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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 45

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
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“Ah! They want to see me dead?”

“Please don’t be ironic, Doctor, I’m speaking to you with maximum respect. I’m simply laying out the legal ingredients of the problem, then you can do what you want... Allow me to explain my mandator’s position, which doesn’t seem inappropriate; on the contrary, I think it’s fair.”

Roberto sighed heavily. He had to go on listening, he wanted to know what Álvez and Juana wanted.

“I must control myself,” he thought, “how I’d like to get hold of this tight-arsed pipsqueak and knock him to pieces! He’s a reptile, but if I do anything he’ll report me, it’s not in my interests, I must be patient, later on I’ll see...”

“Well, Burán, that legitimate right of the kid engendered by you is of significant value. You can’t expect its right of inheritance to be waived without some kind of compensation.”

“Lots of money, right?” asked Roberto with a flushed face.

“Not that much in proportion with your patrimony, Doctor Burán; you have an estimated fortune of at least six million dollars. Settling the whole ‘package’ will cost you one million two hundred thousand... I think it’s a tempting offer, I advise you to accept it. I can almost be sure that later on any other transaction would be more onerous. If we agree on a conciliation, we could sign the counter-documents that you require in parallel, of course without obligation for either party. I could even establish a guarantee in your favour, envisaging another claim in the future. My client herself suggested this; it shows her healthy interest in ending the matter here. Believe me, Burán, you’ve no alternative. At present there are infallible procedures to settle paternity. Genetic tests are as precise as fingerprints. There’s no way out, you should accept your responsibility.”

“I repeat, Allegri, I never had sexual relations with your client, I’m not prepared to allow myself to be blackmailed. You disappoint me as a lawyer; under the pretext of jealously fulfilling your professional duty, you have no qualms about sheltering fraudsters. You should at least have taken the trouble to investigate your mandator a little more, before rejecting my explanation outright. Lawyers like you besmirch our profession. We all like making money, but there are different ways of going about it; for you, anything goes.”

“I won’t stand for it!”

“Yes you will stand for it! Shut up and listen! You force me to defend myself and I will, but I’m going to give you some advice; don’t forget this is a personal matter and I won’t be messed with. In the first place, a warning I would like to reach your filthy clients. If anything happens to me or my daughter, on their own heads be it. I’ve taken precautions. Tell Álvez...”

“I told you I don’t know him!” interrupted Allegri, “I won’t stand for it!”

“Yes you will stand for it! You’re going to listen to me until I’ve finished! Otherwise I’ll clobber you, you bastard! Don’t think you’ll get off scot-free blackmailing me, messing with my blood...”

Allegri became pale and started to tremble, paralysed by fear.

“I repeat, tell Álvez and Juana that if anything happens to me or Julieta, the next victims are going to be them... And you take care of yourself, don’t play with fire. I’m going to use part of the money they want to take from me to assure myself of vengeance in case anything happens to me. I can assure you that if they make any kind of attempt on my life, they won’t have long to regret it. Spell this out to them. Don’t leave anything out, because I’m going to do everything I’ve said, I swear on my life. Meanwhile, tell your clients that I’ll never, ever, reach a settlement with them! I don’t pact with shit, I flush it down the toilet. My dignity is not up for auction. If I lose, I’ll go down fighting. But I would like to make it clear that I’m going to liquidate my whole patrimony, there won’t be a cent left for them to enjoy, they can forget my inheritance. It’s going to be difficult for them to obtain the maintenance allowance they’re after. Another thing: tell them to be careful with reiterations, if another alleged child of mine appears, I won’t have mercy on them. Those criminals are going to learn to respect the limits.”

Allegri listened without uttering a word, petrified; he was afraid Roberto would react violently. Weak and respectful, he answered, “But, Doctor Burán, don’t be like that! Understand my situation! You’re a lawyer as well, we have to earn a living... I haven’t got anything against you, on the contrary. Don’t you understand that I’m carrying out my duty? Don’t be harsh on me, after all, I’m offering you a reasonable agreement...”

“Do you call an agreement that validates fraud reasonable? Don’t you understand that these people have not hesitated to bring a child into the world illicitly, just to get rich? I could never trust them, it would be naïve to suppose that these criminals are going to change! They’re capable of repeating this story in the future; the child could turn up at any moment contesting the paternity of whoever they inscribe as father, and demanding my acknowledgment. The action is imprescriptible, he’s got his whole life to sue.”

“As you wish, Burán, I don’t want to force you to do anything, I’m simply expressing my opinion.”

“Your opinion is contemptible...”

“In that case, I humbly ask you to leave; there’s nothing more to be said. We’ll meet in court, let justice decide who is right.”

“Don’t give me that, Allegri, what justice are you talking about? You know very well I’m defenceless. It’s impossible to prove that I didn’t have relations with Juana. I expected less hypocrisy from you, and more honesty.”

“ Our courts offers you every possibility; use them, Burán. I believe that in the magistracy lies the last reserve of what little honesty exists in this country... There’s no other civilised way to resolve conflicts.”

“Perhaps,” said Roberto, now calmed down slightly. “We’ll see... I have to trust in the judges, there’s no other way. But be careful! Don’t cross the limits of my patience. I’m going, please don’t forget to give my message to your clients.”

Allegri saw him out attentively and, to ease the tension that had been generated, made an effort to make him understand that he was only fulfilling his duty by representing Juana Artigas. He was prepared to continue with the case come what may; he had agreed to twenty per cent of his client’s fees. If he was successful in the case or he settled it adequately, he would get two hundred and forty thousand dollars. If he won, in addition, he would have the right to charge Burán for the fees. It was without doubt the case of his life, although the case could also mean his death...

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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