To tell the truth: Đằng was scared

The house next to the "Haunted House." (Photo: Ngoc Lan/ Nguoi-Viet)

Ngọc Lan & Ðằng-Giao/Người Việt

Translation: Titi Mary Tran

Editor’s note: Nguoi Viet News reporters Ngoc Lan and Đằng Giao set out to answer the questions regarding the property, and the house, at the corner of Euclid Street and Hazard Avenue in Santa Ana, Calif. Is it really haunted? What are the creepy apparitions? This Halloween season, they tell their story over six days. Today: Part 5.

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A beautiful, elegant woman opened the door of the house.

The woman — her name is Gloria — is 55 and the owner of the house, which was built on the same piece of land as the “haunted house” in Little Saigon.

Seeking answers about whether Gloria had experienced any brushes with the supernatural, Nguoi Viet reporters Ngoc Lan and Đằng Giao visited her, guided by Mr. Nguyễn, her neighbor and the owner of the “haunted house” at Euclid Street, Lot 2. Gloria owns the home on Hazard Street, Lot 1.

After an introduction from Nguyễn, Gloria seemed very pleasant and said, “Oh, I heard the rumors a long time ago, even when I built the house.”

When asked whether she wanted to talk about the ghost rumors, Gloria sounded hesitant, saying: “We’re about to have dinner.”

Oh, no worry,” the visitors said. “We will come back another time.”

However, as the three were about to leave, she changed her mind and said: “It’s OK, I have five minutes. Come in.” (She actually spoke for nearly 30.)

The inside of the house was very luxurious.

Nguyễn commented on the house non-stop. Đằng was almost silent. Ngoc was drawn to a large painting when she entered the house. The painting depicted a not-so-meek face of a woman with Asian lines of “womanhood,” but she looked angry with sharp eyes covered by a few messy hairs.

The three guests sat at the corner of an island bar, and Ngoc was facing the painting. To the left of her was Gloria, and to the right were Đằng and Nguyễn.

Let me tell you,” Gloria said. “(At one time), there was an abandoned old house here. The homeless came to live here. Later they floored the house. I remember it was around 2002; this place was an empty piece of land, abandoned for a long time.”

One day, on my way to work, I saw the land was for sale. I told my husband this land was good to build a house on. So I called the owner and asked for the price. They said the other side was sold already, but that was OK. I paid $250,000 for this one. After that, I called an architect, and everyone came together to build this house.”

With an excited voice, she said, “When I told my friends I had just bought the land, my friends said the land was haunted. I said that’s good because the other owner was Vietnamese, and the Vietnamese believe in superstition, so they might sell it to me.”

While she was speaking, Ngoc asked for permission to take a picture of everyone talking (with the painting included, of course), but Gloria seemed upset, and she spoke sharply.

If it was not for this young man, my new neighbor here, I would have refused you 100 percent at the door, let alone invite you in,” Gloria said.

Gloria continued: “Let me tell you how superstitious the Vietnamese are. When I was building the house, the builder, who is our friend, Martin, (said) many people stopped by, were curious and asked about it. One day, I saw a man and a woman stopping by, and they said the land on the other side also was haunted, the whole area was haunted. They said there was a rumor that one of the construction workers at my house died.

I’m so disappointed. I said, ‘That’s enough! You believe whatever you want.’ I don’t understand why you Vietnamese people believe in ghosts that much, while you don’t believe in people like me.

We have lived here 15 years already. Our children grew up here. My niece and nephew were born here. We’re happy and we don’t see anything. This house is perfect. People asked me if I want to sell. Of course not; I love this house,” she said.

Gloria said she went to Santa Ana City Hall to get paperwork about whether someone had died on this land, and the answer was no. We contacted Santa Ana Police-department of records, who said they kept the paper work back then but not now, and that all housing records is now accessible to real estate agents.

After reminding the three guests that she talked with them only because Nguyễn is a nice neighbor, Gloria added, “I know the previous owner of the house that Nguyễn just bought was Nancy and Philips, who are doctors. They built the house (in 2005) after us. One day, I called them and let them know I was building a house next to them. And I asked if they knew their land was haunted. … I was willing to buy that land, and buy that ghost for them. They felt insulted. They said, ‘Gloria, what you said is disrespecting.’ I said sorry to them about what I said, and we became good neighbors after that.”

According to Gloria, the reason Nancy and Philips sold the house (in 2016) was because “they wanted to live near their daughter in Irvine.” This is corroborated with what Ngoc and Đằng heard from Van Tai, who bought the house from the Nancy-Philips couple and sold it to Nguyễn two years later.

Ngoc Lan interviewed Mr. Anh, who lives in the “Haunted House.”(Photo: Dan Huynh/Nguoi-Viet)

So, according to the previous owners, the “haunted house” has never been abandoned nor listed for sale repeatedly without buyers, as was rumored years ago.

With so much discussion about the house, and the sun now down, Đằng, Ngoc and Nguyễn left Gloria’s house, and the two reporters said goodbye to Nguyễn.

While Ngoc was excited about what was going on, Đằng felt relief after they left the house.

Perhaps I was smiling, but my soul was not completely somber,” he said.

Ngoc: Nguyễn said something with Đằng was ‘strange’

Throughout the process, from the first time I talked to Đằng about working on the “haunted house” project, to meeting the owners of the land and houses, everything was strangely smooth. To say I don’t believe in something belonging to the “souls” would be incorrect. I believed deeply that someone from up there was helping me.

The next morning, before getting to work, I got a voicemail from Nguyễn.

I called him back, and he wanted to know when the article would be published. After I said, “I will let you know,” Nguyễn said: “Oh, take your time. You can come back to take pictures if you want; I will buy things this weekend to make it more presentable. But I have a request to not post my picture, I don’t want people to look at the picture and say ‘the young man who lives in the haunted house’; it sounds weird!”

I laughed in agreement. Nguyễn seemed hesitant for a moment, then said, “Last night at my house, I saw Brother Đằng Giao seemed to be scared.”

Really? I felt normal, nothing strange,” I answered. “Your house is beautiful. I think Đằng Giao was normal.”

Nguyễn said: “You were natural, but I realized brother Đằng was scared.”

At work, while everyone was talking about the haunted house, I remembered what Nguyễn had said. I turned to Đằng and asked, “Last night at the haunted house, what did you do that the owner said you were scared?”

I was really scared!” Đằng said calmly while his eyes were focused on the computer screen.

My eyes opened widely: “What? Scared? You saw something to be afraid of? Are you joking or for real?”

Đằng turned to me and said: “I had chills the second I stepped inside the house. I have special senses, not like stone-cold people like you.”

So when we came to Ms. Gloria’s house, were you scared?”

Still scared; I still felt the chills, weird,” Đằng said.

Looking at his serious face, I burst out laughing. “Oh stop it. It’s nothing. Don’t scare me.”

He grunted, “Oh shut up, stone-cold.”

Since that day, the Đằng “scared of ghosts” rumor has flown all over the newsroom. But really, I believe Đằng was being truthful.

A week later, also a Wednesday, before heading to work, I called Nguyễn to schedule a time to take a picture, and if possible, to shoot video of the house.

Nguyễn picked up the phone and answered, “Any time, Sister.”

I told Đằng we would come back the haunted house to film and take pictures, and Đằng said “OK,” stoically.

By the time our work in the newsroom was done, however, it was 7:30 p.m., and Đằng had gone home. He left without saying a word. I had to reschedule with Nguyễn the next day.

Đằng was off on Thursday, but he did say “just call me when you go.” Around 4 p.m., I called, and he said he was busy with other appointments. So I asked Nguoi Viet photographer Dân Huỳnh to come along to take pictures and video.

This time, besides Nguyễn, there was Mr. Anh, whom Nguyễn called Uncle, the one who was sweeping the front yard whom I had seen earlier.

Mr. Anh, more than 60 years old, is hospitable and funny but not as nice as Nguyễn. He said straightforwardly, “Last time, if you came and saw me, for sure I would not greet you, because you came without announcement. No one does that in America.”

When asked what he thought about this house, Mr. Anh said, “I myself am not scared. Even if it’s true, I’m not scared. Because I believe I’m a good person, no one will harm me, whether it’s the living or the dead. If we respect them, there’s nothing to worry about. And if we’re scared and believe in the rumors, we wouldn’t have bought the house and moved here.”

Mr. Anh continued, “We bought the house voluntarily. We knew of the rumors before buying the house, not after. I’m not saying I don’t believe in it completely; I still have some suspicions. But until this moment, after living here, to me those rumors have no evidence.”

I like this house. Clean, beautiful,” he added. “The only thing I don’t like is that it’s at the corner, so I can’t open the door too often, because when the door is opened it’s really noisy, and if we keep it closed, people have questions.”

What Mr. Anh said, along with the fact that Nguyễn told me the house had a three-car garage, suddenly made me understand why this house looks so quiet and there’s no car in front every time I drive by. Simply because of noise and dust, cars are kept in the garage instead of outside, like most houses in this area.

Returning to the house, I walked around and tried to see if I could “catch” any “strange “ feeling. I looked up to the stairs; I looked out to the garden that needed caring hands. I looked at the unorganized things lying around. Still no strange feeling compared to the previous time.

After talking about the “haunted house” for a while, Mr. Anh suggested, “If you want, I invite you to come and stay one night with us to see if there is a ghost. Do you dare?”

My goodness, my final purpose was just stated, and the owner said it without my having to bring it up.

So when can we come, Uncle?” I immediately responded.

Mr. Anh turned to Nguyễn and waited. Nguyễn quickly said, “This weekend. Saturday is good.”

Nguyễn revealed there is an empty room; Đằng and I could stay there.

Mr. Anh asked, “You’re afraid of coming alone? Scared of ghost or human?”

Oh, it’s not that, but when I work, there are at least two people. If one doesn’t see it, maybe the second one sees it, and we have video, Uncle,” I responded, smiling.

Uncle smiled and said: “Just kidding; come with as many people as you like. But I think you should not ask people who are so lighthearted.”

The reason, he said, is that the “lighthearted” usually imagine, analyze, sometimes just a noise, they can think of anything, and houses always have noises during the night, such as the fan, the refrigerator, the air conditioner.

What he said made sense, though I didn’t know who I was going to ask to accompany me. Still in my thought, Mr. Anh said, “Like Đằng Giao the other day, I think you should not ask him; he seemed to be too scared!”

I laughed and left with Dân Huỳnh, scheduled to come back on Saturday’s night.

Next: The finale (the night at the “haunted house”; will we see a ghost?”)

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