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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 71

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Saturday 17 February 1990

Alicia Sandrelli and Fernando Ridenti arrived at the Rimini Patisserie at nine in the evening, almost at the same time. They had chosen that place because usually there weren’t many people; half an hour later they would meet Estela Cáceres, Esteban Álvez’s secretary. They met earlier because wanted to exchange ideas and get ready for the meeting; they couldn’t leave anything to chance: they were going to take a big step. Roberto’s situation was a source of anguish. Unless there was a major change, his fate was sealed. Once his paternity was acknowledged, it would be impossible to stop Juana Artigas. They had to prove she had committed a crime: only thus could they limit the rights of Juana over her son and deprive her of custody. Unless that objective was achieved, Roberto Burán would be defeated on all fronts; the child would be brought up by the mother in spite of her manifest dishonesty, and she would bring him up predisposing him against the father, which would not be difficult.”

They exchanged a friendly kiss and sat down; there was a current of sincere warmth between them. He held Alicia in high esteem, he thought she was a good girl, uncomplicated and affectionate. When she started going out with Roberto, Fernando was happy. He liked seeing his friend so happy; that’s why he regretted that their relationship should end so sordidly.

She was as pretty as ever, wearing a light blue blouse and blue jeans. She was the object of many glances, she still awakened the interest of men. Fernando started the conversation.

“Alicia, it’s nice to see you again, I can see you’re well... You know our mission is vital, we have no time to lose. I need you to inform me immediately of everything you know about this woman.”

“I know very little,” she said, “I met her in Álvez’s practice. At first she was unsociable, she was even discourteous to me, but the second time I saw he she had changed considerably. I think I caught her at a special moment, she was very depressed because Álvez had scorned her, telling her off in front of several people. She told me she wanted to leave the job, that the gynaecologist didn’t respect her, that she was in love with him and it hurt her that he ignored her. At the time she gave me the impression that she knew something about Mabel’s pregnancy, about what I had done. She listened to part of my conversation with Álvez, spying behind the door. At first she saw me as a potential competitor, that’s why she treated me so coldly. When she found out I was really being pressurised, she took pity on me. In a way, I helped open her eyes; her submission to Álvez was degrading to her as a person.”

“But, wasn’t there ever anything between them?” asked Fernando, “Didn’t they ever have sex?”

“Once, it would seem, but not in a very romantic way. It was on a couch, without any preparation. After possessing her, he went back to being indifferent. She felt like a prostitute, degraded as a person, but she couldn’t do anything to untie herself; she was a slave to his will. Until very recently...”

“But tell me, Alicia, did you go on seeing her?”

“Yes, I confess I did it on purpose, I wanted to find things out... I knew that Roberto might need my help, I felt guilty, I wanted to do everything possible to put right my mistakes. I still want to, I haven’t slept well for months, I can’t forget how I tricked him. I miss him very much, I love him. I’ve suffered so much for what happened! I feel so bad...”

Alicia’s eyes grew damp and tears bloomed in them. Fernando was moved, he was as sensitive emotionally as he was cold in business, just one of the many facets of his complex personality. Patting the girl’s shoulder, he said to her, “Calm down; Alicia: you can’t give up now, Roberto needs you. You have to be stronger than ever. Don’t you want to help him? What can this woman give us? Have you got any idea?”

“Some idea. She knows where he keeps his private documents. They’re in a safe, the key is hidden in a desk drawer. Estela found it by chance once when she was looking for a card.”

“And what’s in the safe? Anything to help us?”

“Perhaps there is, Fernando; when I agreed to seduce Roberto, Álvez made me write a letter to ensure my silence. In it I confessed that Mabel was pregnant and begged him to do an abortion. From the text it could be deduced that he had refused before; in short, he comes out of it looking like the good guy. I air all the dirty laundry...”

Fernando remained pensive and then said, “I don’t think it’s that important, it doesn’t show the fraud, I don’t see what Álvez wanted that letter for.”

“Very simple, Fernando: if he showed it to dad, it would give him a heart attack; he knew his health was very precarious.·”

“Yes, I know, I’m sorry about his death...”

“What can we do, Fernando? He was very ill, he couldn’t go on that way. At least now I can tell the truth, while he was alive we did what we could.”

“I’m wondering, Alicia, what good that letter could do us. I don’t think it’s very useful... Well, we’ll see what this woman tells us. Didn’t she tell you anything else?”

“Yes, she said that she’d found out about something else important, but she didn’t tell me what it was... Look out! Here she comes...

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
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Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
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Date of publicationOctober 2002
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