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Patmos : The Body in the Straw Basket

I didn’t stay long at the Patmian cocktail party. I was bored, but more so I didn’t like the house. It’s a beautiful home, rather old, decorated with great care, filled with precious objects and surrounded by an enchanting garden. Yet, I felt uneasy there. I returned home to find Maria in the kitchen. I told her my feelings about the house. “And for good reasons,” she replied. My interest was piqued. Maria began to tell me the story of the home, to satisfy my curiosity.

Shortly after World War II, at a time when the island of Patmos was largely unknown to foreigners, an American couple bought the home. One day they received a guest, a man.

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What happened next remains unclear. Did the wife take the man as a lover? In any event, the husband shot the man. But what to do with the body? Call the garbage man of course. At the time, the trash of the village was collected by a man and his donkey, who pulled a cart with two large straw baskets into which the refuse was dumped. The American called the donkey driver and gave him a large sum of money. Once the body of the murdered man was hidden in one of the straw baskets the driver whipped the donkey and they set off on their way. Following the instructions of the American, the man threw the body into the sea from the top of a cliff. As nobody knew the victim was in Patmos, the search for the missing man never reached the shores of the island. Shortly thereafter, the couple sold the home and left the island, never to return or be seen again.

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Years later, the house was sold to the present owner, a well known collector and man of great taste. Nothing particularly shocking has occurred regarding the ghost of the dead man who haunts the grounds. There is, however, and epilogue.

Two years ago, while digging on the beach of a small island facing Patmos, a skeleton was discovered. The age and sex of the bones corresponded with those of the missing man. It seems the body was not thrown carelessly into the sea, but rather the garbage man gave the victim a proper, Christian burial.


by  Prince Michael of Greece

2 comments on “Patmos : The Body in the Straw Basket


  1. Leonardo Lacerda

    Beautiful story, Prince Michael. All my respect to the garbage man of Patmos and his donkey, both incogniti. A humane burial, more than just a Christian burial, perhaps A culture that had Antigone fight for the right of burying her brother Polynices perpetuates a sense of justice and humanity for whatever later religious shape or form the respect for the dead takes. Quite moving, and thanks for sharing. Nice read at 5am after a sleepless night, jetlagged in New York 🙂 The Greek respect for the dead is a nice contrast to lack of respect for the living, in NY. One arrives at the hotel, and before any sign of politeness, not even a little effort to call the client by his or her name, the receptionist says ” your credit card and a piece of identity”. Implying: All I care is your money and the certainty I will get it… Something to think about…

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