“It Was So Fascinating! Here They Were, in My Little House in the Suburbs, Trying to Plan a Murder!”
"Yo, Sal, what if the door opens and it’s not him?’ I said. ‘You’re gonna peg off an innocent person? That’ll go over big.’
"I noticed that everybody was staring at me. And nobody was saying a word. Finally, my husband opened his mouth.
”’Bren, do me a favor, please?’
"’Shut the fuck up.’
"’But, hon,’ I said, ‘I only wanna help.’
"Everybody cracked up. From that night on, I felt free about putting in my two cents. Philip didn’t always like it, but he knew I had good ideas. For instance, these dopes used to go out in their own cars to find the guys they wanted to kill. And they’d take the same car every day. I finally had to say, ‘Hello? If this guy sees the same car every place he goes, won’t he get a little suspicious?’ Go get a bunch of different cars, I told them. Or I would say, ‘Don’t wear anything too flashy when you go hunting. They’ll see you coming a mile away.’ I even had to remind Sal that if he shot somebody, he should burn the clothes he was wearing and put on new ones.
“Why do I have to burn my clothes?’ he wanted to know.
”’You dickhead!’ I told him. ‘Do you know what one piece of hair or fiber can tell the feds? Everything!‘ I used to remind them constantly not to talk on the phone, either. ‘They can stick a microphone up a cricket’s asshole,’ I said."
So that’s how Brenda wormed her way into her husband’s activities. Four or five nights a she would cook him and his friends dinner and kiss him good-bye — "the usual thing a wife does when her husband leaves for work" — and he would head off and try to kill Joey Merlino. Not that he and his pals were getting very far.
"One day, I walked down the basement, carrying a load of laundry to the washer, when I saw Philip making something back at his worktable," Brenda remembers.
"’What’s up?’ I asked him.
"’Outta my office,’ he said.
"Next night, they came back to the house late, and Philip woke me up and said, ‘Bren, everybody’s here, cook us some breakfast.’ While I’m cooking, they’re talking, and I overhear something about how they put a bomb under somebody’s car but it didn’t go off. I’m thinking: Philip’s project. Next day, he shows me the thing — it’s a foot-long pipe filled with gunpowder, with a blasting cap and a remote control detonator that he made. Philip was pretty handy with weapons. Guys were always bringing their guns over for him to fix or clean. In fact, his shooting range was in our basement, about a foot and a half away from my washer and dryer. There was a lot of lead in that wall.
"So now they had a bomb. They called it ‘the egg’ at first, but because it was long and painted brown, they started calling it ‘the turd,’ too. But every time they tried to use it, something went wrong. It wouldn’t explode. To test it, one morning Philip made a small blasting cap with just a little bit of gunpowder. Then, when most of the neighbors were at work, he was going to go across the street, put the cap on the empty lot that faced the railroad tracks, come back, and set it off using the remote. He told me it would make a little bang and maybe a tiny puff of smoke.