COPYRIGHT Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder. All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.
Part Two: Backstopping
Backstopping: An array of bogus cover identifications issued to an operative that will stand up to fairly rigorous investigation. —The Dictionary of Espionage
I'd placed an ad in three local papers looking for a home healthcare aide for my dad. The ad made it clear anyone was welcome, the requirements weren't exactly strict. I doubted there was anyone left out there—I'd already been to the well too many times.
Exactly seven responses came in. Three of them were from people who somehow misunderstood the ad, were themselves looking to hire someone. Another two phone messages were in foreign accents so thick I couldn't even be sure they were trying to speak English. One was from a perfectly reasonable-sounding, pleasant-voiced man who said his name was Antwoine Leonard.
Not that I had much free time, but I arranged to meet this guy Antwoine for coffee. I wasn't going to have him meet my father until he had to—I wanted to hire him first, before he could see what he was going to have to deal with, so he couldn't back out so easily.
Antwoine turned out to be a huge, scary-looking black dude with prison tats and dreadlocks. My guess was right: just as soon as he could, he told me he'd just got out of prison for auto theft, and it wasn't his first stint in the slammer. He gave me the name of his parole officer as a reference. I liked the fact that he was so open about it, didn't try to hide it. In fact, I just liked the guy. He had a gentle voice, a surprisingly sweet smile, a low-key manner. Granted, I was desperate, but I also figured that if anyone could handle my dad, he could, and I hired him on the spot.
"Listen, Antwoine," I said as I got up to leave. "About the prison thing?"
"It's a problem for you, isn't it?" He looked at me directly.
"No, it's not that. I like you being so straight with me about it."
He shrugged. "Yeah, well—"
"I just think you don't need to be so totally honest with my dad."