Four, eight, seven, five, nine.
Two, zero, eight, one, three.
It would go on like that. Random numbers, read by a gentle female voice, over shortwave.
Zero, seven, four, one, six.
Six, eight, three, six, five.
I first discovered the numbers station when I had accidently switched the Grundig from AM to shortwave. The signal wasn't strong and it wavered, but it sounded like Anne.
Anne had left me a year before that. I didn't even know where she lived. I still don't.
Eight, five, two, three, nine.
Four, six, seven, eight, zero.
They say numbers stations are run by governments to send messages to spies. Apparently, they are encoded in a way that cannot be decoded easily, so what the messages mean are a mystery.
Seven, zero, five, two, four.
Four, eight, six, nine, three.
I'd sit and listen to the broadcasts, thinking it was read by Anne. When the broadcast wasn't on the air, I'd listen to a cassette recording over and over.
Zero, seven, one, nine, three.
Three, four, nine, one, eight.
This went on for months. I didn't have a job then, so I had plenty of time. As long as I could hear Anne read random numbers in sets of five, it felt like she was with me again.
Nine, three, eight, two, zero.
One, five, two, eight, three.
Seven, six, zero, five, one.
Five, eight, two, three, nine.
It ended with a phone call, just after the number station had gone off the air and I'd turned off the Grundig.
My phone never ringed then and its ringing almost felt violent.
I picked up the phone.
I almost dropped the phone when I heard Anne's voice.
Three, two, one, six, eight.
Five, eight, zero, seven, nine.
Six, four, three, five, seven.
One, nine, seven, three, zero.
A minute or so of random numbers was followed by silence.
Anne? Is that you?
There was a squelch, followed by the ring tone.
That ring tone was the most godawful sound I'd heard in my life.
Not long after that I moved to a different city and found a job. It wasn't much of a job, but I would have something to do. And after a while I started seeing a woman, somebody I met at work.
I no longer think of Anne that much. If I ever see her on the street, I might say hello but that would be it. There really isn't anything else that I could say to her.
And hey, I found that Grundig a few days ago. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it didn't receive shortwave.
Six, eight, three, two, five.
Four, seven, nine, one, zero.