Moraine Plastics

by John S. Lloyd

Chapter 5

newspaper clipping

Terry and Lucas spent many hours structuring Moraine’s day-and-a half retreat. Terry had given Lucas the feedback from his interviews with the managers. “Jerry Joban and Marshall Thorsen were the most skeptical of the team- building,” he said. “They seemed to know the most about Swensen and how he came to become owner of Moraine Plastics, but neither of them mentioned the investigation in Vilas County”

Terry continued, “I got from Thorsen that the managers thought there was going to be an employee stock purchase plan to give them part ownership of Moraine Plastics.” Lucas mentioned that to Carl, who was unaware that such a plan had been considered. Terry and Lucas presumed that Swensen might have promised without following through before his death.

The retreat started on a snowy, blustery February day. Carl’s basement room was invitingly warm. The session began with icebreaker exercises. Terry administered and interpreted several self-assessment tools.  Terry and Lucas were pleased by the way the men were engaging. Midway through the afternoon, Lucas began to feel that the session might not have been necessary.

Before cocktails Terry asked if the men wanted to bring up any subjects that had not already been discussed. Marshall Thorsen said, “I would like to bring up the subject of the stock purchase plan that Steve said he was developing. One of the reasons I joined Moraine was the promise of a stock purchase plan.”

This gave Carl an opportunity to say, “Marshall, to my knowledge such a plan was not mentioned by the estate’s lawyers so I don’t think it ever was developed.  I’m happy to investigate the best way to do that. I would like other owners, personally, because I feel you would be more invested in our success. That is not to say you aren’t now, for sure.”

Marshall said, “I’d like to own stock in Moraine. I think if you asked for a show of hands you’ll find others feel the same way.” There were audible murmurs and nods.

“Since I heard about this recently when we get back I will ask our accountants and lawyer to investigate options.” That short exchange set the tone for the rest of the evening. The cocktail hour was relaxed and jovial. Carl, Terry and Lucas sensed that the tension in the group was continuing to disappear. Carl invited the men to brave the weather and get in the hot tub.  Jones, the IT manager, asked, “OK, if I go nude? I like it better that way.”  Four naked managers wrapped in towels scurried across the deck with the snow swirling and plunged into the bubbling, hot water.

As the evening was winding down Lucas noticed Thorsen speaking quietly to Joban and pointing at something in the snowy front yard. After they stepped away he looked into the front yard and could see only the lighted flag pole without a flag flying.

After the men left about one o’clock the next afternoon Carl, Terry and Lucas sat together. Terry spoke, “The session was a success and probably gave the men more confidence in Carl’s ability to lead a successful company but also help each of them be more successful.  But there is something that the managers know and aren’t saying. I guess that’s OK if it doesn’t affect getting the work done.” Carl hoped that Lucas and Terry would stay over since February weather was threatening. Instead they both insisted that they had to go and drove off.

After Lucas got to the condo and took a shower, he decided to order Chinese takeout. As he sat in his bathrobe waiting for the delivery, his cell phone rang. He picked it up and heard Olaf’s voice, “Hello, handsome, you missing me?”

“What I wouldn’t give to have your legs wrapped around me right now.”

“Well, that might happen sooner than you think.  I’m coming back to Minnesota to be with my father during heart valve surgery.  Any chance you can come to Minneapolis for the weekend in a couple of weeks?”

“Yes, I’ll make the drive, assuming the weather cooperates. Where will we stay?

“You pick the hotel and I’ll pay.”

Lucas met Olaf at the Radisson in downtown Minneapolis. They went straight to the room. The initial sexual event lasted only minutes, because they were both so horny. Olaf said, “Well, that was fast. Let’s take it slower next time.”

At dinner Olaf brought Lucas up to date on his father’s surgery, which had gone well. He surprised Lucas by telling him that he was thinking about resigning his Navy commission and returning to Minnesota. “How’s the Vilas Country investigation going?” Olaf continued.

Lucas replied, “A lawyer from Eagle River called Carl, informing him that the trial was starting next week. Apparently they indicted a fellow named Michelson who was driving the boat that hit Swensen.”     

Olaf said, “I don’t have anything to do, so I’ll drive over.” Lucas returned to Chicago after his lust filled time with Olaf. Three days later Olaf called Lucas to tell him he was in Eagle River. “Lucas, prosecution is accusing the boat driver of manslaughter.  I was in the courtroom at the start of the trial and heard everything the prosecutor said.  The evidence seems to be based on two eye witness reports but neither was very close to the accident.  As you told me the defendant’s a guy named Bradley Michelson. He was driving the boat that killed Swensen but said it was an accident. His lawyers moved for the case to be dismissed.  The judge said he would consider that request and delayed the trial for two weeks.”

“Was that all?” Lucas asked. “You had to drive along way to find out what you could have read in the paper?”

“No, that wasn’t all. I had planned to stay overnight, thinking the trial would be short, but not that short. As I walked out of the courtroom, I introduced myself as a friend of Swensen. Whether it was my exceptional good looks or because I was a new face in town, the young man and woman who were in the prosecutor’s office agreed to have coffee with me.”

“So what’d you find out?”

“When they asked why I was interested, I first told them I was a Marine working for the State Department but assured them there was no federal issue to worry about. That seemed enough, so I asked them if they thought Swensen was murdered. After some hemming and hawing, the young man inappropriately said, “The guy Michelson did not accidentally run over Swensen. Too many people said otherwise. The problem we are having is finding a motive. Swensen’s wife, who he was divorcing, brought the complaint to our boss. She suggested that he was killed by a jilted lover. We have not been able to find any connection between Michelson and Swensen. Swensen was from Waukesha, and this guy Michelson was from Walsworth.”

Olaf continued, “The female prosecutor said, ‘our boss, the chief prosecutor, wanted this case brought to trial. He seems to be doing Swensen’s wife a favor.  Mark and I questioned his decision because of the lack of concrete evidence.  I won’t be surprised if the judge throws the case out and rules Swensen’s death as an accident’.”

“Anything else?”

“No, but can we get hold of Swensen’s will?”

“I’ll talk to Carl and see if he has a copy. I remember him telling Terry and me that the purchase of Moraine was difficult because of the will.  I don’t remember exactly what he said.”

“OK, babe, I have to pack.  Look for me in a couple of months.”

The snow melted in late March and Carl invited Lucas up. When he asked if Henry was going to be there Carl said that Henry was on an international trip. He said, “I have Swensen’s will, don’t you want to see it?”

When Lucas arrived, Carl was nervously skipping around the house. Lucas hadn’t been there thirty minutes when Carl said, “Do you want to have sex with me? I’ll understand if you don’t, but we have great sex together.”

Lucas, having gone without since Olaf had left, said, “Sure.”

“Let’s have champagne to celebrate the results of your successful retreat. It is amazing how things have gotten better.” As they undressed, Carl talked about his weekly manager meetings and the openness of the managers. Carl told Lucas about new clients as he stroked Lucas’s dick. Carl finally stopped and started his hard kissing. “Sorry, I am excited. I forget this isn’t all about me.”

The sex was mechanical and not satisfying.  After they showered Carl said, “Why don’t you read the will while I grill some steaks. I think it might be warm enough to eat on the porch.”

Lucas read the will, which clearly stated that Swensen’s wife got little out of the estate. Most of Swensen’s money was put in trust for his children’s college education. Since he didn’t have children, disposal of the bulk of his estate was given to his brother. He did leave some money to an AIDS charity, his Lutheran church, the Swedish Brotherhood, and a halfway house for sexually abused children. What was most interesting was the item Swensen had crossed out, initialed, and dated: a $100,000 gift to the local Boy Scout council to go toward the purchase of a new camp. Carl and Lucas discussed the will over dinner but couldn’t make anything more out of it.

Carl said, “I had the landscaping company come and aerate the lawn, rake the mulch, clean the leaves out of the bushes, and generally clean up the pool area earlier this week. The crew included that young fellow who delivered plants last fall.  He and his friend lingered when the other crew left. They approached me, and the one that did you, Bret, introduced the other one, Chuck, and asked if I wanted to hire them to keep the place in top shape for the summer. His exact words were, ‘We like working here.’

“Lucas, I thought you might be interested because of what you said happened in my basement last year.  Anyway, I asked the guys if they owned a mover because that is why I contracted with the landscaping firm.

“Bret said, ‘We’ll have to rent it. It would be cheaper if you bought one.’ I told them I would think about it. I asked if they knew how to keep a pool clean and sanitized. They assured

me they would find out, since they had a friend who works for the only pool cleaning company around.

Carl smiled and continued, “I asked how much they would charge me. Bret looked at Chuck like ‘help me,’ and Chuck said, “If you hired the landscaping company, they’d charge one hundred dollars a week. We’ll do if for fifty if you provided the lawn mower and gasoline. They said they would do the pool for another twenty-five dollars if I provided the chemicals.

“So I told them to come back on Saturday and I’d have the mower, but that I’d want to know their plan for keeping the pool clean. They returned Saturday, right after the hardware store delivered the new John Deere wide-cut riding mower. I was sitting on it when they got here, and Chuck said, ‘We’re back. That thing is a monster!’ I told them I wanted the grass cut smoothly and regularly, and I asked what they could tell me about the pool.”

Lucas was getting bored and said, “Carl, spare me the details.”

Carl snapped at Lucas’s impatience, “You’ll see where this is going in a couple of minutes. Anyway, Chuck pulled out a tester for pH and alkaline. He said I need to test the chemicals weekly and whenever I’ve had people in the pool, to see that they’re in balance. He told me I need two chemicals—chlorine and bromine—which they would get for me at the Home Depot and store in the garage. They’re supposed to unroll the cover, clean and backwash the filters, and vacuum the bottom every time they come out. That’s it. I showed them the garage key and invited them to come in for a Coke. They seemed anxious and said they wanted to get to Home Depot. I told them I’d put the seventy-five dollars by the pool chemicals if I wasn’t around.

“So then I went inside to get money for the chemicals. The boys were standing by the backdoor, and I overheard them talking about Boy Scouts. Bret said, ‘Remember when we came to swim naked in the pool and do other things with Mr. Swensen and the other leaders?’ And Chuck said he thought it was perverted.  At that point I intentionally came outside. Nothing more was said, except we agreed that Wednesday would be the day they came to work.”

“Carl, sorry I got testy, Lucas replied. “We have to find out if and how the Swensens, Thorsen, and Joban are or were involved with Boy Scouts.” 

Lucas’s call to the Moraine District office in Waukesha got a cool reception. The registrar said that the records were private.  She did tell Lucas that the LCA Lutheran Church Swensen attended sponsored a troop. He called the church, and the woman who answered said the pastor was new and the church no longer sponsored a troop.

Back home in Chicago, Lucas knew that he needed to relook at Moraine’s personnel records to see if there was any mention of Scouting. He knew that would be difficult without raising the suspicions of Jerry Joban, the human relations manager. When he called Carl to inquire about looking at the personnel records Carl said, “Joban resigned to take a new position in Milwaukee. I am not unhappy that Joban left.”

              After they had set a date for Lucas to come to Moraine, Lucas said, “Olaf is coming home for good soon. He decided not to renew his commission. He isn’t sure what he is going to do. He didn’t but he agreed to stay at my condo for a while.”

Before the conversation ended, Lucas said, “What if I suggest that Olaf apply for the position of Director of Human Resources and Security? I suspect he doesn’t know much about human resources management, but I could teach him. Olaf does know the security business.”

“I like the idea, but let me think about it. He couldn’t drive from Chicago. Where would he live?”

Immediately after finishing up his call with Carl, Lucas composed a long email to Olaf, telling him about the conversation that Carl had overheard from the lawn boys, and about his suspicions regarding the Boy Scout leaders.  Finally, he mentioned Carl’s human resources position. Less than twenty-four hours later, Olaf responded positively to the idea of applying for the job and told Lucas he had written to Carl.  He continued that Carl had already written back, offering him the position if Lucas would tutor him.

Lucas and Olaf arrived at Carl’s on the Wednesday prior to Memorial Day and found the boys mowing and edging. They weren’t friendly but gave a polite wave.  When they finished, Carl invited the two guys to take a break on the porch. Olaf was introduced to Bret and Chuck and asked them to tell him a little about themselves. They clammed up, finished their Cokes, and returned to their truck. Olaf said, “We have to find out more about what the boys knew.”

That night Carl fixed dinner to celebrate his new human resources manager. Lucas and Olaf were looking forward to a quiet holiday weekend at Carl’s. Saturday morning, as they sat in the hot tub drinking coffee, Olaf suggested that Carl surprise Bret and Chuck when they were swimming in the pool.  Carl had mentioned that he had seen wet foot prints around the pool when he came home a few days prior.

After Carl refilled their coffee cups he rejoined them.  Lucas said, “When you hear what I have to say you may say, ‘Forget it. Who cares?”  Doing anything to find out more may damage Moraine Plastics.  And what would be accomplished anyway?” He paused and continued, “My theory may seem farfetched, but I suspect that this house was used by the Scout leaders as a magnet for young Boy Scouts. They were never caught, as far as we know.  Swensen’s death in Vilas County was suspicious and is still not resolved, correct Olaf?” Olaf nodded his head.  “Finally, if the Boy Scout executives found out that Swensen was a sexual predator, they may have had something to do with Swensen’s death. His death closed the files. Equally important, were Swensen’s managers—Joban, Thorsen, and Bjorn Swensen complicit? That is why it is so important to find out what happened to your lawn boy.  Carl, you need to find a way to catch them swimming.”

Olaf said, “But aren’t Joban and Bjorn Swensen married?”

Carl said, “Yes, they all are or were. Bjorn Swensen is dead and left a wife and several adult children.  Are you suggesting these guys were child molesters?”

Sensing Carl’s growing anger, Lucas said, “All this is a theory with little evidence.  As I said we, may decide to leave the entire matter buried. What makes me angry is the fact that organized Boy Scouting may have been involved in the coverup.

Carl spoke up, “The more you say, the more I want to sell this place and move into Chicago with Henry.”

“That may happen in due time, but right now this house is too important to getting answers.”

Carl spoke up, “Lucas, but things are going well with my managers, including Thorsen. Why rock the boat?”

“That is why it’s your call. I may not be objective about this situation because of what a priest made me do against my will years ago. I have had many nightmares but the most recent one happened after Bret sucked me in your basement. I may be trying to exorcise my experience with the Catholic priest.  Let’s think about it.”

After Carl and Henry went to bed, Olaf said to Lucas, “I’m like you. I want to expose the hypocrisy, but I want to do it in such a way that the national organization can’t say we don’t have any evidence and brush it under the rug. Scouting is good for young guys. When I was a Scout, I didn’t worry about being molested. I thought it was fun to be with guys my age and do fun things.

Carl called Olaf in after his Friday staff meeting and said, “Finally, Wednesday afternoon I got home really early and found the boys floating on rafts in the pool. They scrambled for their clothes. I told them I was coming to swim. I fixed them each a stout bourbon and Coke in hopes of loosening their tongues. I jumped in and playfully grabbed Bret’s raft and tipped it over. The boys seemed relaxed when I invited them to have their drinks.  I had towels handy, hoping to keep them out of their clothes. Both guys are skinny so I had plenty of towels.

“Then they started sipping their drinks, and I asked them, ‘Last fall I heard you guys say you have swum in this pool before. When was that?’ And then they looked at each other, and Bret told me that Swensen had had their Boy Scout patrol out to the house sometimes for swimming and pizza parties.

“Then I asked whether they had also swum naked back then. I said I thought that’s the best way to swim, and Bret said, ‘Yeah. Mr. Swensen told us it was better for the pool water if we swam naked. I like swimming naked.’

“ Bret continued and told me that, every two or three weeks, in both summer and winter, they would come and camp out in the basement room.

So I said, ‘Too cold to be naked in the winter,’ and he said, ‘No, no, we ran around the basement naked, because Mr. Swensen kept the house really warm.’ I decided I’d gone far enough and encouraged the fellows to continue their yard work. I intentionally stayed undressed and worked around the pool with the plants. I figured that the more comfortable the guys got with me, the more information they were likely to divulge.

Olaf said, “Good work, boss. Now I have to start getting to know the managers better.”        Olaf intentionally befriended Marshall Thorsen and Carl Boldt, who had been hired by Swensen.  He was invited to join their Saturday morning golf games. He played tennis with Marshall on Wednesday evenings. In addition, Olaf began to inquire about becoming a Boy Scout leader, even though he knew that the new rules allowed gay boys to be scouts but not gay leaders. He contacted the scoutmaster of the troop sponsored by the local Methodist Church and volunteered to demonstrate karate with a fellow Marine he knew from Milwaukee. The scoutmaster thought it was a great idea and asked if he could invite several other troops to the demonstration.

In late July, at the Boy Scout summer camp, Olaf scheduled the demonstration. He met several troop leaders and members of the council leadership committee. One of the council members, Geoff Johansen, invited Olaf to lunch and a round of golf at the Waukesha Country Club.  The fellow was about his own age and physical ability.  Olaf’s gaydar was working.  After the round of golf, he strutted around the locker room without the expected towel wrapped around him and watched as Johansen pretended not to stare.   After the lunch he invited Geoff to golf with Marshall, Boldt, and himself the following weekend. Boldt had to bow out that Saturday, so it turned out to be three of them.

Sitting in the bar, after playing their round of golf, Geoff asked Marshall. “Weren’t you a Boy Scout…you look so familiar.”

Olaf noticed Marshall’s discomfort. “Yes, I was but never got beyond First Class.

What about you? Are you an Eagle Scout?”

“No, I came to the program recently.  It is interesting times with all the gay stuff going on.”

Olaf jumped in, “I was a scout, too, for a short time.  But 4-H took most of my time.”

Johansen said, “Why don’t you guys get involved? It’s a great program.” Neither Marshall nor Olaf said anything.  Olaf didn’t want to reveal that he was totally negative on scouting because of the national response to the gay issue. The conversation ended with the three agreeing to play golf again.