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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 42

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
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Roberto closed his eyes, he was being invaded by a growing desperation, he felt overwhelmed by the events. His own daughter, what he loved most in the world, could be a victim of his own naivety. Rubbing his face with both hands, he said, “Boys, as you can see, I need your help, I’m asking you, please, I’m very worried, I think the situation could become very serious. There are tricky precedents, something you ought to know. Álvez hates me. Three years ago, representing a client, I won a multi-million dollar case. It cost him a fortune to comply with the sentence and pay the fees. He almost went broke, he was furious, he tried to hit me, he threatened me, saying that I’d regret what I’d done... I took no notice, I didn’t think he was serious. Apparently, Esteban Álvez doesn’t need money, perhaps the main motive is revenge.”

“In that case, it’s even more risky,” said Fernando.

“That’s right,” answered Roberto, “that’s why I have to ask you something... I’ve still got to whip the idea into shape, I’ve only just started thinking about it. I can’t let these criminals defraud me with impunity, and I certainly can’t let them dance on my grave or Julieta’s. Given the circumstances, I have to proceed quickly, to discourage any conspiracy against me. Likewise, I’ve got to foresee what will happen if they manage to liquidate me in order to inherit. It’s clear that someone who survives should take charge. Boys, forgive me for what I’m going to ask of you, you are the people I trust most, the brothers I never had. I know you’re good people, but I also know you won’t let these bastards make a profit from murder and the death of my family. I need someone to take charge if I die. What occurs to me off the top of my head is this: leave a hundred thousand dollars deposited in Antonio’s notary’s office, which can be withdrawn indistinctly by any of you. If something strange happens to me, if I die violently or in suspicious circumstances, if anything similar happens to Julieta, I want you to use the money to liquidate Álvez and her, once she’s given birth. As for the child, make sure it wants for nothing. I’ll make a will so you can handle my inheritance; you hire a contract killer, don’t let Álvez and Juana get away with it. Forgive me for speaking like this, I know it’s barbarous to ask you to order a murder... But I do it consciously, you don’t necessarily all three have to agree. Any of you individually will be able to withdraw the money and do what’s best. I trust you completely, I’m never going to touch on the matter again, and no one else will know about it. I only ask for an answer, if you don’t agree, tell me, so I can replace you. I’ll explain to the notary that the sum deposited belongs to you, that you asked me to leave it in your names. Consequently, they won’t be able to prove any relation between you and I. I know one hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money; if you don’t need to spend it all, give the rest away, do what you want, I don’t care. I await your answer...”

The three of them were quiet for a few seconds, they didn’t know what to say.

“Count on me,” said Adolfo finally.

Federico put a hand on Roberto’s shoulder and squeezed it, nodding his head.

“I hope it won’t be necessary,” whispered Fernando, “but be clear, I’ll only do it if I have no doubt it was them...”

“Thank you, boys,” said Roberto, moved. “I leave it up to you how to act and the decision to do it. As for what you say, Fernando, if you have doubts, it’s up to you... But if it’s not reasonable to have them, please, proceed efficiently.”

“Perhaps we’re being too pessimistic,” opined Federico, “perhaps they won’t dare commit such crimes.”

“For my part,” offered Roberto, “I’m going to warn Álvez and Juanita that I’ve put a price on their heads. I’ll inform that quack that it’s in his own interest to look after me. I think that if he’s perspicacious, which he ought to be, he won’t fuck with me any more. He has to know what my limits are, what I’ll tolerate, he ought to know me a bit... That bastard is playing with things that are too important. I have to decide quickly what I’m going to do with my assets. It’s quite possible that I’ll sell all my belongings to lower the pretences of those bastards. When they see they’ve got nothing to get hold of, they’ll realise it’s no so easy to defraud me. If I place the money in secret bank accounts abroad, Julieta will be covered.”

“Don’t rush,” advised Fernando, “to do that would cost a fortune in taxes and notary’s fees, and you’d have to sell the land for less than it’s worth. Without ruling out your idea, don’t forget you’ve got to have your ideas clear... Don’t get carried away through anger or fear. You’ve got to be prepared to handle things coldly; perhaps it’d be a good idea to strike up a dialogue with these wretches.”

“All right,” said Roberto, “that’s why I want you to collaborate. To give me good advice, to stop me doing anything else stupid. I’ll do everything that’ll do me good, but I swear that when I think of the probability of dealing with these fuckers, it makes my blood boil. I’d like to destroy them, make sure they get their just desserts.”

“In any case I don’t think you should rule out any possibility,” opined Fernando. “If you see that you’re lost, perhaps it’s best to give in.”

“Look,” said Roberto, “they’d better not fuck with me to much; they’ve already gone too far. I’m scared of losing my head and doing something disastrous.”

“Be careful,” insisted Fernando, “this is not your scene. Besides, what would you do, kill your own child?”

“No,” said Burán, “but perhaps that bastard Álvez deserves to die.”

“No doubt,” said Federico, “but don’t go mad. The best thing we can do at the moment is use our intelligence to the maximum. Don’t get desperate, if you get angry, you’ll make more mistakes. You know very well that’s not your style...”

Roberto answered, “All right, OK, but I’d like to know what you’d do in my position.”

“Impossible!” exclaimed Adolfo with a smile, “we’re not as lucky as you, we’re married. Don’t you know we can’t have relations with anyone other than our wives? How dare you ask such a question!”

“Stop making fun!” said Burán with a gesture of resignation, “remind me what a fool I’ve been... Acting the playboy is going to cost me being lumbered with a kid I didn’t want to conceive; I’m going to have to bankroll the bitch of a mother and make a hole in my patrimony. All this without ruling out the possibility of them killing me and Julieta. Wonderful, isn’t it?”

“Don’t take any notice, Robbie,” soothed Fernando. “Hey, Adolfo! I don’t think this is the time to make jokes, do you?”

Federico took no notice of Adolfo’s irony and asked, “Tell me, have you had any contact with them? Haven’t they proposed any kind of dialogue?”

“No,” said Roberto, “the only thing I’ve got is the letter that you’re familiar with. Apparently I must deal with Doctor Allegri. I don’t think he knows the truth, I’m sure they’ve sent him to the battle front after convincing him he’s defending a just cause. It’s striking that they didn’t try to contact me by telephone before sending the letter. In any case, I’m going to talk to him, perhaps he’s also mixed up with the fraud. Then I’ll see what happens; if they’ve risked defrauding me in this way, we have to think they’re capable of any aberration. Although I don’t know what their pretences are, I’ve got a sad feeling they’ll be excessive. I’m not going to give in to their pressure. What’s more, it wouldn’t give me any guarantee to pact with them.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Adolfo.

“Very simple,” answered Burán, “in the first place, we mustn’t forget that Juanita Artigas is representing my supposed scion. For now it’s an unborn person, but when it comes into the world, if they prove it’s my child, it’ll have full rights. Juana Artigas won’t be able to claim anything for her, but she will be able to for the child. The law carefully protects minors, as you know. I’ll be obliged to ensure sustenance and look after basic needs. I won’t be able to avoid paying maintenance; they’ll fix it at a big sum, because my patrimony is now very large and this right to maintenance cannot be waived.”

“Yes,” said Federico, “it’s clear that the mother could not carry out any kind of negotiation that harms the minor. Besides, any arrangement would have to be judicially authorised, with the prior intervention of the Incapacity Trust.”

“Of course,” commented Fernando, “I would recommend you take lots of precautions. Don’t go and reach an agreement without the intervention of the judge and the Consultant, otherwise the agreement could be declared null and void.”

“Exactly,” sighed Roberto, “you’ll be aware than any agreement in this matter, even if they offer me a very attractive one, is practically impossible to carry out. They could promise me the world, but the child will always have the right to ask me to acknowledge that I’m the father and demand all the benefits that filiation implies. This right cannot be waived, so it’s impossible to place any kind of limit on it.”

“Nevertheless,” said Fernando, “I don’t think it’ll be easy for them to attribute a baby to you. They’ll have to demonstrate your paternity. How are they going to prove it? If I remember correctly, medical proof can only be used to show that you couldn’t be the father, but it wouldn’t be enough to affirm that you were, am I right?”

“It was like that when we were at university,” informed Federico, “but not any longer. There’s been a great evolution, science has advanced, now there are very precise methods. There’s a lot of talk about these things here. Don’t forget a lot of people have disappeared in Argentina. There are lots of grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and even parents looking for children whose mothers were killed in the era of the repression. I’ve been studying this problem all day, and I got a big surprise. There’s an enormous quantity of doctrinal works and a copious scientific bibliography about biological proof. I recommend Roberto to consult the practice that is most capable in this matter.”

“Which is it?” asked Burán expectantly.

“I think it’s Armendariz-Bareilles, in Buenos Aires,” answered Federico. “I can hook you up with them.”

“Tomorrow,” said Robert hopefully.

OK,” agreed Federico.

Fernando went on, “As far as I know, no one can be forced to subject themselves to a biochemical analysis, am I wrong?”

“In principle, I would say not...” said Federico. “At least that would seem to be the most legally correct. The National Constitution establishes that nobody can be forced to give evidence against themselves. But after reading a law passed in the year 1986, I have to change my opinion.”

“What law?” said Roberto.

“It’s one that was passed to mitigate the consequences of the military repression,” Fernando went on explaining, “that is, the large number of babies that were torn out of the arms of their allegedly subversive mothers. It lays out the creation of the National Bank of Genetic Data. Its aim is to obtain and store the genetic information pertaining to the family members of disappeared children or those allegedly born in captivity. The aim is to ease their identification, if they should be found. The law I mentioned to you establishes that the refusal of the supposed father to subject himself to the examinations and tests that determine filiation shall constitute evidence against him. As you can see, Roberto’s refusal, in this case, would generate a presumption against him. To refuse the biological tests would be fatal for him.”

“But wouldn’t that rule be unconstitutional?” asked Adolfo.

“Allow me to have serious doubts,” said Federico, wrinkling his nose, “I wouldn’t risk refusing the test unless I knew the result was going to be detrimental to me.”

“That’s my case,” commented Roberto, “although if I refuse to subject myself to the test, I’ll show myself up... I’d like to face the situation head on, to tell the truth, so that the judge realises I was really defrauded...”

“How are you going to prove it?” asked Adolfo. “Your lover’s statement won’t be enough.”

“I don’t know how,” answered Burán, “I really don’t know... I’ve got to think of something!” he said, hiding his face in his hands...

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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