15:44. The Referee is working part time in a shop selling Inuit art, walrus figurines carved from tusks, small hunters of polished stone mounted in chunks of driftwood. This is a part time gig, he says, a prelude to the professional wrestling costume business that he is about to launch with his girlfriend. They make and sell costumes now, but the dream is go full time and continue refereeing during the evenings and weekends. Hardest decisions? He makes difficult decisions in the ring all the time. He made one last weekend. "They're fast, but they're very hard." It's intimidating, a lot rides on them. "Professional wrestling is theater, right? It's got a script. Everything is scripted. I'm an actor, and it is a hard role to get. But sometimes things go off script, maybe one of the guys gets angry and starts knocking the other guy around for real. The crowd probably can't tell the difference, but I can." Elderly tourists wander into the art shop and The Referee pauses his story. They prod and nose objects without making eye contact with The Referee. Then, without a word, they abruptly walk out. "It's supposed to be about protecting your opponent—that is the big rule. And, last weekend, this guy kept dropping his opponent on his head. The guy was getting dazed and slow. When you get knocked on the head and you're not expecting it, it really stuns you. So I have to decide: do I stop the show? For real?" How much thrashing is too much? Will the guys go back to the script or will someone end up with a broken neck? If he stops the show prematurely the crowd will be disappointed and the wrestlers and managers will be angry. "I could lose my job. There are a lot of other people who want to be in professional wrestling." Conversely, if he doesn't stop the fight and a wrestler gets injured, he will lose his job. "People aren't supposed to get hurt on my watch. I'm an actor, but sometimes it's real. Sometimes you have to make that decision and you have to make it in a split second."
20:23. The fleeting warmth of Canada's summer infuses Québecois with manic energy. Shoppers buzz from produce markets to bakeries, clothing shops to electronics stores. Along Rue Saint-Jean , it is hardly an exaggeration to say that every retail business is interspersed by restaurant. French food is available, of course, but burger joints hold their ground along with a good contingent of Lebanese and Vietnamese—linguistic connections drawing in ethnic cuisines from the old empire. Québec City's gutterpunks glower down upon the consumer melee from the parapets of the fortress. They spend most of their days up there, blasting the Dead Kennedys from their tinny boom-boxes and drinking cheap beer. In a few months winter will drive them back into their parents' basements but, for now, they exhibit their antiestablishment plumage and summer tans to everyone below. A man with a green mohawk stands up on a turret with his electric guitar and catches the sunset light. He flails around passionately and one can only assume that he is shredding through a wicked solo but, due to lack of power on the fortress wall, his guitar is unplugged and the only sound audible is traffic from below.
01:09. Away from the main drag, the streets of the old city are silent apart from muffled laughing echoing off rows of houses. Pedestrians are rare, windows dark. The red LEDs of car alarms flicker on and off in shining black vehicles. The laughter continues, loud one moment, muted the next. An outburst. The laughter pours from a painfully bright basement window that projects a conspicuous green square onto the deep yellow sidewalk. The window is at ground level, the room it exposes somewhat lower. Two young men sit inside the room, one white and one black. They are playing monopoly at a rickety card table. In shorts. Just shorts. Both have gold chain necklaces. No alcohol is in sight. One counts money. The other says something in French. Both laugh. It is the only sound for blocks.