Saigon Rumors

A Story from

A Saigon Party:
And Other Vietnam War Short Stories

by Diana J. Dell

Trung Trac Nhi, rumor had it, was not the illustrious beauty's real name. Numerous people believed that she had more aliases than Ho Chi Minh did during his entire wandering lifetime.

Some said she was Eurasian, while others were quite sure of her Amerasian roots. But one thing was true: This was a woman of mystery.

One rumor was that the father she never met had been a minor Irish poet, who frequently visited Vietnam to hunt tigers near Dalat.

At one time or another, somebody told someone else, on the best authority, that Trung Trac Nhi was the illegitimate daughter of a Corsican priest, who spent decades proselytizing in Hue; or a wealthy German rubber plantation owner from the Delta; or Clark Gable, who shot a movie in Indochina in the 1930s.

Trung Trac Nhi was one of those ageless women, the type who appears to be 29 at puberty and at menopause.

A handful of Saigonese wags spoke of a Beverly Hills’ plastic surgeon falling in love with her at first sight during a Hollywood party that she attended with Peter Lawford while on holiday in California.

Not a living soul knew her exact age or accurate parentage, but it was whispered during cocktail parties at villas that she had been a mistress to countless notable men.

Innumerable colonels' wives asserted that they were positive, without a doubt, one lover had been a French general killed at Dien Bien Phu, supposedly sent into battle and his ultimate death by another one of her paramours, General Henri Navarre, the commander in chief of French forces in Indochina.

Others alleged that Ngo Dinh Diem became celibate after Trung Trac Nhi left the future president of South Vietnam, who never married, weeping at the altar.

Certain people knew for a fact that her greatest conquest was a Saudi prince she enchanted at the roulette table in Monte Carlo, moments after dumping the king of Siam.

Those who bragged of being her closest, dearest friends swore on ancestors' graves that the love of her life was Adlai Stevenson. Her enemies snickered that that glory was bestowed upon Marlene Dietrich.

Since she had traveled the world extensively for decades (no one was quite sure of the exact number) and resided at various times in Paris, Washington, Hanoi, and Rome, to name but a few cities, it was rumored she had been a hero of the French Resistance during World War II, an OSS spy, a high-ranking Viet Minh official, and/or a procurer of pornographic art for the Vatican, where, it was rumored, she had the apartment next to the Pope’s residence.

Trung Trac Nhi, similar to war-time Saigon, thrived on secrets and intrigue.

Flattered and amused by her fame, the enigmatic celebrity personally collected inflated rents once a month from foreigners living in her luxury apartment complexes in the fashionable parts of Saigon. (No one was quite sure exactly how many buildings she did own or by what means they were acquired.) Then, rumor had it, she wired the money directly to her substantial Swiss bank account, personally managed by Guy de Rothschild.

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A Saigon Party:
And Other Vietnam War Short Stories

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