I was minding my own business, just meandering down the sidewalk next to the busy boulevard. As I waited for the light at the corner of Third and Vine, a black sedan with dark tinted windows and vanity plates that read PckrUpr slid in next to the curb in front of me. With a mild hum of electronics, the glass of the rear door gracefully retreated into the metal hull of the automobile.
The inky interior of the vehicle revealed little detail of its occupants. I leaned in closer, hoping to get a better view. A sunglasses-clad face with frizzy black and white hair materialized before me. Since the face's eyes were covered and bore all the expression of seasoned poker player, I could not determine whether the stranger's intentions were malicious or friendly.
The invader of my pleasant and heretofore uneventful afternoon studied me from behind the black lenses. I didn't flinch, returning the other's gaze. The classic showdown at high noon, we each bided our time, waiting for the other to make the first move.
A fur-clad hand slinked up and, with a practiced flick popped the Ray Bans down a long, shapely nose, revealed eyes as black as onyx. In a lilting Texas accent a husky, alto voice said, "Howdy, stranger. Going my way?"
I didn't answer right away but instead regarded my propositioner.
Not waiting for a reply, the door clicked open, and the stranger slid to the far side of the back seat. With a coquettish smile, she patted the seat.
I hesitated for a heartbeat then slid in, closing the door with a snick behind me.
With a mild screech of tires, the driver pulled away from the curb. As we mingled with the heavy traffic, the stranger extended her paw, "I'm Zara. That," she indicated to the driver, "is Allan."
Two black ears held the signature cap in place as the driver grunted and raised a furry paw in way of greeting.
"Mr. Rhew, we have much to discuss."
"You know me?" I asked, a bit taken aback.
"Oh, yes. I've been following you for some time. Are you ready to have some fun?" Zara had a twinkle in her eye and a sly smile on her lips.
Suddenly, I knew I had made the right decision, and I returned the expression. It occurred to me that for the first time in my life I had willingly allowed myself to be picked up, and by a Panda of all people.
Allan navigated the heavy car down the busy street, dodging cabbies and running reds, as we continued our conversation deep into the twilight of the evening.
So now you know the story of how I got picked up by a Panda....okay, maybe that isn't exactly how it went down, but I'm not so great at remembering the deets. What is truth and what is fiction? Well, the truth is that I did, in fact, get picked up. And that, ladies and germs, is my BIG announcement. After three years of work, my book, 122 Rules, got picked up by Pandamoon Publishing!
To celebrate, my wife, Erin Rhew (a brilliant writer in her own right--shameless plug: get her books, The Prophecy and The Outlanders now on Amazon!), and I went on a mission to find all the panda pics in town. Come join us in our Pandamoneum!
|Erin and I and an itty bitty panda|
|Jay, a little 'tude, and a little panda|
|Cray panda pics!|
|More cray panda pics!|
|Ahhhhhhh panda pics everywhere!|
|Easily the best looking panda ever|
|Erin and the latest in panda wear|
|James Belushi panda moment|
|The little panda actually looks a bit frightened|
|There there, don't be scared of the lunatic|
|What you talkin' 'bout panda?|
|Our writing assistant, Trinity, is highly annoyed the publishing company isn't called Cat Moon|
|Lookin' totally Portland with my panda wear|
|Channel your inner panda, Erin|
|Channel your inner panda, Deek|
|Lookin' too cool for school, Erin created me a Gangsta Panda!|
Now I need to take a moment and send a message to my wife. Erin has been my biggest supporter and #1 fan. She has spent countless hours editing and reviewing my book and listening to me droll on about this or that in relation to my writing. There is zero chance 122 Rules would have made it as far as it has without her.
Erin, you can try all you want to give me all the credit, but, my love, without you I wouldn't have made it. You are the inspiration to my perspiration. You are my Ideal Reader, the one I write to. You are the love of my life. Thank you for everything you do, all you've sacrificed, and your unconditional love. You are the person I strive to be like--though I fall short. It is with you that I find the true source of my happiness.
Thanks to all my peeps! Keep watching as this saga unfolds. Without a doubt, it will be quite entertaining.