In the city, it's 94 degrees out. In a tenement apartment, a couple yell at each other and then the man walks out.
Two elderly men, Mr. Shaw and Mr. Foxe, are walking down the street and looking for the couple's home. Mr. Foxe explains that he's been watching the woman, Mrs. Shrike, for three days and she's the ultimate subject... if she's still alive. Mr. Shaw wonders if they should be spying on her, but Mr. Foxe insists that they're psychologists and Good Samaritans. They see Mrs. Shrike come out and duck out of sight. She crosses the street and goes to the butcher and they follow her. She snaps at the butcher, constantly provoking him as he grows angrier and angrier.
When Mrs. Shrike comes out, Foxe notes that she has a death wish. He speculates that as the temperature rises, she's eventually going to set someone off and be the victim of violence. Shaw begins to have second thoughts, but Foxe notes they have nothing better to do. The follow her to the dry cleaners and Foxe tries to plan their strategy before she finds her murderer.
The temperature continues to rise as Shaw and Foxe go into a diner across from Mrs. Shrike's apartment. They chat with the owner, Albert. Foxe explains that they were once insurance salesman, but are now detectives. As they wait, Foxe says that Shrike's husband is a longshoreman and is away most of the date. He plans to knock on her door and show her a thermometer registering the temperature. As they talk, they hear a radio broadcast about an increased number of murders. Foxe shows Shaw an article about how more murders are committed at 101 degrees, and he believes that it's the ideal temperature for "irritable murder." The temperature is now 96 degrees and climbing. Foxe insists that Mrs. Shrike is in danger and they have to warn her.
The two men go into the apartment and they find Mrs. Shrike's name on the post box. They start climbing the six stories to the top floor.
Mr. Shrike is at the bar drinking and gets a call.
As they go up, Foxe hopes that they can plant a seed in Mrs. Shrike's mind and convince her to change her ways. He talks about how this will be their first case and that from here, they can go on to find other potential murder victims and stop their deaths. They hear Mrs. Shrike yelling within her apartment, talking to her husband on the phone and telling him to bring home his paycheck and stop drinking. They knock and the unlocked door opens, and she asks who they are. The radio is blaring and they finally convince her to turn it down. She figures that they're salesman and when Foxe introduces themselves as former insurance salesmen. She figures that they're trying to sell her insurance, but Foxe assures her that they're not. He tries to explain their theory about people who are accident prone, and points out a loose light bulb above the tub. Foxe also points out that she is keeping her refrigerator door open to cool off, and it will cause the food to spoil. She wonders if they're there to clean her house.
As the temperature rises, Foxe asks if she can open the windows. Mrs. Shrike says he can but Foxe realizes that it's stuck. He finally gets it open but it slams down and shatters. Shaw is ready to give up but Foxe tries to get through to her. She tells him that his time is up but Foxe tries to describe how irritations build up until someone takes it out on everyone. He finally tells her that he's there to save her from herself, and she has the equivalent of invisible marks. Foxe warns that one day a murderer will see them and murder her. Mrs. Shrike thinks that he's insane, particularly when she discovers they've been following her. She tells them to get out and calls Foxe a washed-up loser. He finally snaps and hits her in the shoulder with her cane, and she shoves them out.
The two men walk out and Foxe admits that Shaw was right and there's nothing they can do. Mr. Shrike shoves by them and they realize who it is. He runs past them with a longshoreman's hook and goes upstairs. They check the temperature and realize it's the precise degree, and hear Mrs. Shrike scream from above.
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