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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 44

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Friday 22 December 1989

“Come in please, Doctor Burán. Doctor Allegri is expecting you.”

An elegant secretary accompanied him to Juana Artigas’s lawyer’s office. Specializing in family law, Allegri had acquired a deserved reputation as a hard man who was inflexible with his adversaries. On a strictly personal plane, he was unsociable, a solitary misanthropist, without friends. He had taken refuge in his profession, the only area in which he felt important, seeing that in family matters he felt scorned and both his children and his wife underestimated him. They had their reasons, seeing as Allegri was avaricious, wretched, compulsively hoarding each coin; his mean piggy-bank spirit compelled him to save to the point of absurdity. For this reason, in the cold winter months, to avoid spending, he went without heating, living without any comfort whatsoever. Considering that he had accumulated a patrimony that would have allowed him to live comfortably, the repudiation dispensed by his family was justified. He was sixty, short, balding, with brown hair streaked with white. His black eyes peered jealously, analysing everything with veiled reservation; without doubt he was neither pleasant nor sensitive, but Burán was prepared to try and move him by whatever means. To start with, by telling him the whole truth...

“Doctor Allegri, a pleasure, I haven’t seen you for a long time, thank you for seeing me so quickly. You will understand that I’m very worried about the seriousness of your accusations...”

“Excuse me, doctor, they’re not mine, but those of my client. I hope we can make that clear right from the start. I’m just fulfilling my professional function. I represent a woman who has hired my services. I must do so as efficiently as possible, as is my obligation.”

“Of course, Doctor Allegri, the last thing I want to do is to question the lawfulness of your intervention... However, I think it’s a good idea for us to talk in order to make clear the background of this question. I suppose you will be interested in hearing the truth...”

“Yes, of course, although I warn you that I have heard it from my client, who I’m sure you will understand, I must trust. Besides, her version is absolutely truthful. In any case, I’ll listen to yours attentively...”

“Right, doctor,” said Roberto, “your client is a fraudster. With a medical accomplice, Doctor Sebastian Álvez, she was artificially inseminated with my sperm, which they obtained fraudulently... I suppose her pregnancy could be genetically attributed to me, but she never had sexual relations with me.”

“Excuse me, Burán, please moderate your language. You’re referring to a person to whom I am counsel. I cannot allow you to treat her with such a lack of respect. You’re expressing yourself too freely, accusing Ms Juana Artigas of a very serious crime. As for the Doctor Álvez you refer to, I do not know him. All I know is that he treats my client as a gynaecologist and will be able to declare as a witness that you accompanied her to his surgery to see if she was pregnant.”

“That’s not true, doctor, I’ve never been there. That man’s lying, I repeat, he’s an accomplice of Juana Artigas, I once beat him in an important case. That’s why he hates me so much. I had an ephemeral relationship with your client years ago, but it never came to anything. I never went to bed with her. Not long ago she came to visit me with the excuse of me advising her in a contractual problem that had arisen. I refused... To persuade me, she apologised for her previous attitude. She came a total of three times to my practice. She behaved strangely in all her visits, as if to configure a favourable antecedent for her current claim. She twice left my office putting her clothes straight, as if something had happened with me inside. My secretaries saw her and will certainly be called as witnesses, it’s a real conspiracy. You know I’m a serious professional; there’s no way I’d come here to tell you lies.”

“Doctor Burán, I don’t doubt your seriousness, but you will understand that I’m obliged to believe my mandator. Meanwhile, I repeat, I must admit that her version strikes me as credible. Yours, on the other hand, has elements of fantasy. Would you explain to me how, according to you, your sperm reached Ms Artigas’s uterus?”

“The explanation is very simple, Allegri, these people chose a tortuous route. As they knew I would never give in to the amorous proposals of your client, they extorted a beautiful girl to seduce me. When I had sexual contact with her, alleging fear of pregnancy, she asked me to use a condom. Afterwards she kept my semen and gave it to Álvez.”

“But Doctor Burán, don’t you think your story is a bit inconceivable? Please don’t be offended, but it’s like a soap opera, real life isn’t that sophisticated.”

“Doctor Allegri, don’t say that! We lawyers know very well that it’s multi-faceted, that it outdoes the most feverish imagination.”

“Those are your words, Doctor Burán; your story is like the fruit of a sick mind. Don’t get mad, I’m trying to be honest with you, after all, it wouldn’t be serious to act otherwise. Look, Ms Juana Artigas came to this practice setting out a personal problem, lamentably all too common... It’s also habitual that the fathers refuse to acknowledge their children when they are engendered outside marriage. I’m not going to discuss your reasons for not acknowledging that you are the father, but you will understand that I cannot allow you to dispute my right to defend my client to the bitter end.”

“Sorry, Allegri,” said Roberto lifting up his head, “you have failed to understand me. I have not denied that I’m the father of the child that Juana Artigas is gestating. I have simply said that I suppose she became pregnant by artificial means, by means of a fraudulent machination.... Isn’t that clear?”

“All right, Burán, don’t blow your top. I repeat, it’s not my intention to offend you... But I don’t know where you’re heading. What do you want from me?”

“I want you to understand the truth and to act accordingly, as your conscience dictates.”

“Excuse me, Doctor Burán, but for me, unless proven otherwise, the only truth is that told to me by my client. I reiterate, Doctor, don’t feel aggrieved, but do you think it’s logical to insist on your description of events? I could help you... If you want to reach an agreement, I have some instructions from my client. She’s not interested in you acknowledging paternity; what’s more, she’s prepared to accept that you’re not the father of the baby she’s gestating.”

“That’s impossible,” said Burán.

“Yes, I know what you’re going to say, that the right to claim filiation cannot be waived because it belongs to the child exclusively and is public order. We agree on that, but we can look for an alternative solution. For example, another man could acknowledge that he’s the father... I know there are always risks left floating in the air, but after an economic agreement,” said Allegri smiling suggestively, “they would be virtually non-existent. After all, this would be the most that could be achieved. Summing up, my client wants patrimonial compensation; she deems herself to have the right to claim for her child that which lawfully corresponds. She is not in a good financial state and facing life alone will be very hard. I think it’s understandable that she wants security, and you are in a position to give it to her.”

“And what does she want?”

“Well, stay calm, the amount she’s asking for is large, but I don’t think it’s far-fetched given the circumstances. So that you can consider it in detail, I’m going to try to be graphic... The child, once its condition of offspring is accepted, will have the right, as you are aware, to maintenance. There’s no doubt it would be large. Simply think that it’s normal to fix a monthly amount of between twenty and forty percent of the maintainer’s income, or more in some cases... It’s well known that you’re a man with a great fortune, that you have inherited many assets. You will not be unaware that to subject yourself to a judicial decision would be risky in this aspect. It seems to me that it is undisputable that my client should have maintenance assured until the child comes of age; contradict me if you don’t agree with my reasoning. Right, Doctor Burán, these circumstances show us the importance of the economic interest at stake. But we’re still left with the substantial part: the right to your inheritance.”

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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