By James Paul
Meaghan Cunningham, 37 years old, nurse. Last known address: 804 W 47th Street. Last seen leaving a taxi at the corner of W 46th and Eighth after finishing a double shift in the Oncology Ward at St. Vincent’s Hospital. To date, the body has not been recovered; or should I say, my body. I am referring to myself in the third person because I can (a trait I normally despise in professional athletes). But since she no longer exists, she can allow herself a new perspective on Meaghan Cunningham. Foul play is suspected. And so is her husband.
The police would obtain a search warrant based on the screams that had been overheard by several neighbors in the week or so leading up to Ms. Cunningham’s suspicious disappearance. There they would find trace amounts of blood spattered across a door jam. They would find blood and red hairs (matching the victim, the innocent victim) caked on two or three shards of brown glass underneath the leather chair that sat just beside the nonworking fireplace. They would find a broken bottle in the couple’s trash bin in the basement matching those suspicious shards. The remainder of a bottle of Rare Amontillado they had splurged on for their last and final anniversary. They would find scratch marks on the beautiful hardwood floors that they had only just refinished the summer before. Scratch marks caused (they would later theorize) when her husband -- the suspected perpetrator -- the perp -- the pig -- had no doubt dragged her body across the floor as she clawed at it for her very life. And when they looked closer at these they would find traces of her husband’s skin and blood mixed in with her own blood. Very damning indeed.
In a pile of receipts on the nightstand on her husband’s side of the bed they would find a receipt from a local hardware store dated the morning after her disappearance detailing the suspicious purchase of a large plastic container, a bag of cement, duct tape, a plastic tarp and rope. A review of the security camera tapes would confirm that it was her husband, the suspected perpetrator. The Perp. The pig. Adulterer. It was his wattled, mottled face staring into the camera, into the unblinking eye of God. As if that all weren’t enough they would also find in the apartment a duffle bag stowed in the coat closet packed with several days worth of her husband’s clothes, socks, underwear, old family photographs, a small statue of the Virgin Mother, and an envelope containing $2,500 in cash. And of course his green card. The packing of this bag would not have been complete without the damnable green card, the very reason he had married her in the first place. All the love and the promises and the kisses had been lies. She’d been too fat for the bastard after all. The car would be impounded and in the trunk they would find more blood, more red hairs, cement hardened into the carpet. Interviews with friends and co-workers (an only child, she had no family, both parents deceased, only a distant cousin upstate) would tell a tale of unhappiness and deception. Meaghan had been depressed, suspicious that her husband had resumed the philandering that had only last year threatened to end their four-year marriage. She had confided in a co-worker only weeks before that she was concerned, that if she ever turned up dead or missing…well, the story was all too familiar. Aren’t the papers filled everyday with stories of adulterous pig husbands killing their wives?
The police would sit him in one of their joyless interrogation rooms, painted the color of dung, with dung colored metal folding chairs. They would offer him harsh coffee in a Styrofoam cup with non-dairy creamer instead of real milk. There would be the wizened old tough cop smelling of Old Spice in a white shirt with yellow stains under the arms, pretending to understand what it was like to be so angry at his wife that he might haul off and break a bottle over her skull. "Hey, who can blame you pal? We’ve all been there." And then there would be the sensitive one, the good cop, the one who would try to get him to get it off his chest. "Just let it all out, my friend. You’ll feel better." And then he -- her husband -- the Suspect -- pig -- adulterer -- would stare into the two-way mirror and feel the burning scrutiny of justice. And he would know. In that instant he would know. His denials were trite. Moot. His lawyer a fattish woman like herself, a public defender. Together they would present a ludicrous theory in his defense: The "victim" had staged everything to avenge her unfaithful husband. It was she, he would claim, who had sent him to the Hardware store, left him a note in fact. Didn’t he think it odd? he was asked. To which he could only answer, At the time he had not given it a thought. Ridiculous. Tabloid fodder. The desperate pleas of a guilty man. The pathetic squealings of an adulterous pig. Who would believe such a story? Certainly not the jury, who took only two hours to bang all the nails into his coffin and send him away to prison to rot away inside his own skin.
And so that’s how the life of Meaghan Cunningham came to a "violent end." The search for "the body" was eventually called off. Authorities theorized that it had been swept swiftly away by one river or another. And who was there to remember her? Or more importantly: Who was there to recognize her as she took her anonymous seat on her anonymous bus and headed West, thinking "I’d always wanted to go blonde."