A writer, Acton, watches the house of his publisher, Huxley, and watches as the man goes inside with his wife.
Later, Acton is in the house and backs away from Huxley's corpse. He goes to the bar and pours himself a drink, toasting the corpse. However, Acton realizes that he's left his fingerprints on the glass. He wipes the glass and picks up his gun.
Acton buys the gun from a salesman, claiming that he wants to use it just to scare a thief away.
Acton taunts Huxley and then tells him to stop smiling. He straightens out Huxley's face and notices a painting with eyes that seems to watch him.
Acton gives Huxley his manuscript, but the publisher tells him that it's garbage and that Acton is a talentless hack. The only reason he agreed to read Acton's story was to do the writer's wife Mary a favor. However, when Acton asks, Huxley refuses to say what the favor is.
Acton leans on the door sill and then realizes that he's leaving more fingerprints.
As Acton visits Huxley and talks with him, he touches the walls.
Acton begins wiping everything down, including the bottle and glasses he drank from with Huxley.
Huxley tells Acton that he's done with Mary. He shows Acton some of his art pieces and invites him to examine them.
Acton begins to panic as he realizes everything that he touched. He also starts to second-guess himself as he tries to figure out what else he touched that he doesn't remember. He begins to see finger- and handprints everywhere. He notices a bowl of artificial fruit and begins cleaning it, only to realize that he's leaving more fingerprints. He goes upstairs to find a pair of gloves in Huxley's bedroom, touching the banister as he goes. Acton enters into the bedroom and imagines Mary in there with Huxley. He finds a pair of gloves and goes downstairs, wiping off everything. As he finishes, he hears Mary at the door and hides beneath the stairs next to Huxley's corpse.
Mary eventually leaves and Acton looks around... and notices the fruit again. He starts cleaning it again and one piece of fruit rolls off the table.
Huxley gives Acton a Ming vase to examine and the writer angrily throws it to the ground, shattering it. Huxley then took out Acton's gun, gave it to the writer, and dared him to shoot him. Acton finally pulls the trigger, only to discover that he forgot to load it. Huxley calls him a spineless weasel and Acton finally strangles him in a fit of rage.
Acton catches the fruit before it can shatter on the floor, but wonders if he touches the bottom of the bowl earlier. He remembers breaking the vase earlier and realizes that every piece might have his fingerprints on it. He starts searches for the pieces and imagines hearing Mary at the door. He runs outside and a neighbor notices him. Acton runs back inside and remembers getting more fingerprints on the banister on his way up, and starts cleaning again.
The neighbor calls the police, who discover a now thoroughly demented Acton cleaning everything in the attic. They take him away along with Huxley's corpse. The neighbor explains to the investigating officer that he was Huxley's physician, and the publisher was dying of cancer. He figures that Acton may have actually done Huxley a favor by killing him relatively quickly and painlessly. As they leave, they go past a doorknob... covered with Acton's fingerprints.