“This Poor Nomad,” Or: Fist Fight at the Corona Corral





Actually, I missed the start of this story but heard it commenced around one o’clock in the afternoon when a nomad wisecracker drifted in from the street and, while wearing black stockings and slippers, began bothering a Jordanian bartender from the Corona Corral who’d been taking out a bag of trash.

This wisecracker demanded the Jordanian let him inside and that he be served drinks. The Jordanian said they weren’t open yet, but the nomad kept pleading to be let in and served because, the nomad claimed, he knew the bar owner, whom everyone called Saint Michael.

It’s unknown how long this engagement went on (minutes, seconds?) before it then evolved into something more than a shoving match––but maybe slightly less than full-on Fury vs. Wilder II––though it definitely qualified as a scuffle, and one with the nomad having tried (but also having failed) to make his way to his intended destination of the bar inside.


I showed up around 5:30 that afternoon, started sucking on Firemans #4, and listening while the Jordanian told me and the others everything that happened in Act I. His left eye looked a little puffy at the brow line, though not exactly red. (And this was just after that side of his brow had recovered from a months-long in-grown hair ordeal––likely caused by one of those of oddball hairs of an especially course nature that the hay farmers in Lampasas in the 1970s used to call hog peckers.)

And the Jordanian was still just all amped up from the adrenaline-inducing incident that’d occurred hours before, so he told the story especially fast, all while standing and shuffling on the balls of his feet. Indeed, like when Caesar (Gallic Wars II, xx) describes his desire when in battle “to be everywhere at once,” the Jordanian was behind the bar, outside the door to the bar, as well as busing the tables on the porch out back the entire time he relayed to us the earlier encounter.

He was telling us this story when he interrupted himself, “Hey, hey, hey, HEY!” because it turned out the nomad wisecracker had returned, and this time, as we could all now see, he’d clearly made it inside the door.

About two seconds later the Jordanian, another customer Virgil (a regular), along with Bald Clyde Barrow (another bartender) and Geoff Davies (the Welshman who books musical acts for the Corona Corral during SXSW)—had all group-hugged and removed the nomad through the front door without injury.

Outside everyone separated, with the guys standing by the door while the nomad in the parking lot began to yell at them. Then a second nomad––who really didn’t even look nomadic but was an obvious acquaintance of his nomadic wisecracker counterpart––pulled the yelling guy away by the shoulder, and they shuffled off to the gas station across the street.


Ten (?) minutes later, the nomad wisecracker came back from the gas station and started yelling again from the parking lot.

“Dolly,” asked Bald Clyde Barrow, “can you hand me my phone over there?” (for the record, I too am abundantly bald).

Dolly handed the phone to him.

“He keeps coming back; I gotta call cops now.”

By this time the nomad had disappeared, presumably back to the confines of the gas station, but Clyde had already dialed and was giving them the address.

“Hey all,” the Jordanian then announced aloud, “Virgil’s phone fell out of his pocket; cracked the screen when he was helping us just now. I feel bad, so … if anybody wants to chip in … we need 125 dollars,” he said as he grabbed one of the tip buckets from the bar.

“Here,” and, “Here you go,” say several patrons who immediately pitched in.

I checked my wallet. No cash. But what had happened so far had been strange and entertaining enough, so I went to the ATM-jukebox-combo across the barroom, extracted 20 dollars at a cost of $3.25, handed that 20-dollar bill to Brando (another bartender, and one who always wears a ballcap), and he gave me back four fives. I then took three of those fives and placed them in the tip bucket that was now being used as a collection plate at our Thursday afternoon church service there at the Corona Corral.

By this time a pair of cops had arrived in their Kevlar and nylon accoutrement. The Jordanian and Bald Clyde Barrow went to the parking lot to talk to them, and soon enough the nomad wisecracker had returned as well. So the cops took him aside and interviewed him too, and these interviews took about 20–25 minutes, enough time for me to finish my beer and begin another one.

Eventually, the Jordanian and Bald Clyde Barrow returned and resumed their places behind the bar. The cops then finished their conversation with the black-clad, slipper-shod nomad wisecracker. They declined to arrest the guy, and soon the nomad disappeared in the direction of the gas station.

The cops, meanwhile, then entered the Corona Corral but were quick not to walk up to the bar where we patrons sit. The Jordanian and Bald Clyde Barrow came back around from behind the bar to talk to them while we all shamelessly watched and listened to their verdict.

“Okay,” says the cop, “he says you,”––meaning what the nomad wisecracker said about the Jordanian, “called him every possible racist epitaph that can be grammatically constructed in our vernacular; he says he’s a friend of Saint Michael’s. Is Saint Michael the owner?”

“Yeah, the lease is in his name, and that includes the parking lot.”

“This guy says Saint Michael is his friend, and they’re drinking buddies––”

This was interrupted by some moderate chortling and “well’s….” before Clyde explained to the cop: “Yeah Saint Michael says a lot of people are his buddies, and a lot of them are. Saint Michael can sometimes make miracles happen, can sometimes overwhelm you if you’ve already had a few Firemans #4, so maybe the nomad and the saint had one good night together here once––”

“––Well, if he’s the owner, he’s the only one who can file a trespassing claim. We didn’t see it happen. He has his story, you yours. You wanna file assault charges against him since you claim he hit you, you can, but they won’t stick. You already know that but I’m obligated to say it anyway.”

“No, no charges,” says the Jordanian, still amped up and jumpy, “I just don’t want him coming back in here––”

“––Well,” interrupts the cop, “we don’t have video of what happened, like I said, we have his story and we have yours and is that really a fucking D. A. R. E. hat you’re wearing?”

It should be noted that the cop said some variant of “fuck” at about every third word in this entire conversation. He’d addressed the question to Brando with the ballcap. Brando, however, hadn’t even been speaking to the cops but had stayed behind the bar serving drinks. (And yes, he was wearing a mint flat-bill D. A. R. E. cap.)


So I went back to the bar the next night, and I sat in my spot, ‘cause I’m a real cornball George Wendt (but one without the curly hair), and soon I saw the Jordanian and complimented him for the absence of any apparent black-eyes.

Then I gathered from him and others that the nomad wisecracker had returned later the evening before––sometime after the cops left––and he and the Jordanian scuffled again, and again the cops showed up, and again, asked the Jordanian if he wanted to press charges, but again he declined. Then, even later that next evening, he told me he’d learned from the non-nomadic-looking fellow who was comrades with the nomad wisecracker that that trouble-maker’s daughter (age unknown) died a few weeks ago, and obviously this poor nomad had flipped his lid a few times over since then.

Later that next night Virgil showed up, and we all learned that he’d received enough donations to fix his phone––and he showed us how it was already repaired––all of which I thought was a nice ending to the whole, somewhat mundane but somewhat interesting, affair.


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