* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are a little more cautious than the Vatican in granting sainthood to the dearly departed. Deity, yes, but not sainthood. Please say hello to first-time Big Jewel author David Guzman.

I’m Not Quite Ready To Deify The Dead Leader Of Our Post-Apocalyptic Clan

By: David Guzman

The world we used to know is gone. In this burnt-out landscape, nearly wiped clean of humanity due to a raging, merciless pandemic, our small group has survived a brutal winter, near starvation and attacks from other roving tribes. Even though there’s little evidence of a higher power or any larger meaning to this meager existence, I’m not about to give up. We must endure. We must carry on. We must never lose hope.

I’m on board with all that. What I’m hesitant about, though, is elevating our former leader, who died only a week ago, to the status of demigod. I think our group jumped on that a little too quickly.

There’s no doubt Reynolds united this group. He saw that each of us had a strength and a talent to contribute to the whole and pulled us together. But it’s not because he was psychic and could see events before they happened, as some here have started to surmise. When I heard that, a mere day after he died, I was like, “Whoa, we’re giving this guy magic powers all of a sudden?” If he were psychic, wouldn’t he have foreseen that our deer meat had gone rancid and would lead to his death? Some people have great managerial skills, and can bring out the best in their team. And that’s what Reynolds had. It’s in no way clairvoyant, and it won’t necessarily stop someone from eating rancid venison.

Reynolds was a fine leader, that’s for sure. We wouldn’t have made it through the mountain pass without his command. But he wasn’t infallible. There was that time he called something “gay” and he could see that we were not cool with it. When we met him he had two severed fingers that he laughed off as “the cost of once owning a pontoon boat,” and he severed a third finger while making a catapult we didn’t need. And it took him a good week to realize that we had two Kimmies in our group, and a few more days still to know which one was Kimmy Matthews and which one was Kimmy Gunderson.

But hey, that’s human. What’s not human is the ability to shapeshift, as some are now claiming Reynolds could do. Chet has insisted he’s seen it happen, but remember, Chet also used to make money participating in clinical drug trials. When Chet says he often saw Reynolds morph into a giant worm at night, he probably just saw Reynolds bundled up in a sleeping bag. Chet is great with a crossbow, but let’s not listen to Chet on this one.

Nor should we take stock in the rumor that Reynolds had a pack of wolves who obeyed his every command. And that those commands were communicated via an ancient tonal language. He did occasionally have to chase off stray dogs that were being a nuisance where we had set up camp, but it’s a real stretch to attribute that to anything miraculous or supernatural. Besides, those dogs and other animals wouldn’t have been scouring our site if we had stored our deer meat properly.

I’m just saying give this the proper time to gestate. You can’t force it so soon. It takes generations for myths and religions to develop. It’s very possible that my great-great-grandchildren will one day speak of Reynolds and his power to separate from his shadow, the regeneration of his severed fingers, his magical hacksaw, or his emergence from a cocoon — again, Chet, probably just a sleeping bag — but it’s not credible to buy into those things a mere week after his death.

I know how dire things are. We just may be the last of humanity left alive. But it’s best that we turn to one another for hope and inspiration, and not the so-called “Reynolds Bible” or “Book of Reynolds” that’s been going around. Seeing as how it’s basically a binder of men’s fitness and muscle magazines that Reynolds carried, I don’t hold it sacred. I’ve got nothing against the article about getting better biceps in three weeks, I just don’t read it as the parable of mercy and forgiveness that most of you do.

With that said, I won’t be partaking in Reynolds-based rituals. I’m afraid I can’t help you exhume his body a third time to see if his fingers have grown back. And I’m going to have to excuse myself from tonight’s recreation of the Last Supper of Reynolds — which, by the way, is taken from a well-established practice from another religion.

All right, I’ve said my piece. All I ask is that at the end of the night you please properly store all the food. If you need me, I’ll be naked in my hut, singing songs of worship to Doogan, a discarded carnival bumper car, our one and true Lord.