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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 52

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

“However, it doesn’t seem fair, Doctor Bareilles, I think we have to distinguish between two situations. On the one hand, the illicit behaviour of Juana Artigas and Álvez, on the other hand, the absolute innocence of the baby...”

Roberto stopped, he was confused and anguished. He couldn’t express himself fluently. He made an effort to speak:

“Excuse me for not having touched on this subject before. The truth is everything has happened so recently I’ve been thrown out of sorts. I’ve thought a lot about my situation, no matter how much I tried at the beginning, I’ve come to understand that I must know the child who, when all is said and done, I think will carry my own blood. My conscience obliges me to take charge of that child. I’m inconsolable that it will have scum for a mother, an evil woman who didn’t hesitate to get it mixed up in this for profit. Morally, my obligation is to protect the child. When I talk about protection, I refer to the pressing need to remove him from his mother, whether or not my paternity is declared. To be brought up by an amoral woman like Juana will not be good for the baby; I must avoid it.”

“But, doctor,” said Rocío with some emotion, “don’t get me wrong. Your attitude is laudable, but also a little contradictory to the position you wanted to adopt. You’ll have to make a political decision about the matter, decide what result you prefer...”

“Wait, dear,” said Juan Carlos Bareilles, “wait a moment... I think I understand what our colleague wants; he’s obviously just decided. Let’s see, Roberto, according to what you say, you would prefer to take a realistic approach, is that right?”

“Exactly, doctor,” confirmed Burán.

“Right, laddie, I agree, we can... What we have to do is to bring the whole truth out into the open, carry out the biological tests before anything else and make sure you’re really the father. If so, first we’d explain everything that happened to the Judge, that you were swindled by Álvez and Artigas. Then, we would tell the judge that despite having no legal obligation, you are prepared to accept all the responsibilities of paternity. Meanwhile, we would emphasise that you’re not prepared to accept that she maintains the mother’s rights. More specifically, we’ll try to deprive her of custody. What do you think?”

“Good,” said Roberto, “I like it, but how will we manage it?”

“Here we return to the crux of the problem, laddie. It’s like Rocío said a few minutes ago, we have to prove that they acted fraudulently. I know it’s almost impossible, but I can’t see any other way out. If you don’t achieve this result, resign yourself to the worst. To console yourself, think that should Juana Artigas be given custody of the minor you will be able to supervise the correct administration of the money you give to the child. You will also have visiting rights, the right to demand a good education.”

Burán shook his head. “Thanks for trying to alleviate my suffering, doctor, but you know as well as I do that it would be a disaster. In that witch’s hands, the little one wouldn’t have a good future. She would apply her uncommon intelligence to make the child hate me, to make it as materialistic and insensitive as her. It would be very painful to watch the degradation of my own child.”

“Your own child?” asked Rocío Bareilles, moved, “Have you fully accepted it?”

Roberto became emotional, his eyes grew damp and suddenly filled with tears.

“I’m sorry,” said Burán, “I’m highly sensitised. Everything that’s happening to me is too cruel, it’s hard to absorb. Yes, doctor! I must say it... My child! Isn’t that right? I can’t deny the evidence. If I did so, it would be worse in the long run... Leaving aside the legal aspect, these last few moments of conversation have served to finally convince me that, humanly, I won’t be able to face any way out other than acknowledging the baby. But it’s vital that I gain custody, otherwise it would be heartbreaking for me. I wouldn’t be able to bring him up or give the necessary affection. I know this is an enormous decision, which is a commitment from the beginning, but I feel that I’ll be unable to take any other. I’m taking a great risk, I tremble to think what would happen if there were several more inseminations. In that case, I don’t know what I’d do. My life is structurally affected with just one pregnancy, I can’t imagine what would happen if there were others. I’m in no state to absorb it. If that situation arose, I would allow you to advise me, I don’t know if I’m capable of resolving it.”

“You already know my opinion,” said the old jurist, “I think it’s unlikely that Álvez will risk fertilising other women, he’s not that stupid. We have to make an effort to gather elements that demonstrate the conspiracy, even circumstantial evidence, something that could convince the judge. The assumption on your part of the obligations derived from paternity, with a parallel lawsuit for the privation of custody from the mother, will not be viewed askance, because it leaves the minor’s interests safe. Let’s not forget that it’s fundamental to gain the support of the Incapacity Trust. If the adviser is aware that you’re not merely protecting your financial interests, but exclusively that of your child, she could also be convinced of the truth that you have been the victim of a conspiracy. If we could persuade her of the fraud...”

“Doctor,” asked Roberto, “do you think that the opinion of the minors adviser could be very important?”

“Of course,” said the old lawyer, “no doubt at all, the wardship department will exercise a great influence on the trial. Don’t forget that by law, in all matters in which the interests of minors are involved, the intervention of the Incapacity Trust is compulsory. As if that wasn’t enough, since 1985, they can even act to promote the filiation lawsuit, provided they have the mother’s authorisation. To be honest, we’ve never been faced with a problem like this. We know of no similar precedents, but I can tell you that if you’re prepared to acknowledge your paternity, that would simplify the matter. We would no longer be worried about the consequences of the attribution of Juana Artigas’s child, but about the circumstance of it being raised by her. What you want is to have it, to bring it up, am I right?”

“At this juncture,” said Roberto, “I must say yes. I swear that I only just became aware of it... I ask you both to forgive me for not having been clearer about this point; you understand that it’s hard to accept a child imposed by trickery and fraud.”

Bareilles accepted the apology affectionately.

“Don’t worry, we understand and respect you for your conduct, you’re showing a generosity that ennobles you.”

“And a stupidity that distinguishes me,” added Burán with a certain embarrassment.

“I wouldn’t judge yourself so severely, doctor,” Rocío said sweetly, “what happened to you was absolutely unforeseeable...”

“Right, Roberto,” said Bareilles, “I suggest you go back home and immediately start a campaign to look for any information that might be useful in the unmasking of these fraudsters. Send emissaries, speak to your friends, to Miss... what’s her name? Sandrelli. In short, to anyone who can help you. If necessary, don’t hesitate to invest money, it’s worth it. We need to redraw the map, to have elements in our favour. Esteemed colleague, I think that you’re a man of intelligence and wisdom. I advise you to use all your available grey matter to identify weak points in the offensive of the opposition. We will be at your disposition, and we’ll go on gathering material and precedents. We’ll stay in contact either by telephone or fax. I have to go, it’s getting late, arrange the details of a trip to Mar del Plata in the near future with Rocío... You know that there are several direct flights a day. It’s been a pleasure , laddie, I wish you luck. Goodbye...”

When the old jurist left, there was a vacuum of silence between the lawyer and Burán. Neither of them knew what to say. Suddenly, they were alone, two apparent strangers. However, Roberto had been forced to undress his soul, his fears, his private worries and desires. He had cried before that woman. These circumstances made up a climate of intimacy which unavoidably bound them. After exhibiting his miseries, Roberto wanted to explain everything, his ideas, his sympathies. It was as if his confession had been insufficient and he needed to complete it. He liked the beautiful blonde, he was tempted to get to know her from a strictly human angle, although he knew it wasn’t a good idea to involve her in that way. Roberto knew that the defence of his rights should be carried out with the greatest objectivity possible. If she were implicated personally it would be almost impossible. However, after meeting Alicia Sandrelli, he experienced a certain pleasure in challenging the dictates of reason. Besides, he was in pain, sensitised by the unpleasantness he was going through. He needed a little fresh air, some understanding. Considering how difficult it was to find a woman who made him feel good, who attracted him, he decided, in spite of everything, to try to get closer to the refined Rocío Bareilles. For her part, she was visibly moved by Burán’s attitude. Listening to his speech about love, his sacrifice for the child that was supposedly his, had moved her. That man, in spite of having been hit by a swindle, tricked by Alicia, had been capable of fighting for the child, putting innocence first. This form of behaviour reconciled Rocío with the world; not everything was as superficial or as selfish as it seemed. Roberto Burán, who was already getting on a bit, was theoretically marked by life’s battles. Nevertheless, he responded with feeling, without materialism, leaving aside economic interest. What’s more, she had to admit Burán attracted her physically... She liked his presence, his affectionate gaze, the sweet masculinity he exercised. Intellectually, she felt he was at least her equal, and that was half the battle for her. She felt the spiritual acuteness of Roberto in his every word and thought. So many years spent repressing her affections invited her to communicate with Burán, to confide in him a minimal part of the sensations she carried inside her. Any other time, her professional responsibility would not have allowed her to mix a legal matter with personal affairs, but on this occasion she was determined to give herself free rein, if he asked her to. She was anxious that he should do so.... Finally, Roberto spoke.

“There’s something I wanted to say to you, doctor. I’m going back to Mar del Plata early tomorrow; I’m alone in Buenos Aires, I was wondering...”

“Yes, what?” answered Rocío, as if to encourage him.

“Forgive me,” said Roberto, “I only wanted to confess that it would be a great pleasure for me if you would care to dine with me tonight. Forgive my boldness... Perhaps I shouldn’t... Please, I beg you not to feel under any obligation, don’t get the wrong end of the stick.”

“How about at nine o’clock?” she said in reply, regaling him with a broad smile.

“Great,” said Burán happily, “where shall I pick you up?”

“I’ll be in the office at that time, I live nearby... Just press the entryphone and I’ll come straight down. OK?”

OK, doctor, and thanks...”

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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