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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 64

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, 16 February 1990, 09:00

“Hello, Rocío, how are you? It’s a pleasure to see you again... I was worried the plane wouldn’t be able to land in this weather...”

Roberto met her in the Mar del Plata city airport. The meteorological conditions were terrible.

“I was scared, to be honest,” she answered. “I never get used to flying. After half an hour’s delay, I didn’t know if we’d land or go back to Buenos Aires. How are you, Roberto, OK?”

“More or less. You know perfectly well that I’m not on top form, but at least I’m in good health...”

They left for the city in torrential rain; the hearing was at eleven o’clock, they still had an hour to discuss the final details.

“Did you get any more information?” asked the lawyer. “Were you able to make contact with Estela Cáceres?”

“Not yet, we’re working on it... Tomorrow night Fernando’s meeting her in a downtown patisserie; Alicia’s going with him.”

“Have you seen her again?”

“No, I’ve preferred to keep my distance for now.”

“For now? Have you decided top get back together with her?”

“Who knows? Time will tell. I have my doubts. I’m not making any plans, I’ve got enough complications without looking for even more.”

“How strange, Roberto, I’m surprised you act like that...”

“How come?”

“Fearfully, Roberto, I thought you’d put yourself at risk more... If you feel the urge to get back with her, why don’t you do it?”

“That’s the problem, Rocío, I don’t know if I really want to. I’m very confused, I’m acting with prudence, it’s not a question of breaking everything at every step. They’re big decisions. Going backwards can be painful, both for me and Alicia. What’s more, she might not want anything to do with me now. I wouldn’t be surprised. The problems I’m going through prevent me thinking about emotional ties in a balanced way. I’m receiving blows from all sides. I’m just trying to save my head. Isn’t my reasoning logical? I don’t know why you think it’s so strange. I don’t understand you, Rocío, it looks like you’re interested in me getting back with Alicia. Why’s that?”

“It’s not that, not at all; I just wanted to help you see things. I’ve got no right to meddle in your private life, forgive me.”

“No, Rocío there’s nothing to forgive; on the contrary, I ask you to speak freely with me. Ask me whatever you like...”

“Whatever I like? Be careful, it’s dangerous to give a woman so much power, she could interfere in your life.”

“You’re the one who should be careful, Rocío: it might be a trap. Couldn’t I be trying to get you to interfere?”

“Don’t ask me. If you don’t know yourself... Look; I don’t think I’m acting like a serious defence lawyer, I ought to get ready for the hearing.”

“You’re right,” he said, retreating, “excuse me.”

OK, tell me, Roberto, is anyone going to accompany us?”

“No one. Federico Lizter has got some problems to sort out. He was going to put them to one side to accompany us, but I told him it wasn’t necessary for him to come. We’ve set our strategy, we’ve already analysed the lawsuit, it doesn’t make much sense to bother him. Likewise, we won’t be giving anything away, we’ll stick to outlining our defence. Do you think he should come?”

“No, it’s all right, Roberto. Tell me, how do you want to handle yourself in the hearing? Would you prefer me to speak? Perhaps you’d like to direct it yourself...”

“No way, Rocío, I trust in your capacity, you’re more competent than me in these matters. What’s more, I’m heavily involved, there’s a risk I might lose control. Why run that risk? You call the shots; we’ll have chance to talk without them hearing us, to exchange ideas if necessary.”

“As you wish, If you like, we could go to your practice to give the summons a last run through. Then to the court, OK?”

OK,” said Burán.

At ten in the morning they were in the court room. Juana Artigas and her lawyer, Doctor Sebastián Allegri, were also there. A few minutes later, the minors adviser, Doctor María del Carmen Fernández, arrived.

Doctor Fernández is short and chubby; she has recently turned thirty-seven and has been in her job for five years. She’s a pleasant woman who acts with responsibility and love for her profession. The defence of minors, of the incapable in general, is a task of maximum importance for her; she considers it a kind of ministry which she exercises vehemently and honestly. She has a solid family which gives her a lot of happiness. This circumstance permits her to keep her balance in the difficult situations she has to face on a day-to-day basis.

A clerk instructed them to go through to the courtroom. Doctor Marina Bisson, examining magistrate for civil and commercial cases, was waiting for them. They entered a large office; behind an antique desk, a woman of approximately sixty years old was watching them. This was Doctor Marina Bisson.

She is a very special person, of refined upbringing and great humanitarian sensibilty. She is not a renowned jurist, nor does she stand out for her encyclopaedic sentences, but her decisions are just, balanced, and the interest of children is always given priority in them. Her capacity for achieving reconciliation when all seems lost is well known. She is very religious and has an innate goodness of which her life is the best example. She has received a very rigid education: she spent her childhood in a boarding school run by nuns. Despite this, she is broadminded, she understands and respects human beings. She has learned to be compassionate with her fellow men: she always has some apology when judging deviant behaviour, she doesn’t like classifying people. Nevertheless, when she has to decide, she does so without hesitation and is hardly ever wrong. In her youth she was very beautiful; to be honest, you could say she still is, an elderly women, an honourable widow with a rich personality. She has the classic Latin appearance, very white skin and black eyes and hair... She is not tall, but her body is harmonious. Her fine manners, a touch frenchified, give her a certain something, a very distinguished appearance. Conversation with her is pleasant and enriching; she is, to sum up, an interesting person and an efficient magistrate. Responsible, irreproachably honest, she cannot ignore the voice of her conscience...

Doctor Marina Bisson believed that the problem posed between Juana Artigas and Roberto Burán would be like so many others that she often saw in her office. She was used to this kind of situation: married men, divorcees, even single men, often impregnated single women. In these conditions, the women frequently wanted to be mothers. When there was no money involved, it was generally much easier, but when economic interest was the priority, the conflicts became more complicated. Sometimes truly passionate dramas took place, which Doctor Bisson knew how to handle with a firm hand; she was an expert in this kind of case. She knew Burán because she had taken part in some trials in which he was a lawyer and in general had a high opinion of Roberto, who enjoyed an excellent reputation. He had always behaved equably, without swindling anybody. He wasn’t a saint, but he didn’t allow himself to cross certain limits or harm his clients; other lawyers didn’t have the same scruples.

The hall was comfortable, soberly furnished but without any ostentation; there were seats for five people, just enough for everyone to sit down. The magistrate, behind her desk, observed everyone carefully, drawing her preliminary conclusions. Juanita was quiet, expectant; she knew she held the winning hand, but she was aware of the immorality of her behaviour and feared discovery. The orders Allegri had given her were clear and categorical: she should refrain from speaking and adopt an image of humility and defencelessness. As far as possible, she should awaken the pity of the judge. Sebastián Allegri tried to make Doctor Bisson and the advisor sensitive; he wanted to convince them that Juanita was a poor woman, and that Burán had used her. The astute advisor of Juana Artigas didn’t know what posture the defence would adopt. For that reason, he preferred Burán to speak first. To make this proposal, he raised his right hand for permission to speak.

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