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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 40

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Tuesday 19 December 1989

Roberto reached Mar del Plata just in time to attend the meeting he had convened; his three close friends had gathered on time. They were aware of the seriousness of the situation, because Burán’s daughter, Julieta, had read them the letter and they were all waiting, expectant and worried. They didn’t make any of the usual jokes; on the contrary, they kept silent. Burán embraced them affectionately one by one.

Adolfo Bernard has been his companion almost since childhood, they grew up together, sharing the same desk in secondary school, the same joys and heartaches. In life’s tough apprenticeship, each step, each romance, each worry for one of them, the other one would know about it. They both studied law at the same university, always tied by primordial experiences, and they offered mutual support in the most difficult moments, at the most painful times, giving each other absolute trust.

Bernard is fifty-one, tall, thin, dark-haired and has a thick moustache. He has a sharp critical spirit, can stand neither disorder, corruption, nor generalised mediocrity. His desire to improve the system inclines him towards authoritarianism and he is sceptical about democracy. In spite of himself, he thinks the Argentinean people have not evolved enough to govern themselves; history suggests that he is partly correct, because since 1930, dictatorships have spent more time in power than democratic governments. On this point, perhaps the only important one, the two bosom buddies disagree. But the enormous affection that binds them makes it impossible for them to collide seriously. Besides, the unbreakable honesty of Adolfo rules out any mean self-interest on his part.

Federico Lizter is a bit older, around fifty-three years old. Lately he’s very obese, which he dislikes deeply. However, he doesn’t make sufficient effort to lose weight. Of medium build, he has long blond hair, splashed with white streaks. He is proud of his Germanic origins; born in Berlin, he arrived in Argentina when he was an eleven year-old child. During the second war and the months following the cessation of hostilities, his family had had a very bad time in Germany, so they emigrated to the other end of the earth, leaving behind a real nightmare. It wasn’t easy for them to adapt to this new country, with a different language and idiosyncrasies. In spite of this, fighting against adversity, with resolve and solid affectionate ties, they made progress. The early poverty they experienced did not prevent Federico developing to the maximum his intellectual faculties, his love of studying and his respect for culture. He had a strict upbringing, substantially influenced by his mother’s Puritanism, which made impressions on his personality that were impossible to erase. Brought up in the country, his blue eyes shine when anyone talks about going fishing or setting out on an adventure in some unexplored region. He is a drifter, a vagabond disguised as a legal adviser. He loves the simple life, taking advantage of time, which he knows is limited and unrepeatable, inexorably passing by. He possesses an uncommon intelligence and his love of reading gives him a cultural solvency much higher than the country’s average. In the last decade, his character has become notably more flexible, unconsciously separating incorporated dogmas, although it is very difficult for him to move away from these irrational barriers, with which he has learnt to live. His Germanic pride does not allow him to lower himself by taking part in shady deals of dubious morality. In this respect, his Puritanism has had a positive influence. Because of his undisputed capacity he is considered a prestigious jurist and his fame has transcended the limits of Mar del Plata.

Fernando Ridenti does not practise his profession, he has devoted himself to business activity with enormous success. He is fifty-five, five feet eight tall, has green eyes and brown hair. In his youth he displayed an independent, restless and untameable spirit. Maturity finds him calmer, reflective, prudent in his decisions. He has great intuition, amazing mental lucidity. No detail escapes his scrutinising gaze and, when he expresses an opinion of a person, he is rarely mistaken. With Ridenti, it’s best to lay your cards on the table, it’s useless to try and trick him, because he guesses everything, he knows when his interlocutor is sincere. If that is the case, he respects them. If not, when someone tries to trick him, he notices it immediately and is usually implacable. He is a hypochondriac, always tortured by some strange symptom which does not affect his good health. Naturally selfish, he leads his companies imposing his rigorous personal criteria which inexorably turns out to be fruitful, but so much personal effort has worn him out prematurely. That’s why he is rethinking his attitudes, re-evaluating his life, favouring the personal. Roberto has always accompanied him, right from when Fernando hardly had resources; they have always been tied by a spontaneous affection, inexplicably founded when they were only university students. Their friendship strengthened as the years went by. Burán always thought of him as a friend, not a client. Ridenti took no advantage of it, as he had demonstrated more than once.

Besides their profession, the three of them had a detail in common, which at the same time differentiated them from Roberto: they had well-established families.

The main office of Burán’s practice was neither large nor luxurious, but it was comfortable. They sat down there, around an old round table that had belonged to Roberto’s paternal grandmother. The owner of the house self-assuredly started the dialogue, his companions were also good friends among themselves, which allowed a great informality between them.

“Fellas, I asked you to come because I’m in a real mess... Julieta has already told you that I’ve received a summons. I want to make something clear, I never went to bed with that trollop! Never! Not even when I met her many years ago. Therefore, it’s clear that I didn’t impregnate her, at least not personally...”

His friends looked at each other in surprise, they didn’t understand the suggestion.

“Wait, it’ll all become clear, I’ll keep it short. That bitch was artificially inseminated with my sperm, without my knowledge, of course... I’m sure it was like that.”

Adolfo was the first to react.

“But, how could it be? How did they extract your semen? Didn’t you realise? Don’t tell me you were drunk,” he added with a smile.

Were it not for the naturalness of his behaviour with them, Burán would have blushed; he felt really stupid. He answered, “It was Alicia.”

The only answer was silence; they were all dumbstruck. They knew her and none of them and thought she was capable of such an act. They had liked the girl, they liked her affable character and the respect she showed for Burán. Roberto continued, “According to her, she did it pressurised by a gynaecologist, Esteban Álvez... Her little sister of only thirteen was two and a half months pregnant. Nobody wanted to do an abortion because she had neither money nor paternal authorisation, in addition she has coagulation problems, it was dangerous to operate. Alicia was desperate, according to her she had no option, I don’t know... What is unquestionable is that she hooked up with me deliberately to lead me into the trap. When we went to bed for the first time, she insisted that I use a condom, saying that she could get pregnant. As you can imagine, she kept the rubber and handed it over to the doctor who was behind it all; it never even crossed my mind that I might get tricked like that.”

“Is she prepared to help you” asked Fernando, “To tell the whole truth?”

“I suppose so,” answered Roberto, “when she told me everything, I didn’t want to stay by her side for a single minute. I think she’ll do what I ask, I hope so, but it’ll be no use to me...”

“Why not?” said Fernando.

“Who would believe my lover?” answered Roberto, “what’s more, she’d have procedural ineligibility to declare in my favour. This scum bag, Juanita Artigas, did everything very well... I’ve already told you she was trying to seduce me with unusual determination. Now I can see that she was creating the ‘mise en scène’, making it look convincing. Now who’s going to believe I didn’t screw her?”

“Nobody!” said Fernando and Adolfo in unison.

“Besides, she’s not that bad,” added Adolfo with a smile, although no one followed up his joke...

Roberto went on speaking.

“I was thinking a lot during the journey... You know very well that I’m a neophyte in family law, I need your brains. I know you lot aren’t specialists either, but all the same I’m asking you to help me find solutions, strategies, something. I’m half lost, I don’t want to lose control. It would be a serious error for me to take charge of this mess, my own lawsuit, personally. I need to find someone else who can handle it, someone objective. In addition, I want to analyse all the existing possibilities. I don’t want to leave anything to chance. You’ll understand that the matter has some very tricky connotations; they’re trying to fraudulently lumber me with a child. One for now; I hope there won’t be more later on.”

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