A phone rings at the home of Joan Heinemann, and she looks nervously at it. Joan finally answers it. There’s heavy breathing at the other end, but the caller doesn’t identify themselves. Joan tells the caller to go away and hangs up.
Later, Joan calls McGill and asks her old lover to help her. McGill agrees and asks about Joan’s husband Jason, and Joan explains that Jason thinks she’s going crazy. She refuses to explain over the phone, and McGill has her meet him at a restaurant the next morning. Outside, Joan’s dog Peppy barks... and then there’s a splash as someone throws it into the nearby river.
That night, Joan and Jason return home from dinner at a restaurant Jason sends Joan in to make drinks while he parks the car. Joan goes inside and discovers that Peppy is gone. She enters the dining room and finds a woman there in a blue coat, laughing. Terrified, Joan turns and runs.
The next day, Joan meets McGill and explains that a month ago, she started seeing a tall blonde woman who laughs at her. It’s always when Joan is alone, and the first time happened in the garden after Joan dozed off in the sun. McGill wonders if Joan is dreaming, but Joan insists that the woman is real enough. She doesn’t recognize the woman, and asks McGill to help her. Joan explains hat Jason thinks that it’s all Joan’s imagination, and she doesn’t figure the police can do anything about a woman with a laugh. McGill doesn’t know what he can do short of move in with Joan and Jason, and Joan admits that he’s right. She apologizes for involving him, but McGill assures her that it’s okay and tells her to see what happens in the next couple of days.
As McGill gets a cab for Joan, a ma--Williams-- watches them. Once McGill goes to his hotel, William follows him. McGill takes the elevator up and Williams makes note of what floor he goes to. Williams then goes to the telephone booth and calls his employer, and gives him McGill’s address and description. His employer--Jason--realizeswho it is and tells Williams to leave McGill to him.
As McGill settles in, his bell rings. He figures that it’s Jason and says that he spotted Williams. Jason asks why McGill was with Joan, and McGill refuses to explain. McGill points out that Joan asked him for help, and Jason insists that what Joan needs is stability and security. He points out that Joan took him as a husband seven years ago, and neither Joan nor McGill have changed since then. Jason threatens to “stop” McGill with his well-connected friends, and walks out. A man, Toby, comes in from the next room and helps himself to the liquor bottle. McGill tells the PI to follow Jason and report back to McGill.
Joan continues calling for Peppy, and realizes that the patio window is open. She hastily closes it and hears a dog barking outside. Joan runs out to the street and down to the river, and discovers that it’s a different dog with its owner. As Joan comes back, two women and a boy run by. One of the women is laughing and Joan jumps, startled. She goes back inside and locks the patio window.
McGill goes to the companies registration office.
Joan is listening to music and reading a magazine. The record jumps suddenly and Joan starts. She quickly turns it off and the phone rings. Joan finally answers it and McGill introduces himself. She explains that Peppy has been missing for a couple of days, and he promises he’ll tell her anything he learns. Joan admits that she might be insane and wants McGill to figure it out, and he assures her that he’s sure she’s sane. He tells her to relax and Joan thanks him for the reassurance.
Toby has followed Jason to the home of Diana Fielding on two separate occasions. He meets McGill outside of Diana’s flat when Jason goes there for a third night. She’s a brunette, not a blonde, and Jason is paying for her flat. Jason and Diana leave in a car and McGill leaves Toby to follow them. Toby gives McGill the flat key, and McGill enters the flat. He searches the place and finds a blonde wig on the dressing table.
Joan goes to the dining room to get a new bottle of liquor, and starts when she sees her reflection in a mirror. She drops the decanter and breaks it.
Later, McGill and Toby meet up at McGill’s room and go over Jason’s financial records.
Joan paces nervously around her home and hears someone come in. She finally checks the door and finds Jason home early. Jason explains that he brought his work home, and he felt guilty for not being home the previous night like he promised. Joan points out that Peppy hasn’t come back He notices the decanter is broken and figures that Joan had another of her frights. He apologizes again, and Joan tells him that there’s no need to make excuses. She asks what he was really doing, and Jason insists that he was at the office. Joan admits that she doesn’t believe him, and Jason insists that he wants Jason the way she was.
The phone rings and Joan asks Jason to answer it. He tells her to stop running now that he’s there. Jason watches as Joan answers the phone. It’s McGill, and he asks to see her at a nearby pub. Joan agrees and tells Jason that it’s a neighbor who saw Peppy. He knows that she’s lying and asks who she really wants to trust., and accuses her of having an affair with McGill.
Joan walks through the fog to the pub and meets McGill. He asks her about her money, and Joan admits that she inherited it from her father. Jason asked her to put some of it into his business recently. McGill tells her to stay there while he checks the house, even though Jason is there. Joan figures that McGill is humoring her, and McGill irritably makes it clear he still believes in her before leaving. Joangoes to a phone and makes a call.
McGill goes to the Heinemann home and discovers that the garden door is unlocked. Inside, he notices a spot on the wall where the mirror recently hung, and works out that it was moved to across the doorway. Jason comes in, unsurprised to see McGill, and says that he had the mirror moved because he figures Joan saw her own reflection. McGill doesn’t buy it and figures that Jason left the garden door open so that Diana--an out-of-work actress--could slip in wearing a blonde wig and a blue coat. Jason points out that he always has a prosperous business of his own, and McGill reveals that he knows the business is on the rocks. The businessman says that all of his competitors are in the same straits, and claims that he merely advised Joan to make a profitable investment. As for Diana., Jason admits that he sought a substitute for a wife he can’t reach. McGill knows that Diana charged a blonde wig to Jason’s account, and Jason admits that Diana has several wigs. She was in Paris when Joan had her first vision. Jason says that Joan has been having depressions, and her mother Mrs. Caggen is possessive and hysterical. Joan’s father hanged himself, and Jason says that Joan has been undergoing regular psychiatric treatment with a Dr. Forsythe.
Joan is with Forsythe and has her repeat her description of the woman she saw in the garden the first time. She does so and Forsythe asks if the laughter was familiar. Joan insists that it wasn’t Mrs. Caggen and storms out. Forsythe calls in Mrs. Caggen from the next room.
Two hours later, Jason calls Forsythe and says that Joan hasn’t come home. The psychiatrist says that there’s nothing to worry about and advises Jason to look for Joan at the place he suggested earlier. Once Forsythe hangs up, he tells his visitor McGill that he has no right to patient-doctor confidences. McGill asks him if he’s sure that all of the events Joan has experiencedare distortions of reality. Forsytherefuses to say if she’s psychotic, and McGill asks where he can find Joan.
Joan goes to her father James’ grave and leaves flowers. She hears laughter and sees the blonde woman approaching her in the fog. Joan backs away and falls on the edge of an open grave, and runs to the gate. They swing closed, and Joan cries in terror just as McGill arrives. He takes Joan to his car, and she insists that she came there to face her guilt. Joan explains that she and her mother murdered James. She explains that her mother murdered James’ spirit by mocking him constantly, and Joan stood aside and let her. Joan isn’t sure if her mother is the woman she’s seeing. She asks McGill to take her anywhere but back to Jason, who she’s sure doesn’t care for her. McGill says that he came because Jason told him to, after he talked to Forsythe. Jason didn’t come because he thinks Joan is afraid of him.
McGill takes Joan to her home and Jason tells someone in the dining room to stay there no matter what. He then goes to Joan and thanks McGill, and then says there’s something he wants to show her. Jason leads Joan there and she screams in horror. McGill runs in and finds the mirror, and Jason explains that he had to show Joan it was all in her mind. He tells his wife that she’s been imagining Mrs. Caggen, and now it’s time to face the truth. Jason opens the door to the next room, and Mrs. Caggen comes out. After a moment, Joan hugs her mother.
The phone rings for McGill. It’s Toby, and McGill tells his friend to stay there and he’ll meet him. Once he leaves, Mrs. Caggen explains that she went to see Joan in the garden. She apologizes for shocking Joan that day, and then wrote to Jason. Jason told her about Forsythe, and he was the one who suggested that she come around. Joan wonders where McGill is, and Jason says that McGill isn’t there.
McGill drives to Diana’s flat and accuses her of impersonating Mrs. Caggen. Diana points out that there’s no law against wearing a wig and laughing, and McGill says that they can still charge her with malicious prosecution. He has Toby’s record of her movements, and points out that know she was at the cemetery and can accuse her of attempted murder. McGill warns that it will be a tough rap to take alone.
Jason takes Mrs. Caggen to her car. Once she leaves, he goes inside and bolts the outside door, and then joins Joan. Joan says that she’s coming to terms with the fact that it was all her imagination, and apologizes to Jason for not trusting him. Jason puts on a record and says that Forsythe told him all about Mrs. Caggen. He talks about how suicide is the next step, and Forsythe said that Joan could kill herself. Jason says that none of them would be surprised if Joan killed herself, even McGill. Joan runs to the doors and discovers that they’re locked, and Jason stops her.
As Jason continues describing how suicide runs in the Caggen family, Joan checks the other doors and finds them all locked. He suggests that she would kill herself in the river and drown... just like Peppy.
McGill returns to the Heinemann home and goes in. he kicks in the door and attacks Jason as he tries to haul Joan outside. McGill knocks Jason into the dining room mirror and his face smashes against the glass. Joan comes in and McGill leads her away.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 10, 2016