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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 23

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Thursday 4 May 1989

“The moment of truth has arrived,” said Álvez, “I’ve got everything prepared, the dose is ready. Don’t go getting nervous, think of it as a moment of happiness.”

The doctor was alone with Juana Artigas in his practice, ready to inject her with Roberto Burán’s semen. Juanita was ovulating, so it was the right moment for her to be artificially inseminated. She would only have a few hours of fertility. Álvez took lots of precautions, he couldn’t afford to make a mistake in the calculations. Juanita was upset, the situation unbalanced her enormously, making her anguished. She couldn’t help thinking that she was taking a giant step, with no return. She was going to conceive a child. The last few nights she had tormented herself thinking about the seriousness of her decision and the effect it would have on her future. At first she had her doubts, she almost changed her mind, but finally she decided to go ahead. Still overwhelmed by the responsibility, by fear of the consequences, she opted to run the risk. She hoped to obtain the economic security that she had always yearned for and, at the same time, share her future with Álvez. He had assured her that they would share the money they could get out of Burán and that they would spend more time together. This possibility filled Juanita with hope. She liked nothing more than being with her gallant gynaecologist.

“Juani, you’re just right,” said Álvez, “your temperature shows that you’re in full ovulation. We’ll give a warm welcome to our prey’s sperm. Get undressed, will you?”

“I say, Esteban, it’s not going to hurt, is it?”

“Don’t be a scaredy cat, Juani, don’t you trust me? Pull your panties down, hurry up! For scientific purposes this time, eh? Forgive me, but on this occasion I can’t do anything else to you, not that I wouldn’t like to, I assure you!”

“It annoys me that you joke about these things,” said Juana, “it’s a very serious business. You kill yourself laughing because it’s me who gets pregnant, you’re such a clown.”

“Well, my love!” said Álvez, “don’t be like that, you’re very sensitive. Haven’t we already talked about this? Didn’t we agree that the decision had been taken? Are you having doubts now?”

“No! Well, I don’t know! What do you want me to say? This is very difficult for me. I’ve got to open my legs so that you can inject me with semen from some poor guy who we’re going to swindle, I dread to think what a fuss he’s going to kick up! He’ll want to destroy us. We could go to prison, no less! And you want me to laugh my head off, not to make such a big deal of it. Who’s disoriented here? Surely it’s you, don’t you think?”

“But, baby, don’t just look at the negative aspects, you’re forgetting, your financial worries are over, if he want to sort out the pregnancy business, Burán will have to behave like a generous duke. If the worst comes to the worst, he’ll have to pay a very juicy monthly allowance, which you’ll administrate. You’re always be comfortably off. Besides, didn’t you drive me mad for months saying that you wanted to have a baby? What now? Have you forgotten all about it?”

“You’re a swine, I’ve explained to you a thousand times that I wanted to have it with you. Stop acting stupid, you know that very well!”

“Look, Juanita, I’ll be honest, I’ve told you so many times, I don’t want to have any more children. You know me, don’t ask me for what I can’t give you. For you the choice is very simple, either you have a child with any old man, without any economic profit, or you make the most of the opportunity and have a fat cat’s child. You’re not stupid, you know the second option is the better one. So I advise you to stop tormenting yourself. Cut it out, make a decision! But listen to me, once the deed has been done, that’s it! Don’t come crying to me that you’ve changed your mind, is that clear?”

“All right, I’ve made my mind up, I hope I don’t regret it. But I can’t do it just like that, so quickly, so mechanically, let me get used to the idea. Go on, offer me a glass of whisky, on the rocks, please.”

Juana leaned back on a cushion, trying to relax, to drift out of the state of tension which held her prisoner. Even for a woman as hard and cerebral as her, making incursions in such a dangerous terrain was worrying. From then on, if she got pregnant, she would forever be walking over a minefield; any error or omission could be fatal. She would be up against a heavyweight rival, she had no illusions about the opposition Roberto Burán would put up. She knew him, he was no idiot, he wouldn’t let himself be pushed around easily. If there was one thing that helped her stay calm, it was that she thought the plan drawn up by Álvez was nearly perfect. She thought it didn’t have any weak points, at least not of any importance. As for physical danger, she thought Burán was incapable of committing acts of violence against her. She’d had quite a lot of dealings with him, he was legalistic by conviction, but she didn’t know what his limits were, they would have to be careful. The idea of living without financial difficulties delighted her, she wanted to make up for so many years of sacrifices and privations. Meanwhile, she was convinced that a small ‘bite’ out of Burán’s wealth wouldn’t cause him any substantial damage. What problem would it be for Roberto if they took a million teensy-weensy dollars? Surely none. But it would come in very handy for her. Besides, although she hadn’t said anything to Álvez, she didn’t dislike the thought of Burán as the father of her future child. He was intelligent, healthy and not bad looking, what more could she ask for? Just one thing: she could ask for him to be rich, and he was. To think about the matter any more seemed half-ridiculous; she wanted that child, her maternal instinct spurred her on more and more, she needed to placate it. After all, she had almost gone to bed with Roberto in the past. She was almost there when she abruptly stopped seeing him. If it hadn’t been for that, they would surely have had sexual relations. It was only a short step from there to getting pregnant. All this was important to her, because although he wasn’t her partner, she thought it was allright to have a child by Roberto.

“All in all,” thought Juana, “the only thing deserving condemnation is that we are fraudulently imposing a child on Burán, but I won’t lose any sleep over that ethical problem. After all, if I didn’t sleep with him before, it was purely by chance. What worries me is the risk of being found out; I don’t like that at all. But how will they prove anything? I can’t think how.”

From the point of view of the interests of her child, Juanita did not dramatise. If, instead of Burán, another man got her pregnant, she would never tell her child the identity of the father. Not to avoid bothering him —which did not upset her— but so that he wouldn’t mess up the child. The child would have to be hers only; with Burán there would be one or two obstacles to overcome. With a bit of effort, her child would be convinced that the conception had been natural. Roberto’s version would be far-fetched, nobody would believe him. Hers, on the other hand, had solid foundations. Her child would be sure that the father was a bad guy who hadn’t hesitated to deny his paternity. He’d never want to see him. If Burán paid up in one go, there’d be a shroud of silence over the past and they would enjoy a fortune with the child. If the worst came to the worst, she would have the administration of a juicy monthly maintenance allowance. She would take care that the little one did not suffer serious psychological damage, although bearing in mind the difficult situation that would be generated with his father, it was almost impossible to avoid. For all these reasons, Juanita had decided to go ahead. For a woman like her, this meant foreseeing all the consequences, knowing no barriers and having no doubts. She possessed a strong personality. Supercillious; she was capable of tricking anybody, of feigning innocence, of playing the role of victim perfectly. Juanita drank the whisky slowly, tasting every sip with delicacy and satisfaction. She looked at the doctor and asked him:

“Tell me, dear, seeing as I’m going to put myself in your hands, I’d like to know, what do you know about artificial insemination? Where did you learn about it?”

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