The Fifth Quarter is a tale of how what goes around often comes around, with harsh consequences. It currently resides in one of the many Stephen King novels (Skeleton Crew) as a short work of fiction placed into a collection.
In The Fifth Quarter, a dangerous man has found a good friend of his murdered and seeks to find not only the killer but also the reason why. The man is obviously hardcore and the reader senses he has the skills to do just that as he follows clues on the body, puts them together with things his ‘slow’ friend said before he disappeared, and realizes there was a robbery and his buddy was part of it.
Hoping to find the killers, the man tracks down one of the others involved and then ambushes him, determined to learn the whole story. His trap nets a second man from the heist and while holding these two men at gunpoint he gets the details.
There was a bank robbery, his buddy hired to drive, and the four men had agreed to bury the loot in a remote location until the heat died down. A map was drawn and it was split into four quarters among the men and they went their separate ways. Then, the nature of man took over. One of them got greedy and has started killing the others for their quarters of the map.
The hero of the story kills one of the two men he is holding captive and agrees to spare the second in exchange for his quarter of the map but before they can go get it, the fourth robber shows up and a big gunfight ensues. This last man is the one who backstabbed the others and the hero almost dies in the battle. The fight scene ends with them both firing at the same time. The story then flashes to the hero starting his search for the buried money and the reader realizes he won. Throughout the story, the man is the fifth quarter.
As far as Stephen King novels go, Skeleton Crew is not as good as some of the other short story collections Mr. King has out. The best is the Bachman Books but The Fifth Quarter is a solid story that will leave the reader feeling like it had a good ending when really the hero is just another bad guy profiting from his friend’s death. Out of five stars, this gets two and a half.