What Is the Plot of "The Catbird Seat"?

The plot of "The Catbird Seat" by James Thurber involves the supposed scheme of an office employee to kill one of his co-workers. The short story, set in early 1940s New York, is about the horrors of downsizing, according to editor and publisher K.E. Monahan Huntley for Dramatica.

The protagonist of the story is Erwin Martin, and his nemesis is Ulgine Barrows. Martin is content in his job until Barrows becomes his co-worker and begins to get on his nerves and threaten his position. As Martin’s irritation with Barrows grows, he fashions a plan to "rub out" the woman. Martin goes to her apartment one day and shares a bogus plot to kill their boss, Mr. Fitweiler, all the while behaving in a manner that is totally uncharacteristic of him.

When Barrows goes to the boss, Fitweiler, the next day to share Martin's words and actions, the boss refuses to believe her because her report is so inconsistent with everything he knows about the man. Believing her to be crazy, Fitweiler has Barrows removed and apologizes to Martin, who is then free to return to work as normal.