If I Had a Time Machine (This Is How I Would Save Christine Chubbuck)
People love talking about time machines, what they would do if they had one. I would travel back in time to save Christine Chubbuck, the famous Florida news reporter who killed herself on-air in 1974. I’ve never seen the footage of her suicide, but I understand she ranted against her employer (WXLT-TV, Channel 40) before she pulled out a revolver and shot herself behind her right ear on live television. She died fourteen hours later in a Sarasota hospital.
Here is what we know about Christine Chubbuck:
•She was a serious journalist who took issue with some of the profession’s status-quo practices
•She loved the music of Roberta Flack
•She was kind and empathetic (she was known to perform puppet shows for children with intellectual disabilities as part of a hospital volunteer program)
•She lamented that she was still a virgin at age twenty-nine
•She suffered from severe depression
•She was beautiful
•Her story has pulled me away from suicidal ideation on several occasions (I cannot explain exactly why or how)
So, if I had a time machine, I would do the right thing and save Christine Chubbuck. I owe her that much.
I would travel back to the year 1973 or 1972 when Christine was fighting for the affection of a male co-worker who ended up loving someone else (her friend Andrea Kirby, actually). I would befriend Christine. I would help her to go on dates or get laid or do whatever she might have needed at that time. I would be a close and attentive confidant. I would support her work and encourage her in general. I would validate her criticisms of establishment media; yes, I would take up that same crusade. That is what I would attempt, at least.
Christine Chubbuck was better than most of us. It’s sickening to think that such an exemplary human being was murdered by this rotten world. The same happens to many good people, I guess. But I owe a debt to Christine Chubbuck.
In the city where I live, I hang posters of her face on concrete walls and bus-stop shelters. We cannot forget. We have to take care of our Christine Chubbucks, the decent and delicate people of this world.
One day, I will build a religion around Christine. She will be the messiah. Violeta Parra will be canonized as a saint. This is what I will do until I have a time machine.
Andrew Novak is a journalist and news editor in Washington, DC. He likes to read. He likes to write. He likes to take pictures with his camera. His fiction has appeared in Fluland, Shotgun Honey, Dark Moon Digest, Out of the Gutter Online, and Bizarro Central.