The Fifth Quarter (short story)

The Fifth Quarter (short story)

Infobox short story |
name = The Fifth Quarter
title_orig =
translator =
author = Stephen King
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Short story
published_in = "Cavalier" (1st release),
"Nightmares and Dreamscapes"
publication_type = Magazine
publisher = DuGent Publishing Corp
media_type = Print (Paperback)
pub_date =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Fifth Quarter" is a short story written by Stephen King, originally published in "Cavalier" (under the pen name John Swithen) and collected in King's short story anthology "Nightmares and Dreamscapes". It was filmed as an episode of the TNT miniseries "".

In the notes for this story, King remarks "Bachman again or maybe George Stark", a reference to his pseudonym Richard Bachman whose "relationship" with him was the basis of the character George Stark for the novel "The Dark Half".

Plot summary

The story follows "Jerry Tarkanian" (probably a pseudonym, referring to the famous basketball coach), a crook looking to avenge the death of his friend Barney, who died at the hands of his own accomplices after taking part in an armored car heist. Unknown to them, Barney managed to get to Tarkanian before he died and told him of the heist and of the map divided amongst his killers that reveals the location of the stolen money.

At the start of the story, Tarkanian has tracked down two of the men, Keenan and Sarge, who are about to make a deal between themselves and manages to hold them at gun-point, forcing them to give him their sections of the map. However, things go wrong when the third man, Jagger, appears during the confrontation and attacks them both, in the firefight that follows Sarge is killed, but contributes to Jagger's downfall when his body obstructs his path, letting Tarkanian get the advantage and finish him.

Despite not having Jagger's part of the map, he now has enough to recover the money. The story ends with Tarkanian leaving the scene, knowing that in the aftermath of this shootout that his debt to his friend has been paid and he himself now has a lot to be grateful for.

The plot is similar to a novel "George Stark" is writing in The Dark Half.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

In the hour-long film version for the TNT miniseries, the story evolves slightly differently. Barney manages to tell Tarkanian (named Willie in the episode) about the heist and the four map segments, giving Tarkanian his segment before his death. Tarkanian proceeds to Keenan's, and then Sarge's, homes and injures both, taking their maps. Jagger appears at Keenan's house shortly after Tarkanian's departure. Jagger then arrives at the Sarge's home and finishes off Sarge. The body, like in the story, tripped the aggressive Jagger, Lisa, his wife, is left with the map. After some troubles, she succeeds at "decoding" the mysterious map and recovers the money.

The hour-long film version stars Jeremy Sisto as Willie, and Samantha Mathis as his wife Karen.


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