Check out LIQUOR and THE VALUE OF X pages for a look at the vicinity of Liquor, Rickey and G-man's childhood and current neighborhoods, and other locations that also feature in PRIME.

In another month the New Orleans lakefront would stink of fish, filth, and boat fuel, but right now it was a softly gorgeous spring day on Lakeshore Drive. Two young men sat on the seawall, their feet propped on the algae-slimed steps that descended into the murky brown water. Behind them, the levee rose up lush and green; before them was a vista of sailboats, small yachts, an occasional Coast Guard cutter, and far in the distance, the causeway that stretches twenty-four miles across Lake Pontchartrain to Mandeville, Covington, and other pretty little towns collectively known by sardonic city dwellers as "New Orleans North."


The original DA's office had been in the big Criminal District Courthouse at Tulane and Broad, a great, gray, twelve-columned, block-long edifice just up the street from Liquor. The police headquarters, the parish prison, and the morgue were also located in this complex, but several years ago Placide Treat had built himself and his staff a new, modern building behind the old one. It lacked the Art Deco beauty of the older offices, it got hotter in the summers, and it had plumbing problems from time to time, but it was all his; it said so on a large, gaudy metal plaque right outside the front door.


They were in a revolving cocktail lounge atop the glittering orb of Reunion Tower, fifty stories above the city. It was cheesy as hell, but Rickey was glad Coop had brought him here, since he had never before seen anything like this view of nighttime Dallas. If a very rich woman with very gaudy taste had upended her jewelry box onto a huge piece of dark blue satin, it might have looked a little like this. There were buildings that seemed to sparkle with gold dust, buildings topped with ruby beacons, a huge building completely outlined in emerald-colored argon tubing, a slightly smaller one whose lights made a pattern like a DNA helix. Far below, traffic moved in glittering chains among it all.


Rickey picked up a yellow plastic tube that bore a picture of a grinning baby and the legend BOUDREAUX'S BUTT PASTE. When another cook had recommended this product years ago, Rickey thought the guy was fucking with him, maybe even making some kind of veiled fag joke. It turned out to be a real product, manufactured across the lake and sold at drugstores all over town. Though it was meant for babies' diaper rash, it had achieved a cult status among local cooks as a treatment for summertime crotch rot.


G-man drove up Louisiana Avenue to a little church he'd noticed but never entered, Our Lady of Good Counsel. It was slightly decrepit, not at all grand, and he'd always liked the look of it. The morning Mass was about to begin. He genuflected and slipped into a rear pew.