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Pressure washing, a stupid arsonist and a Ho-Ax

By Walter Geiger The youngest and I spent the weekend in Savannah with my parents for Mother’s Day. I hope all of you who are fortunate to have your mothers still among the living did the same. I thought it would be a tranquil weekend but I was wrong. I arrived to find my younger brother and brother-in-law hard at work installing a window in an upstairs room. The space had once housed a huge, old window air conditioner that required chains to hold it in place. Though I am good at demolition, construction is not my thing. My granddaddy put me to work one summer helping to roof a house. I was to nail down shingles but failed miserably. He quickly nicknamed me ‘˜Lightning’, noting that I never struck the same place twice with my hammer. I still am no craftsman but I think these new fangled nail guns like the one my brother had would make it easier. I can handle a gun pretty well. On the scene at the house was a pressure washer. My brother intended to use it to clean a patio and sidewalks. Feeling bad about not helping, I took on this job. I am well acquainted with pressure washers and have one of my own as every real man should. I sprayed bleach on everything then went about my work. It afforded instant gratification in that the result of the high pressure water was immediately apparent as the years of grime were blasted away. It was a satisfying if slow process which afforded much time to think. I spent most of that time reflecting on the case of Stephen Brehaut. Brehaut burned down his family’s catfish joint for the insurance money. Apparently not the sharpest tool in the shed, he was caught in the act of setting the blaze by his own security camera system and was in jail before the catfish place quit smoldering. Brehaut then caught a huge break. He went before Judge Tommy Wilson whose family long operated a catfish restaurant of their own. The judge understood the travails of the business and took into account that Brehaut’s mother had died and his aunt was dying. They had been the mainstays of the business for a generation. The judge spared Brehaut prison time, ordering him to spend 20 years on probation and pay $109,241 in restitution and clean up the mess left at the fire scene. He also gave Brehaut first offender status which would allow him to avoid having a criminal record if he followed through on the court’s mandates. Only he didn’t. Brehaut made a couple of false starts at cleaning up the place but balked. The judge stepped in. Still, Brehaut would not comply. The judge finally ordered the county to do the clean-up work and put a lien on Brehaut’s assets for the cost thereof. You would think he would have learned his lesson but you would be wrong. Brehaut will be back in court Thursday for violating his probation. He is now in arrears on his restitution payments in the amount of $6753.17, having made no payments since Dec. 29, 2014. That is a slap in the face to every law-abiding citizen and a serious affront to the court. Brehaut is a scofflaw with no respect for the judicial system. I am sure there is a prison mess hall somewhere in Georgia that could use a fry cook. Brehaut should be sent there immediately. I would suggest the prison keep the lard and gasoline stored in different areas however. Finally, we were on our way home from Savannah when the phone lit up about a shooting in Pike County. Supposedly a man had shot his father and fled into the woods. Several kind readers sent me photos of the lifeflight chopper landing at a nearby church to evacuate the victim. Our superb reporter Rachel McDaniel left her home, husband and two daughters on Mother’s Day to track down the story but it was all a sick joke. Law enforcement officers, emergency personnel and other first responders were angry and frustrated. I was angry and frustrated. Rachel didn’t say so but she was angry and frustrated. After cooling down, I was reminded about Lewis Grizzard’s tale of Bubba and Earl stopping at a Winder gas station that offered free sex with a fill-up. It turned out to be a Ho-Ax, just like the shooting. The idiot who perpetuated this should be sent to prison with the dim bulb fry cook. Maybe he can run a pressure washer and reflect on his own stupidity. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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