Spy of the First Person

Sam Shepard

December 6, 2017 
The following is from the final work from the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, actor, and musician Sam Shepard, drawn from his transformative last days. Spy of the First Person tells in a braid of voices the story of an unnamed narrator who traces his memories of work, adventure, and travel as he undergoes medical tests and treatments for a condition that is rendering him more and more dependent on the loved ones who are caring for him.

It was that time of day that I love so much. That people have written songs about. The time of day when afternoon is turning to night. Twilight, I guess it’s called, and I snuck across the road. I snuck across the road hoping to get a peek at him before he began any conversation with somebody unseen or seen. I crossed the road. It had been raining for three days straight. Raining. The street was still running with water. Water was coming down everywhere. Not rain but residual water. I got to the other side through the parked cars, through all kinds of parked cars. There were Toyotas, there were Chevys, there were Fords, there were Zumbayas. All kinds of cars and I got to the hedge which was neither a camellia hedge or a hydrangea or anything like that. It was unidentifiable. There were white flowers coming out of it but I didn’t know quite what they were. I can make him out through the white flowers, through the hedge. But I wasn’t quite sure. I could make something out through there, but I wasn’t sure what. Oh never mind, I’ll figure it out later. That’s the thing about later. You don’t know what’s coming up. You don’t know how all the loose ends are going to gather together. Something for sure is going to happen but you don’t know what it is. For instance—I’m outside, for instance. Out here with the birds and the bugs. Not exactly outside, but close enough. Just across the way. It’s never like it was. The clouds. The big sky. The flowers. The chirping.

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From Spy of the First Person. Used with permission of Knopf. Copyright © 2017 by Sam Shepard.

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