Lou's face went pale. He put his hands up in front of himself and hunched his shoulders, crouching slightly. He didn't look comfortable. It was a defensive position, and Lou was used to being on the offensive. And words were not his weapon of choice. "But Boss, I been witcha fa what? Ten, fitteen years?" The Boss shook his head, looking down as he brought his hands back together. That was the sign, and two gentleman who had been waiting in the shadows on either side of the door came out. Lou was grabbed by his upper arms and sat down hard in a chair. Lou pleaded with a balding crown: "Boss, what did I do?"
The older man looked up. "What did you do?" The Boss always spoke slowly and deliberately, never using contractions where a longer word would substitute, but these words he spoke very slowly, as if trying to read fine print aloud. "Lou, what did you not do?" On 'not', their eyes met, and there was a flash of malevolence in the older man's eyes. "That is really the question."
Lou squirmed as his hands were bound behind him and now his feet before him. "Was it Aldretti? Cocuzza?" A large wash basin was placed at his feet, and cold steel pressed against his head. He didn't struggle much with the physical battle at hand, as questions consumed him. "Was it that Jew prick of a lawya, Gittelstein? Boss, I sweah," Lou's voice rose in pitch and volume as the granulated powder at his feet was poured in, "I didn't hear you cancelled your orders on him, I'd sweah it on my ma's grave."
His former employer sat tacitly during all of this, drinking it in. When he spoke, it was in the same dry, stilted prosody that he had employed earlier. "It is all of those, and none of those. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the sum of the parts are more than you are now worth to me." The Boss' face hardened as swiftly as the cement that now bound Lou's feet. It was Quik-Dry. Oh yeah.
As Lou was picked up, again by the upper arm and braced under his armpits, his tantrum reached its fever pitch. "Boss, I been good, I been loyal, I ain't never squealed. This one time I shot a guy just cause he wanted me to come work for him." The Boss raised an eyebrow. "Honest! Didn't ya ever wonda what happened ta that slimy west-coast bastard Dinuzzo?"
A curious look crossed the older man's face. "You did not tell me about that. Regardless, it was done without the authorization of this organization." He haltingly spoke the spaces between the syllables of the longer words, stretching the last moments of Lou's life, though whether for Lou's sake or his own savor Lou could not say. "I am sorry, Lou." The same look of frank pity and regret. "I am still going to have to let you go."
Lou screamed. "Boss, WHY?" The Boss nodded to an unseen signal behind Lou and a gag was placed over his open mouth, choking out the scream. It took a few seconds to kill the echo in the empty air of the warehouse, but finally it died, and Lou's muted protesting could not fill the dead space inside. Lou, stifled, continued to squirm and strain and scream into the musty rag for five minutes, as he was stood up, bound to a hand truck, and wheeled out to a running limo in front of the werehouse. He was blindfolded and loaded up as they sped off for the Pier.
Minutes later, he stood on the edge of the Pier, facing his boss and not out at the empty, open water. There were tears in his eyes now, and the gag was removed. The Boss asked for his last words, and he sobbed. "Why, Boss, why?"
The Boss looked soulful and chewed on his bottom lip for a second. When his eyes met Lou's, for the last time, they were filled with sadness. "This hurts me as much as it hurts you, Lou. I'm losing one of my best men. But sometimes, you've just got to let go." On 'go', he went, first clasping his hands behind his back and then turning on his heel to walk back up the Pier to the car. Lou was pushed over the edge and fell, the broad bucket displacing a lot of water.
He clutched at breath, straining to hold on to it; questions still in his throat, salty tears still in his eyes. He strained and struggled, but gradually began to feel the helplessness set in. His shoulders sagged and he tried to think about why he was here. But the air was running thin and the fire in his lungs was going out. He felt his attention flagging, and his consciousness took on a dreamlike state. He was dreaming he had been dropped, cemented feet first, into the river, when suddenly his chest gave a frantic spasm and he was jerked alert. And then, the reality of his situation set in. He was really there. He was helpless, hopeless. Lou was drowning.
When he realized this, he laughed. Six silent seconds later, bubbles blossomed as the air he let go surfaced on the river. The waiting limo saw this and drove away.