The beautiful house has been in the Blakey family for generations, but Charles has just lost his job and is behind on his mortgage payments. The money would be welcome.
But Charles Blakey is black and Anniston Bennet is white, and it is clear that the stranger wants more than a basement view. There is something deeper and darker about his request, and Charles does not need any more trouble. But financial necessity leaves him no choice.
Once Anniston Bennet is installed in his basement, Charles is cast into a role he never dreamed of. Anniston has some very particular requests for his landlord, and try as he might, Charles cannot avoid being lured into Bennet's strange world. At first he resists, but soon he is tempted - tempted by the opportunity to understand the secret ways of white folks. Tempted to understand a set of codes that has always eluded him. Charles's summer with a man in his basement turns into an exploration of inconceivable worlds of power and manipulation, and unimagined realms of humanity.