Monday, September 29, 2008

Deeper Dish excerpt by Marc Harshbarger

The many colorful characters of Marc Harshbarger’s first novel, Deep Dish, return for more sordid misadventures in this sequel as the groovy gay saga of love and lust in the 1970s continues. So get ready for more nail-biting cliffhangers, passionate encounters and disco fever as the Dish becomes Deeper!

Deeper Dish
Publisher: (August 27, 2008)
ISBN 978-1435728264


Back at 369 West Roscoe . . .

. . . having chugged Joshua’s three remaining Pabst Blue Ribbons in their fridge, Hank Honeywell isn’t feeling so hot either. But instead of getting sick, he becomes even more upset and breaks a few dishes on the kitchen floor. When this emotional release doesn’t do the trick, he moves on to the bedroom, where he discovers a mysterious locked trunk in his former roommate’s closet.

“You asshole!” the young man yells after he finally breaks the lock with a hammer and opens the lid to discover hundreds of record albums, which causes something to snap inside of him. Joshua’s unwillingness to share his collection of music only serves as an analogy for his obvious disinterest in Hank, who now goes off the deep end and begins throwing random LPs out the window:

Goldie (Goldie Hawn’s 1972 solo album)
Rock Gently (Rock Hudson’s 1971 solo effort)
The Star of “The Flying Nun” (Sally Field’s 1967 solo recording)

All go sailing on to Roscoe Street, followed by:

Blue Hawaii (Elvis movie soundtrack)
To Sir, With Love (soundtrack featuring Lulu’s big hit)

And then—without even looking—he tosses out the movie soundtrack to the musical, Bye Bye Birdie, while . . .

Twelve floors below . . .

. . . Detective Sam Sweeney is strolling along the sidewalk when he’s suddenly attacked by an unidentified flying object.

“What the—?”

Upon further investigation—as he rubs his bleeding forehead—the confused cop discovers his assailant to be a rather fetching Ann-Margret (on the cover of a record album).

What the hell is going on around here?, he wonders as he watches more LPs fly through the air. And then he sees an album (Meet the Brady Bunch) hit the windshield of a moving car, which goes out of control and drives on to the sidewalk.

“Hey, lady, watch out!” Sam warns a female pedestrian before he lunges to push her out of the way of imminent danger.

And in 14B . . .

. . . Bixby Schwartz answers his ringing doorbell to find a familiar face smiling from the hallway.

“Hi,” a shirtless Nick Perrini says while scratching his left nipple.

“Nick, how are you?”

“Not so good” (even though the young man looks to be in very fine form).

“Oh dear.”

“I was wondering if I might be able to stay with you for a night or two.”

Meanwhile . . .

“Hey, mister, are you okay? Please wake up.”

Someone is gently slapping Sam Sweeney’s face as he opens his eyes to find himself staring up at a beautiful black woman, who smiles and says: “Welcome back, baby.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Sandy Beach. You saved my life.”

“I did?”

“You pushed me out of the way of that car over there.”

He looks to where she’s pointing at a Pontiac Grand Prix stuck in a nearby hedge.

“You’re my hero, honey. What’s your name?”


“Well, Sam, thank you.” She kisses him on the cheek. “Now how are you feeling? You hit your head pretty hard there on the curb.”

“I think I’ll be fine.”

Miss Beach helps him to his feet, but they then have to duck as yet another LP—Introducing Dean Jones (a 1968 solo album by the star of The Love Bug and That Darn Cat)—suddenly sails over them before nailing a lamppost.

“Where the hell are all these records coming from?”

“Up there I think,” Sandy tells him while pointing at an apartment building window, from which a few more albums are tossed.

“Whoever it is is in big trouble,” Detective Sweeney says before he goes to investigate—and discovers that Miss Beach is following him. “What are you doing?”

“This is where I was headed before you rescued me.”


“Swear to God. My friend Bixby lives here.”

“I hope he’s not our culprit—or your next visit might be to a jail cell.”

“What are you—a cop?”

“Detective Sweeney at your service,” he tells a surprised Sandy while flashing his badge.

And as she follows him on to the elevator, Miss Beach wonders if it’s finally time to leave Howard Haze in the past and look to new horizons—especially those whose tight jeans accentuate a positive ass.

At the hospital . . .

“Del and I would like you to return to work for us once you’re well again.”

“Thank you, Charlie,” Kate Mahoney tells her former boss after learning that she was fired during her unfortunate brain tumor affliction.

“So you’ll come back?”

“Of course, I love working for you—and Del.”

“And we love having you around. The office just ain’t the same without you.”

And while this mutual lovefest continues . . .

Out in the corridor . . .

“He used to bring me flowers at least once a week when we were first married,” Charlotte Haze recalls with a wistful smile. “One time for our anniversary he filled every room in our house with roses—and, of course, he still always gives me a dozen on my birthday.”

“Your husband sounds like a nice guy,” says Matt Mahoney.

“Oh, he can be very thoughtful.”

“Mom’s always liked him.”

I bet she has—but Mrs. Haze quickly scolds herself for her jealousy: Shame on you, Charlotte, the poor woman just had brain surgery.

“So, when do you want me to come over?”

“Oh, Matt, thank you.” The relieved woman hugs him. “You don’t know how much this means to me.”

“Chandler can’t marry Delia, so I’ll do whatever you want.”

“How about three this afternoon?”

“I’ll be there.”

She embraces the young man again before they return to Kate’s room to find her and Charlie in a clinch of their own.

“I was just thanking your sweet husband for the lovely roses,” Matt’s mother explains. “Aren’t they gorgeous?”

Charlotte smiles and nods and resists the sudden urge to take the bouquet and wallop her spouse for once again letting his fingers do the walking on another beautiful blonde (although Kate’s hair color obviously comes from a bottle).

At the Davenports . . .

“Ginger, thank you for coming over to see Cary,” Abra greets the girl. “He seems so depressed lately. I just thought maybe—since you’re such good friends—you might be able to find out what’s troubling him.”

“I think he just gets lonely sometimes.”

“Don’t we all?” the older woman laughs while Miss Sweeney smiles and pretends not to be extremely uncomfortable. “I know, I must seem rather overprotective.”

“You’re his mother.”

“And it’s what mothers do best—worry about their children.”

“I wish I had a mother to worry about me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, dear.”

“It’s okay. My dad does enough worrying for two parents.”

“Grant! Darling, come down here and say hello to Ginger,” Abra insists when she spots her son on the stairs.

“Hi,” the young man says with little enthusiasm upon reaching his mother and their guest.

“Hi, Grant, how’s your summer?” inquires Miss Sweeney, who can’t help but notice his nice tan legs below his tight white tennis shorts.

“It’s okay,” he responds with a shrug.

“Oh my God!”

“What’s wrong, Mother?”

“I just remembered we have tickets to the theater tonight, but with everything that’s been going on, it completely slipped my mind until just now.”

“Is the show at Del’s theater?”

“Yes, but I’m sure your stepfather is in no mood to sit through a silly comedy starring Gary Collins.”

“Gary Collins?” Ginger’s ears perk up at the mention of one of her favorite TV actors (the handsome star of The Sixth Sense and Born Free—both sadly short-lived series—has been featured in many of her erotic fantasies).

“Yes, do you like him?”

“He’s all right,” the girl replies (without betraying her true excitement).

“Would you like to go see him tonight?”

“Oh, I don’t know—” (Yes! Yes! Yes!)

“Grant darling, do you have any plans this evening?”


“Splendid! Then you can take Ginger to the theater. Oh, this works out perfectly,” Abra happily declares. “You can pick the tickets up at the box office and grab a bite to eat before the show—my treat, of course.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Davenport.” (Oh my God, I’m going to see Gary Collins in person!)

“You’re welcome, dear. Grant will pick you up at six. Now come along, let’s go see if Cary will accept visitors.”

As she follows the woman upstairs, Ginger smiles down at her bewildered date for the evening and waves: “See you later.”

Raising his hand in return, Grant realizes that once again his mother is true to her word: “I will find you the perfect girl.”

He then sticks a fist in his mouth to prevent a scream from being heard.

At the Hazes . . .

. . . Charlotte has arrived back home to find her new daughter-in-law has moved in.

“Oh, what a pleasant surprise.”

“Is it?”

“Of course, my dear, you’re part of the family now,” she tells Helen. “Our home is your home.”

“Thank you.”

When Charlotte now decides to fix herself a drink to officially welcome the new Mrs. Haze, the girl agrees to a pre-lunch cocktail but feels the need to clear the air again about their kiss at the reception.

“I thought we decided to forget all about that,” Charlotte nervously laughs.

“We did—but you’ve always been there for me ever since my mother died, so I just want to make sure that we’re okay.”

“We’re wonderful, dear. Our friendship isn’t going to be ruined by one silly kiss—is it?”

Helen smiles and shakes her head.

“Of course not, we’ve been friends far too long to ever let that happen.”

“I’ve always admired you, Charlotte.”

“You have?”

“You’re the perfect wife and mother.”

“And you’re much too kind.”

“It’s true. You take care of this huge house without any help, you volunteer as the official Welcome Wagon Lady of Winnetka, and you still find time to take visitors on tours to see your brother’s grave.”

“Oh, they see more than just his final resting place. I point out all his favorite spots in town and the various locations used in his last film” (the Gideon Love Memorial Tour—by appointment only—is still quite popular twenty years after his tragic death).

Kitchens of Distinction,” Helen sighs with fond memories of Mr. Love’s final flick, which was filmed in Winnetka. “It’s one of my favorites.”

“Gideon, Liz, Rock. What a cast. Too bad the critics weren’t kind.”

“What do they know? They hate everything.”

“At least the public embraced it. My brother did have his fans,” Charlotte says while wiping away a tear.

"I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned him.”

“No no, I love talking about Gideon.”

“Just like I love talking about my mother.”

“She was a wonderful person.”

“Did you love her?”

“Of course I did. She was my best friend.”

“Were you in love with her?”


“Before you kissed me, you called me her name.”

“I did? I don’t recall.”

“You said I remind you of her.”

“You do. You look so much like her . . .” The two women stare at each other until Charlotte finally admits: “I was in love—with your mother.”

“Did she love you?”

“Helen, it was all so very long ago.”

“Did you ever kiss her?”

“Once—only once—but then I married Charlie and she married your father and we all became such good friends. We both had our families to consider, our children . . . and then she was gone . . .”

Embracing her weeping mother-in-law, Helen holds her close until her tears subside.

“I’ve never told anyone that,” Charlotte confesses. “My love for your mother has been locked away for so long . . . until now . . .”

And then as the grandfather clock in the foyer suddenly strikes twelve—announcing the most popular time for lunch—the two Mrs. Hazes hungrily devour each other’s lips once again.

At 369 West Roscoe . . .

. . . the record-throwing culprit has been cornered by Detective Sam Sweeney and his new sidekick, Sandy Beach, who got the building manager, Nurse Nell Carmelle, to open the locked door of Apartment 12B.

“Hank, why don’t you slowly put down Miss Peggy Lee and step away from the window before anyone else gets hurt.”

The distraught young man shakes his head and cries: “No! I can’t! I gotta throw out every last one of them!”

“Haven’t you ever heard of a trash can, kid?” Nell receives an angry glare from the cop.

“Hey, I’m only trying to help.”

“Oh no! Not Judy At Carnegie Hall!” Sandy suddenly screams.

“I’m sorry,” the boy sobs as Miss Garland takes flight and Miss Beach collapses in shock.

“Oh, honey, he just tossed Judy out the window!” she informs Bixby Schwartz as he now enters the apartment with a shirtless Nick Perrini. “One second she was here—the next, gone.”

“Hank, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m sorry, Bixby, but I have to get rid of everything that belonged to him.”

“Oh, my dear boy, you don’t need to do this” (especially after Hank picks up a 1974 Broadway musical flop starring Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters).

“What’s Mack & Mabel?” asks Nick.

“Only Jerry Herman’s best score,” Chicago’s eminent show tune enthusiast explains.

“Who’s Jerry Herman?”
Bixby cannot believe what he is hearing: Has this child been living under a rock? Unable to fathom how anyone could not know the composer of Hello, Dolly and Mame, Mr. Schwartz is anxious to educate the young man about the marvelous world of musicals. However, he realizes that his first priority is to prevent Hank from harming others with his shocking disregard for all music—and rescue one of his favorite shows from the boy’s itchy fingers. “Original cast albums don’t grow on trees!” he wants to scream—though wouldn’t that be wonderful?

“Once I’m through pitching all of these, I might as well be next,” Hank announces to the room.

“Oh my God!” Sandy gasps as they all realize the troubled boy might soon be joining the discarded LPs.

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