When Sharona is approached in a parking garage by a staggering, blood-soaked man, she runs screaming for Monk, who's waiting outside. When they return moments later, there's no trace of a body. The police are unable to find any evidence that suggests anything out of the ordinary - except Sharona's behavior. Captain Stottlemeyer encourages Monk to give Sharona a few days off to relax: clearly she's overworked.
A few days later, Sharona attends her evening creative writing course, where she eagerly awaits a grade on a paper she wrote. Strangely, her professor, Meredith Preminger, claims Sharona never handed the paper in. Confused, Sharona leaves and heads for home. On the way, she stops for gas - and again comes face to face with the blood-soaked man from the parking garage!
Desperate and looking for answers, Sharona takes a big step and decides to pay a visit to Monk's psychiatrist, Dr. Kroger. After her session she goes to freshen up in the ladies room - and sees the blood soaked man again!! She runs to get Monk, and when they return, again there's no sign of anything amiss. That's the last straw: Sharona decides she needs more time off and suggests Varla Davis, a nurse from her writing class, to help Monk in her absence.
The next day, Monk meets Varla, whose no-nonsense attitude is too much for him. Faced with her abrasive ways, Monk becomes determined to prove that there is something or someone behind all these incidents befalling Sharona. He decides to start at the beginning and drags Varla back to the parking garage, where they discover a clue that's tied to a security guard from Sharona's school. Things become stranger when they learn that Meredith Preminger cancelled her class due to her husband's untimely death. When they learn the man had a heart attack while eating tomato soup, Sharona is shocked: her paper - the one Preminger claimed she never turned in - was about a wife who murdered her husband by putting an untraceable poison in his tomato soup!
Meredith Preminger had indeed used Sharona's idea as a blueprint for murder, so she had to discredit Sharona before killing her husband. Preminger laid the groundwork by breaking into Sharona's house to "misplace" things and having her lover, the school's security guard, follow Sharona around and appear as the blood-soaked man to make Sharona think she was losing her sanity. They almost got away with it too... had it not been for the detective work of Adrian Monk.