“You can park here,” he said, “it gets a little hard to drive the rest of the way.” As we walked along the rutted road he explained that this was not his property, he had made a deal with the owner, who had an a?frame farther off the road. He watched the property in exchange for free parking rights. “It’s nice,” he said, “everything doesn’t have to be for money. I guard his place, he let’s me live here and it’s an exchange that benefits both of us.”
We were approaching his shelter, a Chevy Citation, if I remember the model right. He held a door open so I could look inside. The seats had been removed. The interior was painted in bright colors, and gear was stowed in plywood boxes and foot lockers. He pulled two folding camp chairs from the trunk and we sat down to talk. I asked how this had all started.
“Oh, about ten years ago I figured the world was going to hell, things were coming apart in the economy and so forth. I kept thinking about what I would do, where I would live if I lost my job and couldn’t get another one. I read that a local family had been rousted from living in their car while the father was out of work. I wondered how they could live like that, a whole family! Could I do it? I found out at least one book had been written about how to live in a car, and there is a section in Life After Doomsday about using a car for a fallout shelter. But I was thinking about taking it farther. What if you didn’t even own a car? What if you were down and out, but could get an abandoned car. You know you can be paid to haul one away! So that’s where I went. I used to lie in bed at night thinking up ways to convert an abandoned car into living quarters. Since it didn’t run anyway, take out the engine and the drive train. Take off the exhaust system, and so forth. And disconnect the drive shaft from the differential. Save more weight and decrease the rolling resistance.”
“But why be concerned about rolling resistance if there’s no engine?”, I interrupted.
“Because you may want to move it, push it around into position, take it on the road as a trailer.” He got to his feet, walked to the front of his car?home and pointed out the hitch in the front. “This baby tows like a dream,” he said. “Did you notice it has trailer plates?”
“Why not just use a camping trailer?” I asked without thinking.
“Cost, availability”, he said. “Plus, they stand out. A car converted into a trailer home still looks like a car. And think how many cars are junked every year. People want to get rid of them.”
“So you’ve been doing this for ten years?” I asked.
“Oh, no”, he said. “I just gathered information and wrote about it. I made up my book and started offering it at gun shows. A friend of mine sold magazines and I used his table for awhile. Then Helga came along.” He pointed behind me to a clearing where a blond woman was hanging up wash
on a line. She was wearing camo cargo pants and a khaki tank top. Her only concession to color was the blue ribbon on her braid.
He continued, “She stopped at my table and looked at the book, read a lot of it, really took her time. She asked if I lived in a converted car. I thought it was a putdown, maybe. But when I told her, ‘No, I had an apartment’, she said, ‘Oh, you just write about it, but you don’t do it.’ That,” he said, “was the put down. I took her up on the challenge. We drove to some barbeque place and talked about our beliefs, started to get to know one another. We really saw eye to eye on a lot of things and that’s how we ended up together out here.”
I was curious about why such a lovely woman would be willing to live under such rugged conditions and asked him about it.
“Oh, Helga believes like I do, that weird times are coming. She is as avid a survivalist as I am, maybe more so. Women sometimes pick up on stuff we men miss out on. We read about it, but they feel it. Maybe it is about protecting the young, preserving civilization, you know”.
Helga was washing clothes with a sink plunger in a plastic pail. She rinsed them in another pail and ran them through a hand?cranked wringer mounted on a tree stump. She saw us looking at her and gave a little three?fingered wave, a clothespin in her hand.
“She’s quite a lady,” he said, “feminine as all get out, but hard?core about survival. We both think this one?world government that is coming will micro?chip us and try to make slaves out of everybody. They are setting us up for the Anti?Christ. The technology is here now to make it possible.”
How many times I had heard about micro?chipping, and one?world government in connection with the coming Anti-Christ. And how I wished this man had researched prophecy as well as he had his improvised shelters.