Pinned up among a few dozen Polaroid photos behind the counter at The Raven Cafe in downtown Missoula is a picture of a familiar, though unwelcome, transient man known as “Uncle Billy.” According to folks at The Raven, Uncle Billy—aka William Quealy, 54, address unknown—has been a pain in their ass for years. Sharpie-scrawled in the Polaroid’s white margin, beneath Uncle Billy’s salt-and-pepper beard, greasy black hair and battered red-and-white tennis shoes, is a command from management to Raven staffers: “Call 911.”
“He’s been barred every time he comes into The Raven,” says co-owner Rose Habib. “It’s not like he used to be a regular and we had one bad experience. He’s pretty much been a bad experience from day one.”
No one got a chance to call 911 last Saturday night when Uncle Billy made an appearance outside The Raven during a three-band concert. Somewhere in the middle of Bacon and Egg’s set, just before 11 p.m., a plate glass window at the front of the building came crashing down. Minutes later, a few Raven employees, a couple of concertgoers and Uncle Billy were lined up against the wall along East Broadway while a confused Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy tried to sort out the mess he’d just witnessed.
According to Habib, the fray had nothing to do with the concert, and most concertgoers didn’t even notice the hullabaloo.
“There were some people from The Raven outside smoking cigarettes and Uncle Billy came up and started harassing people out front,” Habib says.
When co-owner Gavin Mouse went outside to move Uncle Billy along, Habib says, Uncle Billy pushed Mouse with his bike and Mouse went through the window. A passing cop saw the falling glass, stopped, and eventually hauled Uncle Billy off to jail.
Raven employees went to work boarding up the window and the show went on.
Uncle Billy pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct charges in Missoula Municipal Court on Tuesday.