After a Friday managers meeting, Olaf lingered until the others were gone and brought Carl up to date. Olaf told Carl about Geoff’s comments about what he knew about Swensen’s activities and the budding relationship between Marshall and Geoff. Olaf said, “I played golf recently with Geoff and Marshall and couldn’t tell any difference in their interaction.”
Carl mentioned that the company was being audited by the IRS, “There seem to be discrepancies in the tax returns in the last year or two of Swensen’s ownership of Moraine.”
“Why don’t you invite Geoff to come give you advice?” Olaf suggested. “I know you’ve already met him, but this way you could develop what might be an important professional relationship.”
Carl met with Geoff, along with Bill Waldron, the CFO, and Olaf. Carl had Waldron explain the discrepancies as Geoff listened intently. It appeared that liabilities had been overstated which brought the taxable income down significantly. Geoff said, “Let me meet with the auditors to find out what they’re planning to do. You may owe money.”
At the end of the meeting, Olaf walked Geoff out, intending to stop by Marshall’s office. That was not necessary, because Marshall was waiting in Carl’s outer office. Carl said, “Oh, I see the golfers are gathered. If you guys are looking for a fourth sometime let me know. I am rusty but used to play a lot.” The interaction was relaxed.
Geoff met with the auditors and impressed Waldron by how quickly the matter got resolved in Moraine’s favor. After the auditors left, Geoff informed Waldron and Carl that Moraine would probably get refunds for both 2008 and 2009, totaling $120,000. That was unexpected good news.
Carl used this news as an excuse to invite Geoff, Marshall, Lucas, and Olaf to his house for a celebratory meal. Henry was not flying and was easily persuaded to prepare enough food for everyone.
As cocktails got underway, Olaf watched as Marshall’s face became morose. Marshall excused himself to use the toilet. When he didn’t return, Olaf went to find him. He found Marshall in the master bedroom and asked, ”What’s wrong?” Marshall grabbed Olaf’s elbow, and they walked into the hall. There were tears flowing down Marshall's face and he said, “I’m having a hard time being in this house. I spent wonderful nights in that bed with Steve after he was separated from his wife. I was with him when he was killed. I loved him.”
Olaf played dumb. “You were with Swensen when he was killed?”
“I think Steve killed himself.”
“What do you mean?”
“I saw what happened, but I didn’t tell anyone.” Tears were running down his cheeks. “He didn’t fall off of the jet ski. He jumped off his jet ski. Almost instantly, the speed boat hit him.”
Olaf questioned, “Why would he do that? I shouldn’t pry….”
Steve was about to get caught. I had heard about a rumored scandal but was not involved personally.”
“What kind of scandal?”
“Steve liked young boys. I knew that. When we were together, he would say things like, ‘I know that guy’s cute naked,’ or ‘nice ass on that boy.’ I found out later that this house was a hangout for Boy Scouts and their leaders who did things with boys they shouldn’t have been doing.”
Olaf said, “So the Boy Scout council was going to expose him?”
“Yes, the authorities were ready to arrest him as a predator, along with several other leaders,” Marshall explained. “One was Bjorn Swensen, who used to work at Moraine. There was a investigative news article planned for the Waukesha Gazette the weekend Steve was killed. Because of Steve’s accident, council leaders were able to get the publisher to delay the story. It was going to be a big scandal but never developed into much.”
“So you think he arranged his own death. I know the boat that hit him was from the Supérieur Canoe Base, nowhere near Vilas County.”
“You heard the rumor?”
“Only by accident, but I cannot figure Michelson’s motive.”
“You know a lot.”
“As you probably remember when I started dating Lucas, he and his partner, Terry, were consulting for Carl’s firm to figure out why there was such tension between the Moraine managers. By the time the retreat took place, things had gotten better.”
“Bjorn’s death left only me and and Joban with knowledge of the scandal. Unfortunately, both Bjorn and Joban were Scout leaders. I decided to keep quiet. I probably shouldn’t have. We are doing well financially, after Carl became our owner. He is much more attentive to business than Steve was.”
Marshall continued, “Steve was distracted by his bitchy wife. I think he committed suicide to avoid being outed by the scandal. I really don’t have any proof, except I know I saw him jump off the jet ski and immediately got run over. Geoff told me he is looking into Moraine’s finances. I think Steve was playing fast and loose with the company money. He took me on a lavish trip to Rome and Barcelona on the company credit card.
“I thought I could get Steve away from the boys. I was sure he was going to get caught. After Steve’s death I went into a spiral and couldn’t work for almost two months. He was more than a good friend: he was my lover. I wanted him to be my partner, wanted his divorce to get finished so we could get on with our lives.”
Olaf suggested that they rejoin the group, after a quick detour to the bathroom for Marshall to wash his tears away. As they walked onto the pool deck, Marshall quietly asked, “What do you plan to do?”
“I really don’t know. But what upsets me ...us,” Olaf swept his arm toward the group, “is the hypocritical nature of the Boy Scout leadership. Steve’s behavior and that of the other leaders was reprehensible. Steve, for molesting the kids and then doing whatever would help him not to get caught, and the other leaders, for enabling him”
As they were pulling off their clothes, Marshall looked at Geoff, who was on the other side of the pool, and said, “I’m over Steve. Don’t get me wrong, I was concerned about the boys. I’m just hoping Geoff and I…”
“But he’s a Scout leader and he’s gay. Those two concepts are incompatible, right?”
“I’m not going to change his being gay, but maybe I can get him away from the Scouting organization.”
Smiling, Marshall joined Carl and Geoff in the pool as Lucas sat on the edge. Olaf sat down beside him. “What’s up?” Lucas asked.
“I have a lot to tell you, but I don’t want to be too obvious in front of the group. There’s a lot to digest.”
Dinner was set up casually on the porch. The wine and drinks flowed. Henry served in only an apron, with his bubble butt exposed. Carl invited everyone to stay overnight. Geoff was hesitant, but Marshall wanted to stay. After several attempts to find excuses, Geoff relented, and they followed Carl and Henry into the house. On the double lounger, Olaf pulled Lucas next to him and into his body and proceeded to tell Lucas what Marshall had told him.
Lucas asked few questions until he exclaimed, “Well, what the fuck do we do now? Are we going to let the Boy Scouts get away with it?”
Olaf said, “Get away with what? Steve solved their problem.”
“What about the boys, like Bret and other boys, who were victims?”
“Yes, that is a problem. Are you going to talk to Bradley Michelson to try to get him to admit what happened? If you find out he did kill Steve then you have another dilemma, Mr. Marine Leatherneck.”
“Damn, you’re right as usual. If we bring Geoff into the conversation, we may screw up Marshall’s relationship with him.”
“Let’s go to bed and fuck on it.”
“Sounds good to me!”
Between engaging in lustful sex and falling sleep, they decided to tell Marshall’s story to Carl. Olaf accomplished that on the following Monday. Carl mentioned that he would be seeing Bradley Michelson, who had a few final things left to do on the cabinets. He and Olaf decided that Carl would ask Michelson whether he knew of Swensen’s exploits.
Olaf was in Carl’s office the morning after Carl saw Michelson. Carl’s face was pale and pasty. “What happened?”
“Well, all I said was ‘Did you know Mr. Swensen?’ He literally collapsed on a kitchen stool, sobbing, and told me the story you told me. He said he didn’t mean to kill Swensen, just scare him. He said Swensen jumped into the water in front of the speed boat, which hit his head, and the propeller ground into him. He was hysterical, saying he wanted to kill himself.”
“So Steve Swensen did not hire Michelson to kill him?”
“It doesn’t sound like it. But who hired Michelson to scare him?”
Carl said, “Michelson said that from the moment he walked into my house to talk about cabinets, he felt sick. He had heard rumors about what went on with the boys but swore he wasn’t a part of it. He found out that the rumors were true from one of his Scouts. The boy told him that the Scouts had been going to Swensen’s to swim at times when no official Boy Scout activity had been planned. As scoutmaster, he knew about all the planned activities. He found out where Steve Swensen lived, drove by, and saw several familiar cars. He told me he also noticed that there was a Boy Scout troop flag flying on the pole in front of the house.
“The same boy later confirmed the naked swimming and sleepovers. Michelson shared that information with his liaison on the council staff. His contact thanked him for the information, and he heard nothing further until he took his troop to Supérieur. Three members of the council leadership met with him while he was there. They asked him if he would take one of the Scout boats over to Eagle River and scare Swensen. Really scare him. He said he was scared shitless. He suspected that what was going on at Swensen’s had gotten to the top levels of Scouting and that they thought they could get Steve to stop before a real scandal broke. What they didn’t plan on was Steve killing himself.”
Carl said, “Michelson repeated that he didn’t mean to cause Swensen’s death. He said he was relieved when Bjorn Swensen died, because that took one of the other scout leaders out of the picture. He didn’t mention anyone else. He seemed relieved to have told someone. I don’t think he cares what the consequences are.”
Olaf said, “Well, there we have it. What do you want to do with it?”
Carl said, “What do you think we should do?”
“It’s time to bring Geoff into the story. He’s gay and a scout leader which are two descriptors that officially don’t go together. I don’t think we should do it without Marshall being aware. Do you think he would come out and call the scouts on their hypocrisy?”
“I don’t know what he will do. He might.”