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The Peacock and the Firebird

Author(s): Julia Talbot

 When Anthony leaves his home and his desk job in America to pursue his dream job as a maskmaker in Venice, he has no idea that he’ll be hired by one of the best in the old city. Soon, though, he has his own shop, and his first big customer, Santino Rossi. 

Wealthy and powerful Santino is used to getting what he wants, and he wants masks for his upcoming midsummer night ball. He wants Anthony, too, and starts a cat and mouse game of pursuit. The game becomes dangerous and disturbing when echoes from the past begin to haunt both Anthony and Santino. Is their love real, or just a figment of a long ago crime?


 The minute handwork of making masks was what appealed to Anthony. If someone had told him five years ago that he would do it for a living, that he would sell off pretty much everything he owned and apprentice at the premiere Maschere in Venice, he would have called the loony squad to come and pick them up; but that was exactly what he'd done. 

The life of an artist had always called to him, and he took art classes in high school, excelled in them, but in college he chose to follow his mother's advice and get a business degree, something he could really use, she said, something that would support him. He let his creative side out by taking long vacations to exotic locales, and taking picture after picture. From Mexico to the Bahamas to Europe, he spent his hard earned money on lavish hotel packages and wandered side streets snapping photos of strangers and staircases and doorways. 

The trip to Venice during Carnevale was what did him in. The city was cold, and the wind off the water bit right into him, but the spectacle that was the renewed Carnevale fascinated him. The masks and the costumes and the lavish parties were a visual feast that he simply could not resist. And when Anthony wandered into the Laboratorio Artigiano Maschere, near San Giovanni e Paolo, he was utterly lost. 

Niccolo, one of the master mask makers there had sat and let Anthony throw questions at him in broken Italian for hours, laughing at his terrible accent and encouraging his interest. The man was a third generation puppeteer and had started in the mask business in 1979, when the Carnevale was revived after several hundred years of obscurity. 

The history of it fascinated him, the city captivated him, and when Niccolo offered to let him come back to the studio the next day and mold his own mask, Anthony readily agreed. He found something in the plaster and papier-mache and the paint and spangles, something that truly called to him, and Niccolo seemed to agree. Before he ever left Venice he had an offer to come back and apprentice with the man. All he had to do was arrange the visa. 

And quit his job. And tell his mother. 


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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 1-933389-30-3
Genre: GLBT
Date Published: 03/18/2014
Publisher: Torquere Press

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