Published at
Cover Library Novels Global Fiction
PreviousTable of contentsNext

Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 76

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Monday 19 February 1990

At six o’clock, Judge Santini arrived at Doctor Esteban Álvez’s practice. He was accompanied by Adolfo Bernard, Federico Lizter and a policeman; Álvez opened the door himself. He was alone, Estela Cáceres had taken the day off... A quick glance at the group was enough for the gynaecologist to realise that it was not a friendly visit. A shiver ran down his spine, although practice had made him a master of self-control. He behaved calmly.

“Gentlemen, how can I help you? What do you want?” asked Álvez.

The magistrate stepped forward. “Good evening, are you Doctor Esteban Álvez?”

“I am... And who are you?”

“I’m Doctor Santini, criminal judge, we’ve come to carry out a search of your address. Here’s my ID, I’ve come to personally oversee the fulfilment of the measure. This is a judicial ruling... As you will see, Doctor Roberto Burán has filed a complaint against you. He accuses you of fraud, of illicitly using his sperm to fertilise Ms Artigas. I would like to know if you plan to put up any kind of opposition, especially if you’re willing to take part in the proceeding which will mention you. Later on you’ll be required to sign the respective certificate. Should you refuse to participate, I will request the presence of two neighbours to act as witnesses. I await your answer...”

Álvez was frozen, he didn’t know what to say. He realised that refusal didn’t make sense; if he opposed, doubtless some neighbours would collaborate. Many of them hated him, others were envious. The latter were the most dangerous. He thought about it briefly and finally spoke:

“I won’t obstruct the proceedings, go ahead, your honour, but this story of Burán’s is pure fantasy... That man’s a pathological liar.”

“All right,” said Santini, “come with me, please.”

They went directly to the room where the doctor’s desk was located. It was very elegant and carefully ordered. The judge asked, “Where do you keep your private papers?”

Álvez looked at the judge mistrustfully and said, “Forgive me, your honour, do I really have to answer that question? Wouldn’t that mean declaring against myself? Please answer me, I trust you’ll tell me the truth...”

“Of course,” said Santini, “I’m complying with a search order provided for in the penal process code, but I have no intention of violating your constitutional right to remain silent. I simply ask you in order to save time; if you fear that answering me will incriminate you, I won’t apply pressure, is that clear? You’re under no obligation to tell me anything...”

“I understand,” said the gynaecologist, “that means that if I answer, it’s because I want to, is that right?”

“Correct,” answered the judge.

“Right,” said Álvez, “you may proceed freely. I’ve got the safe behind that painting, I keep some private instruments which I consider reserved there. I ask you not to touch anything, you could affect the good name of some patients and harm me professionally. Bear in mind, your honour, that it’s my duty to keep professional secrets...”

The policeman slid the painting aside and behind it appeared a metal door which was housed in the wall. It was a classic-sized safe, approximately twenty inches tall and twelve inches wide; the lock had a modern design and could only be opened with a special key. The magistrate asked Álvez for it.

“The key? I can’t remember where I put it,” said the gynaecologist, “it must be somewhere... I’ve got such a bad memory.”

“Look, Doctor Álvez,” said Santini, “if the key hasn’t turned up in five minutes, we’ll call a locksmith. It would be regrettable to have to carry out this task if you already have the key in your power. Have no doubt, that’s what we’ll do, so why don’t we do everything in the simplest way possible?”

“Your honour, I’d like to phone my lawyer,” informed the doctor in a broken voice. “I don’t like the way you’re behaving. You act as if it was the Inquisition...”

“Phone him, Doctor Álvez,” accepted the magistrate, “but meanwhile I advise you to get on with opening the safe... Now, right this minute...”

The physician was drenched in sweat, big drops dripped down his forehead and cheeks and flooded his neck. He was uncomfortable and nervous and couldn’t hide it. Esteban Álvez phoned Doctor John Gushman, a skilful criminal lawyer of his acquaintance, who had got him out of a tight spot on more than one occasion. The lawyer was not in his practice, so he left a message to be informed immediately of his arrival. Meanwhile, Santini was hurrying Esteban Álvez along; he wanted him to open the safe as soon as possible. The doctor continued to claim he hadn’t got the key. Finally, Federico Lizter whispered in the policeman’s ear to look in the drawer of the desk. There, stuck to the upper part of the piece of furniture, the much sought after key was found. In any case, if they didn’t find it, Adolfo had kept the copy Estela Cáceres had had made, which they didn’t need to use. Santini himself opened the door. Inside were very few papers, which he quickly read one by one. None of these elements had the least to do with the problem of the fraudulent fertilisation. They searched everything, each of the rooms of the house, its every nook and cranny, the most inaccessible places, but they found absolutely nothing. There was no evidence, nothing that had a direct relation with the events. While they were searching, Federico phoned Estela Cáceres and asked her:

“Listen, Estela, it’s Federico Lizter, I’m at Álvez’s... Our search has proved fruitless, there was absolutely nothing in the safe. Think, where do you think Álvez would keep his incriminating documents?”

There was a prolonged silence on the line... Finally, she answered:

“To be honest, I don’t know what to say; if I had to bet on it, I’d say in his bedroom, or where he’s got the safe. The other rooms aren’t private, at some point during the day, strangers enter them. Esteban wouldn’t run risks, look in the private bathroom in his bedroom... It might be there too, but I don’t think so.”

“All right, Estela,” said Federico, “goodbye, if I need anything else, I’ll phone...”

After two hours of intense searching, they had to admit that there was nothing incriminating anywhere. A telephone rang at that moment. It was the secretary of the criminal court; Santini exchanged a few words with him, and then spoke to Federico and Afolfo:

“Doctor Guerrino has just informed me of the result of the search of Juana Artigas’s house.”

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
PreviousTable of contentsNext
Table of related information
Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
By the same author RSS
Date of publicationOctober 2002
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
Readers' Opinions RSS
Your opinion
How to add an image to this work

Besides sending your opinion about this work, you can add a photo (or more than one) to this page in three simple steps:

  1. Find a photo related with this text at Flickr and, there, add the following tag: (machine tag)

    To tag photos you must be a member of Flickr (don’t worry, the basic service is free).

    Choose photos taken by yourself or from The Commons. You may need special privileges to tag photos if they are not your own. If the photo wasn’t taken by you and it is not from The Commons, please ask permission to the author or check that the license authorizes this use.

  2. Once tagged, check that the new tag is publicly available (it may take some minutes) clicking the following link till your photo is shown: show photos ...

  3. Once your photo is shown, you can add it to this page:

Even though does not display the identity of the person who added a photo, this action is not anonymous (tags are linked to the user who added them at Flickr). reserves the right to remove inappropriate photos. If you find a photo that does not really illustrate the work or whose license does not allow its use, let us know.

If you added a photo (for example, testing this service) that is not really related with this work, you can remove it deleting the machine tag at Flickr (step 1). Verify that the removal is already public (step 2) and then press the button at step 3 to update this page. shows 10 photos per work maximum. Idea, design & development: Xavier Badosa (1995–2018)