San Francisco, 1986 - a city where Dionysian liberation is beginning to pall beneath the first shadows of a strange new darkness. When Bill Ticino's fruitless and numbing marriage finally breaks up, he is left alone in his Pacific Heights home. Plagued by insomnia and spiritually lost, Bill becomes convinced that a housemate is the solution to his problems. A handsome, charismatic Portuguese man named Peter soon moves in, along with a stunning pet hoopoe bird, Maria. All too quickly Bill is drawn into their kabbalistic world of story-telling, occult charms, and transfiguring ritual. When Peter ignites Bill's repressed obsessions by telling him emotionally charged tales of hidden meaning and by taking him deep within San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood - a dead-end underworld of prostitutes and transvestites - Bill begins to see that his new tenant has plans that will force him down a perilous sexual and spiritual path, one with the power to both redeem and destroy.