating magnetic waves. Truly, truly remarkable.

Q: Do you think that UFOs are behind the missing farm vehicles?

A: Without question. And the Government knows about it too. You know, it is no coincidence that these things, the Parallelogram, the Bermuda Triangle, and UFO sightings all seem to begin in the year 1945.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Truman, Eisenhower. The bomb. The end of World War II. We made a deal with them.

Q: Them?

A: The aliens. They were helping the Nazis, but we cut them a better deal than Hitler was willing to offer. We signed a treaty exchanging the right for them to collect samples of our people and technology for the secret to the atomic bomb and other alien devices. After the war, everyone who had been connected to the exchanges came together. It didn't matter about flags, by then. What mattered was getting ready to bite the hand that had fed us.

Q: I'm still not sure I know what you mean.

A: Why do you think Germany and Japan are our allies now? Because we beat them? Those people are not the kind to simply roll over and say "you got me." They know we face a common enemy now and all the greatest minds are working feverishly on that problem. You wait and see, we'll be doing some pretty amazing things derived from back-engineered alien technology. We'll have lasers and invisible airplanes and computers you can fit on your watch in the next thirty years.

Q: What, exactly, do you believe is the connection between UFOs and the Putnam Parallelogram?

A: I believe that the power of magnetic fields can transform and transport matter from one dimension to another. That UFOs come into our dimension and then exit with human or other collected samples.

Q: Scary. But, why Putnam?

A: Why not? It could be that Putnam is the site of an ancient sacred temple or power station. Maybe they are interested in our advancements in agriculture and the cultivation of food. We have no idea what their needs are. Perhaps they need new sources of food on their world. That's the central problem! They know everything about us, and we know nothing about them. That should scare the hell out of you. That's part of why it is so important to get some of our people back from them, so we can get more information.

Q: What can we do?

A: Call or write your senators and representatives here in Iowa. Call the Congress. Call the White House. Demand to have the truth be made known. Write a letter every day saying "Enough secrets! Tell us the truth about the deal with the aliens." If enough people want them to, they would have to make a full disclosure and give up the idea of "plausible deniability." But people are afraid of being labeled a "kook" and don't want to have a file with the FBI. Well, wise up, people, you already have a file with the FBI. Mine indicates that I'm a patriot! Wise up, America! DEMAND TO KNOW THE TRUTH! YOU WERE SOLD AS A PEOPLE FOR WEAPONS TECHNOLOGY THAT WILL NEVER LIBERATE YOU FROM THE TRUE OPPRESSORS!"

(Dr. Shaefer looks surprised and the screen goes to static. Todd resumes speaking to the audience.)

I know. It’d be easy to accept Dr. Schaefer's rants as evidence of a mind sadly unhinged, but many of the things he predicted have come true. Maybe he was right about the other stuff too.

Are people being kidnapped and taken from Earth with the full knowledge and blessing of our own government? It is a question too important to be afraid to ask. We have a right to know.

(TV off, end of piece)


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'd "returned from Chicago" and thought returning to No Shame might help me find the will to live. I took this old Third Eye Over Iowa story and adapted it as a TV thing, running the tape through a black and white TV and recording it with my camcorder to created a deteriorated final version after several generations. I played my self and KM Shaefer, Fred Norberg played the interviewer. It ran long, I didn't realize that No Shame in '96 was so strict about the time limit. The tape was about 11 minutes long, so I can't really blame them for dragging me off stage. (Though I did at the time) The great thing is they did it in character and wearing Men in Black style clothes. I suppose that was an accident, but it really worked. But it was a long time before I came back to No Shame again.

I remounted this at Charlottesville years later and got to do the whole piece.




"The Putnam Parallelogram" debuted September 13, 1996, performed by Todd Ristau.

Performed at No Shame / Charlottesville on May 3, 2002 by Todd Ristau.

[Todd Ristau's website] [Ristau Entertainment Ltd.]

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