Desert Quarry

Two mercenaries rob a former colleague's New York jewelry shop to even a score, but after the shop’s employees are found murdered, a deadly bank heist in Iraq begins to haunt them.

Raoul and Detective Mattei meet on a cobblestoned street in front of Raoul’s shuttered jewelry shop in the SoHo neighborhood in Manhattan.

Raoul unlocks the shop. The two men diffidently enter and carefully survey the shop then go downstairs to the offices.

Their diffidence was justified — they find four of Raoul’s employees shot dead in the back of the head.

Days earlier and a few blocks north Gu and Bob, former mercenaries reunite for the first time in two years after a roadside bomb hit their vehicle in Iraq. Gu was captured and held hostage while Bob was left for dead in the attack.

Gu wants to know who was responsible for his release.

Bob says a group of Saudi businessmen brokered a deal with Gu’s captors and paid a ransom.

This makes little impact on Gu but when Bob tells him that Ahmed, a former colleague who worked with their security firm in Baghdad and who was part of their bank robbery, supplied the information, Gu’s eyes widen but he discreetly hides his interest.

Bob begins to reveal his intentions and fires the first shot when he mentions something from the day of the robbery he knows Gu wants to forget: That their colleague Raoul made off with at least some of the money and abandoned them during the attack.

Bob is anxious to seek revenge.

Gu is reluctant and wants to let the past rest in peace.

When Bob and Gu leave two Saudi Assassins follow them.

After Bob brings Gu to a SoHo loft he’s subleasing and shows him Raoul is running a jewelry shop on the ground floor of the neighboring building, Gu tastes blood.

Bob has another surprise for Gu — he reveals an underground passageway linking his loft building to the next building, which houses Raoul’s jewelry shop.

Bob leads Gu to an open door. On the other side is the basement office of Raoul’s jewelry shop where the treasures are securely locked in a safe after business hours.

Bob proposes they rob Raoul’s shop as vindication rather than kill him.

Gu is skeptical — now he wants to garrote Raoul.

Meanwhile, Gu experiences difficulty adapting to his home life; his wife is addicted to prescription painkillers; their two teenage sons are living with his sister-in-law; and he needs cash.

Bob introduces Gu to Eric, a model who works as a doorman at Raoul’s shop. Eric readily divulges the security and operation details of Raoul’s shop — he just wants some of the action.

Gu relents and agrees to help Bob rob Raoul’s but on the eve of the heist Bob is concerned… and his concern is justified.

A look back reveals that Gu broke down and went on a methodic rampage two years earlier during the Baghdad bank job when he shot dead the manager and several employees in the back of the head. Gu justifies the extremity of his actions by citing the open secret the bank was Saudi-owned fund the insurgency led by fellow Sunni Muslims.

Gu, Bob, Raoul and their Iraqi colleague Ahmed managed to get away with the cash but they didn’t get far before a roadside bomb hit their vehicle. Raoul made off with as much cash as he could grab, Bob was left for dead and Gu was captured by Mahmoud the Jackal — the leader of a criminal gang with ties to the Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. Ahmed slipped away before the attack to get another vehicle.

Gu helps enrich Mahmoud and his gang by kidnapping targets for the Mahdi militia then selling the victims’ cars.

Mahmoud looks favorably upon Gu, but he readily relinquishes his captive after a Saudi businessman offers a lucrative ransom.

Before setting Gu free, Mahmoud explains that Ahmed helped coordinate the attack of Gu’s vehicle following the robbery and that Ahmed is still alive. However, Ahmed has become a problem and Mahmoud wants him dead. Mahmoud offers the task to Gu as a parting gift and a means for Gu avenge Ahmed’s betrayal.

Mahmoud arranges for members of the Jackal Gang to bring Ahmed to an empty apartment where Gu is waiting.

After Ahmed fails to escape he desperately explains to Gu that he had no choice but to fulfill Mahmoud’s orders.

When that fails, Ahmed fires his last bullet: Raoul was planning to kill Gu and Bob after the robbery.

Gu strangles Ahmed and leaves his body in the empty apartment.

Once Gu is freed, Mahmoud says he suspects the Saudi’s are planning to follow Gu with the aim of locating Raoul and Bob then killing the three to avenge the deaths of the theft of their bank and murder of their employees.

Back to the present in New York, Gu and Bob enter Raoul’s basement office shortly after the store closes from the underground passageway linked to Bob’s building. They seemingly pull the heist without a hitch.

However, once they clear out two Saudi Assassins follow Bob and Gu’s path to the basement entrance of Raoul’s shop and murder his employees.

On their way to stash the stolen jewelry in an abandoned building in East Harlem the Vagrant Voodoo Woman warns Gu and Bob there’s trouble ahead.

When Bob returns later that evening to the SoHo loft that prophecy begins to transpire: Bob sees the bodies rolling out of Raoul’s store.

Bob runs of and makes a call.

Then Bob meets Raoul.

The two men discuss how their insurance scam and plan sell the stolen jewelry on the black market has miserably failed.

Bob and Raoul mistakenly believe Gu has killed Raoul’s employees as punishment to Raoul for cutting out of Iraq with the money from the Baghdad bank job.

Bob and Raoul agree to collect the stolen jewelry in East Harlem then separate for a few days.

Bob returns the key to Raoul’s SoHo loft, which was used to setup Gu.

Once Bob has the stolen jewelry in hand in the abandoned building, the Vagrant Voodoo Woman rises up from a heap of trash behind him. Bob begins laughing when he sees her but Raoul sidles up behind her, pulls out his gun, shoots and kills her

Then Raoul keeps walking toward Bob and shoots him.

Raoul buries the jewelry on Ward’s Island then returns to his SoHo loft while Bob wanders through the streets bleeding.

Meanwhile, Gu searches for Bob but Bob falls dead in an East Harlem park.

The next morning Raoul waits in the loft expecting Gu but instead the two Saudi Assassins ambush and kill him.

When Gu goes to the loft looking for Bob he finds Raoul dead.

Gu silently ponders who could have murdered Raoul but he’s stumped and exhausted.

Gu settles on the bed but soon the two Saudi Assassins return. They quietly enter and kill Gu completing their mission of vengeance.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Starring Roles For:
Native American 40 year old male
John Leguizamo
40 Year Old Rugged Actor
In the Vein Of:
Reservoir Dogs
Pulp Fiction
The Third Man
Author Bio:
James Palmer is a former war reporter and photographer who covered civil and regional conflicts in East Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

His stories and photos appeared in newspapers, magazines and news agency wires including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Washington Post, Toronto Star, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, Der Spiegel and Reuters, among others.

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Contest Results:
Inroads Fellowship (Finalist) [2019]
Barcelona Festival (Finalist) [2019]
Rome Independent (Finalist) [2019]
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