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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 7

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Saturday 22 April 1989, 10:00

Juanita arrived at Doctor Álvez’s office without taking directions from anyone. It was familiar territory for her, her relationship with him was an old and very special one. Natural accomplices, their alliance had weathered the passing of time.

Juanita is not a beautiful woman, but she has her charms. She is naturally dominant and does not like having her opinions contradicted. She scorns weakness and, used to overshadowing men, she handles them at will with her energetic character. When she meets an equal, she collides head-on, drifting towards an inevitable break-up. Álvez is the only exception, they understand each other. Juanita cannot subjugate him, which irritates her but at the same time attracts her irresistibly. In her way she loves him deeply, although she would never tell him. He doesn’t need her to; his intuition told him a long time ago, he can perceive it in her every gesture, in her words. They see each other irregularly but frequently, respecting each other’s privacy. This delicate equilibrium does not conform to the classical. Socially aberrant, it consists of sex, a pinch of sadomasochism and lots of affection. They have a strange, multi-faceted relationship. They have been lovers for more than a decade, and except for a few periods where they drifted apart, there haven’t been any big changes. Juanita is a typical descendant of Arabs, she has an olive-coloured complexion and straight hair as black as her vivacious eyes. She is five foot six tall, her body is harmonious without calling attention to itself. She has good hips, small breasts and, above all, a beautiful pair of legs. But the most captivating thing about Juana is her seductiveness, her feminine aggression. She knows so well how to channel it like an arrow against her male prey. Thanks to her great intelligence, she usually gets the better of the men who get close to her; she is experienced and knows human passions. She is neither prejudiced nor sensitive, on the contrary, she’s as hard as rock. Men are mere objects for her to use. She knows how to attract them, to pretend to be passionate when necessary or naive when it is in her interest. These characteristics could lead an analyst to define her as cruel, selfish or malignant, although these definitions might be too severe to cover such a complicated personality as hers. Since she was a little girl, she has been surrounded by a sordid, suffocating atmosphere. She was a slave to the paternal authoritarianism which also oppressed her mother. She must have forged her character by reacting against that dominant force. She decided to handle it with intelligence, Machiavellian, assuming the appropriate behaviour to achieve it, without worrying about the means. In that way she managed to make her life bearable, giving up a fair proportion of her dignity, until she left home at eighteen. From the house of her birth, in Buenos Aires, she moved to Mar del Plata, a kind of Argentinean paradise. Thus her life continued, making progress in work. Her abilities assured her good jobs. An agile typist, she speaks fluent English and programs computers, she has a way with people, knows how to keep secrets, collaborates with her employers in small, important details. Occasionally, she has gone to bed with one of them, because she liked doing it and besides, it was in her own interests to do it. She always obtains some satisfaction from her relationships, even when her affections are dormant, perhaps buried in some nook or cranny of her distant childhood. She is thirty-two years old, her biological clock is crying out for a child. Just lately this thought assaults her and prevents her sleeping. She wants to have a baby, but she wants its father to be strong, lucid, proud and dignified. She repudiates the feeble, weak-spirited men she comes into contact with on a day-to-day basis. She’s looking for someone respectable. She knows that it won’t be easy to be a mother, looking after a child would limit her at work and in her love-life; it could cause her instability. She has always got by brilliantly on her own, it’s easy to manipulate men that way. It’s different with a kid to look after, difficult to get a good job or to keep it later on. These two aspects are difficult to render compatible. It’s vital for her to maintain her standard of living, which is good without being sumptuous. What’s more, having a child would mean she would have to hire somebody to help bring it up, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to go on working. Juanita doesn’t have any good friends, male or female, with the exception of Silvia, her confidante since they were teenagers. Only she knows the twists and turns of her mind and the bitter experiences that she lived through when she was a child; she loves her in a special way, more than her own mother. She feels sorry for her because of her faintheartedness, her ignorance and the submissiveness which she always displays. She thinks that if things had been different, she wouldn’t have been so unhappy. Within the framework of this situation, the relationship with Álvez is one of the few bright details which can be highlighted. Having fun, pretending, they have maintained a subterranean relationship, hidden from the eyes of the world. More than once they have shared a table with the temporary partner of one or the other, pretending to be linked by a friendship lacking in sex. But it’s not like that at all, they both enjoy going to bed together, they pretend because they like laughing at their fellows. Each one is in their own way blessed with a hint of womaniser or man-eater which makes them con artists. He has always helped her, providing her with contacts, getting her jobs, giving her money and terminating three unwanted pregnancies, one of which was his own. Juanita Artigas tells him her intimacies, she satisfies her most basic instincts with him, enjoying herself. He loves the passion she brings when offering herself up, she is a woman without limits when making love. There’s a certain evil bind between them, a strange, almost tangible, relationship which allows them to communicate with self-confidence, speaking everything, refusing nothing.

“Juanita... I asked you to come for serious reasons, although afterwards I’m going to do one or two little things to you,” said Álvez, kissing her on the mouth. “I want to put forward a stupendous piece of business. It takes a lot of bravery to face up to it, it’s a big matter, I want you to think about it carefully; only when you’re completely sure should you give me your answer as to whether you accept or not. What I’m about to tell you is a secret, nobody should know about it apart from us. Do you understand?”

“You’re boring me, darling. Speak more clearly! Can’t you see I’m dying of curiosity?”

“Relax,” said Álvez.

He was toying with her anxiety.

“Get on with it! Tell me once and for all what’s going on. You’re bullying me because you know I love you.”

OK,” he said, “but you’re aware that the matter is serious, aren’t you?”

“Yes! Stop it Esteban! You know you can count on me, I suppose you trust me. Or don’t you?”

“Are you sweetening the pill?” said Álvez.

“Come on darling! There’s no need for all this scheming between us, you know who I am, what I can give you, that I love you as you are, intelligent, sensual and bad to boot. In a way I’m yours, so don’t beat around the bush with me, tell me everything.”

Juana was getting turned on while she was talking like that. She went up to the doctor and started to caress him. She unbuttoned his shirt kissing him passionately, but Álvez pushed her away delicately...

“Wait, let me go, Juani,” he said, “don’t get angry, but I want to talk to you first. Now listen carefully to what I’m going to say. Are you ready?”

“You left me trembling, you bad boy, but I’ll try to listen.”

Smiling, he sat behind the luxurious desk in his office, as if to give his rhetoric solemnity, showing off...

OK, look Juani, until recently I was in a good economic situation, I wanted for nothing, but now I’m in trouble. Even so, I give myself a comfortable life, I like women, as you know and understand. I’m divorced, my son doesn’t love me very much and perhaps he’s right. I’ve made numerous errors in the past. To be honest, I should acknowledge that bar one or two exceptions, I don’t regret anything I’ve done, perhaps rather what I haven’t done. I’m distanced from Jorge and I don’t know how to tackle this problem; I’m not the father he needs, I’ve tried getting close to him but he rejects me, he finds it hard to have anything to do with me. I admit that it hurts me, but I have to understand that he’s going through adolescence, before long he’ll make an independent life for himself, which seems logical to me. In short, I’m more and more alone and I want to live well what’s left of my life, which isn’t that much...”

“Excuse me,” said Juanita, “what’s up with your economic situation?”

“I’d say it wasn’t the best, Juani, I owe a lot of money. If I go on like this I’ll have to sell the practice to pay it off.”

“But how did it come to this, Esteban? You earn a lot of money, I don’t understand.”

“Fundamentally for two reasons, the first and main one is my old liking for gambling. The second one is the trial that I lost two years ago to your old pal Roberto Burán. You remember him, don’t you?”

“Yes, I thought you’d got over that...”

“It’s not that easy Juanita, I lost loads of money. And unfortunately for me, I carried on gambling... As you will understand, I still want to give myself the good life, do beautiful things. That means travelling like a duke, having my own yacht, sailing around the Mediterranean, around the Caribbean... In short, living adventures seriously, getting away from the mediocrity that we have here; I want more, much more, do you understand? Wash my hands of the future knowing that I’ll live without economic problems, without having to work.”

Juanita was surprised by this sudden confession of boredom and ambition. She nodded without saying a word. He went on speaking enthusiastically...

“And well, I’m tired of risking my neck every day in this profession, I’ve had enough of it. It’s too risky, as you know. I earn a lot of money, I don’t deny it, each abortion pays quite well, but I’ve had enough of balancing on a tightrope, one mistake means falling without a safety net. Although I behave cautiously and know how to work, the nervous tension I feel is inevitable, I’ve had enough, Juanita... That’s why I say, do you know what the way out is?”

She took a chance...

“Stop doing abortions?”

He burst out laughing.

“No, Juani, don’t be silly, that’s how I earn a crust. No, what I need is to do something that means a lot of money for me, allows me to forget economic problems. Something that lets me live freely, without conditions for the rest of my life.”

“Listen to him!” she said. “Who wouldn’t like that?”

“But I’ve found the way,” answered Álvez, “I’ve thought about it long and hard, I’ll take legal advice, but I need you. I can’t do it alone... I need a trustworthy ally ready for anything, a woman who doesn’t lay down conditions with me. Only you meet these conditions. I know you won’t betray me, there’s too much between us. What’s more you’ll benefit greatly thanks to me. Of course, if you come in on the business you’ll have to make me a will, in case anything happens to you...”

Juanita, clearly angry, raised her voice.

“I’ve had enough! Either you tell me what it is or I’m going. Stop playing with me! If you think I’m a mere slip of a lass, you’re mistaken. Goodbye...!”

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
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Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
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Date of publicationMay 2002
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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