“No matter how hard I try, I just can’t unload this house. I am sure it is not haunted, but nobody believes me.” Soo says.
“It’s next to a graveyard. That’s a dead give away. You know we are superstitious. I think we Asians are the most superstitious of all people.” Soo’s friend Pammy says.
Soo and her husband Shing showed up in The Manchu Prince here. However this is a standalone tale, with no connection with the previous story. Soo is a real estate agent who lives in Queens, New York. The city life often gets on her nerves and periodically, she would come to New Jersey to visit her friend Pammy and her husband Pan, who are regular characters in our previous stories. Sometimes Shing will accompany Soo and sometimes not.
Pammy’s friend Lulan, an unemployed anthropologist, is also present. Lulan stares at the picture of the house on Soo’s cell phone and says, “It looks old and it is not very big.”
“Oh, you don’t understand New York City. This is the prime real estate. Easily fetch an upper six-figures, no matter what condition it is in. Unfortunately it is an Asian populated area of Queens, which means nobody wants to buy a haunted property. People are only willing to offer one third of the market price.” Soo sighs.
“Yes, just look. It is actually next to a wooded area and a little park. It’s a beautiful surrounding if it is not for the graveyard and the ghosts.” Pammy says.
“I don’t understand why Asians are so superstitious? Shouldn’t we be more Americanized?” Soo says in frustration.
“Why not marketing to non-Asians in New York City?” Lulan asks.
“They usually don’t come to the Asian areas to buy houses.” Soo says in despair.
“That’s just the stereotypical view. Let’s get out of our dogmatic stupor.” Lulan says.
“Lulan, I know real estate and you don’t.” Soo says dismissively.
Lulan scrolls down her cell phone and says, “Look here. I just read this article about a real estate agent, Ms. Bornhoft, who specializes in selling haunted houses. Here. She recently sold a house haunted by friendly ghosts. You can do the same.”
“Tell me about it.” Soo says. Her English is not as good and she wants to avoid reading as much as possible.
“Well, basically there are people among non-Asians who are quirky, eccentric, and adventurous. These are the people who don’t mind to live in an Asian area and who love a house with ghosts.” Lulan says.
“There are such people? Really? Where are they?” Soo is so excited that she stands up.
“Look, I can write a little ghost description according to the rumors and an artist in Ivy Training Center can help create a ghostly picture of the house.” Lulan says.
Lulan works at the Ivy Training Center, which also employs jobless artists to teach art classes.
“Yes, I can make a brochure and do advertising on this house. Lulan, you are a genius. Now I start to understand that your study of anthropology is not completely useless.” Soo says in excitement.
Lulan shakes her head and Soo reminds her of a George Orwell quote, “It is curious how people take it for granted that they have a right to preach at you and pray over you as soon as your income falls below a certain level.”
The scheme works well. Soon there are two or three prospective buyers, but after they view the house, they tell Soo that it is not haunting enough. Soo is devastated.
Then a couple, Emily and Tommy, call Soo, insisting on touring the house immediately. Soo shows them the house.
“What kind of ghosts are they? Asian ghosts?” Emily asks.
Soo can’t decide how to answer this question. “Do they like Asian ghosts or not?” She wonders. To play it safely, Soo answers, “There are certainly Asian ghosts around here, but Americanized Asian ghosts for sure.”
“Oh, Tommy, did you hear that?” Emily says in her sweet ethereal voice.
“How often do they come? How do they haunt this house?” Emily continues.
Soo doesn’t know how to reply. She wants to tell the couple that people think this is haunted only because it is next to a graveyard and a wooded area. Nobody really sees a ghost. It’s just rumor. However she can’t really say that. If she does, the buyers might disappear into the thin air. Why can’t they just buy the house and stop asking questions?
“Well, the Asian ghosts like to eat. They are very unique in this aspect.” Soo wracks her mind to come up with something. She remembers an old Asian story her grandmother told her when she was young.
“Wow, I love hungry ghosts. You know I enjoy cooking.” Emily says.
“What kind of food do they like? I don’t cook tofu or rice noodles.” Emily continues.
“OK, that’s it. I confess that it is just being rumored that there are ghosts here, but I’ve never seen any.” Soo throws up her arms and gives up describing her imaginary phantoms.
“Well, you probably haven’t seen it, but I feel like I can see ghosts sitting at this dining table, gorging my food.” Emily insists.
“Did you hear the tapping? I think that’s a ghost.” Tommy says. He goes to the door, and opens it but nobody is there. Then there’s a crashing sound outside, but when they go out to inspect, they don’t see anything.
“Well, it’s probably the local kids. I’ve advertised this house as being haunted and put a sign out there, and even since then, they’ve been coming here to pull their little pranks.” Soo says.
“Tell you what. I am going to name this house ‘Hungry Ghost’. What do you think, Tommy? Should we host a house warming ‘Hungry Ghost’ party and invite all our friends and all the ghosts to come here to have fun?” Emily asks.
The couple is happy and Soo is happy too. The house is finally sold to the happy owner Emily and Tommy, the lovers of ghosts.