MGB Barbeque – Wilcox, AZ

by Mark Hahn

The owner of this house probably thought the arsenal of high power rifles that he kept in the safe would protect him from anything that came his way. Sniper scopes and suppressors lie in the burned out remains of the house. The fire spread too fast for him to get out before everything went up in blazes. There were probably live shells going off the entire time the house burned. What good is a gun for protection without ammo? In Arizona, when people have ammo they typically have massive amounts of it. Perhaps it kept the firefighters away.

All too often, the danger comes from within and not from the outside. Like a walled complex during a plague, the fortresses we build for our protection all too often become our undoing. Once the poison gets in, the walls become our own prison.

As an untrained forensic investigator, I looked for clues in the charred remains of the structure. Besides the barbeque, I spotted a large gas burner. I think of drunken Thanksgivings and deep fried turkeys gone awry. Holy shit! What a blaze they can make. Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

Thanksgiving always makes me think of how far away I am from everything and everyone — like what it must have been like living in this little prefab house outside Wilcox, AZ. There are no tables set. There is no place to go. There is no one to say grace.

Before I had kids, I used to make turkey sandwiches on Thanksgiving and go hiking with my dog deep in the San Gabriel mountains above LA. Everyone had somewhere else to be and I would be alone. The stillness of nature was beautiful.

Now I make pumpkin pie for my kids and remember my grandmother. She’s the one who taught me how to make a good pie crust. The only secret is to use ice cold water and stop cutting the dough when it forms pea shaped balls. My grandmother always smelled of pastry flour and spices. She had a smile and laugh that as a kid made me happier than anything else.

The MGB sits under the collapsed carport with the tools to fix it still lying around the rusting carcass. The blaze was so intense that all the glass melted and pooled on the red hot metal before the whole mess cooled and solidified in the state that it now lies.

When we were teeenagers, my best friend had an MGB just like this one. It rarely ran. If it even looked like rain it would just die, leaving us wherever we happened to be. The delusion of British prestige mocked us with it’s shiny smiling little grill under the maroon bonnet. We were looking for a way into the world, but ended up being left to stand alone in cold dark drizzling Detroit nights.

Over the years, we learned to fix almost everything on our cars. What we lacked in finances, we made up for with ingenuity and tenacity. It was a long fight — patching together dreams that time continued to tear apart. All cars end up in the junkyard no matter how special they feel when you step on the gas and let yourself believe that they can take you anywhere — somewhere new and beautiful.

Sometimes it takes a catastrophic fire to destroy everything so you can really let it go.