Rigabold the pernicketness was cruising along the Eyre highway at just under the legal speed limit, the car was driving itself and he was relaxing. As with most of the area he’d covered across the Nullarbor Plain there was very little to see, yet at the same time there was heaps to see. Every tree was different, trees became a bit more prominent at either end of the ‘plain’. Every shrub was different, every bird was different and every rock was different, yet somehow they were still all the same.
The sameness but different thing was hard for even Rigabold to explain, and he’d have hated trying to explain it to a human, especially one who hadn’t witnessed what he was seeing.
The distance between Mundrabilla and Eucla was probably one of the shortest distances between stops on the Eyre Highway but it suddenly turned into one of the most entertaining legs of the journey.
“What’s that?” Rigabold asked the in dash GPS.
He’d caught a glimpse of a tree as they drove past, it wasn’t your average tree and definitely not like any tree he’d seen in his travels before that point.
The GPS knew to what Rigabold was referring and responded with an answer on the screen. He could have used the speech method of communication for his GPS but he chose not to because for some reason the car only came with French speaking navigation, an oversight he couldn’t work out. Although he could understand and speak French he chose not to preferring to read the information for himself.
The GPS told him that he’s just passed a tree with underwear hanging from it. Further explanation told him that there was several trees along the seventy kilometre stretch of highway where travellers stopped and hung their underwear from a branch on the tree. The origins of such trees was widely reported, so widely that nearly every country in the world claimed to have the first one but Rigabold didn’t care about that it was the first one he’d seen and it made him laugh.
According to his GPS there was also a tree, which he hadn’t seen, further back along the road he’d just travelled that had pots and pans hanging from it, however that just didn’t seem as interesting as the underwear trees.
The GPS told him there was another tree approaching, Rigabold decided he was going to stop and have a closer look since time as not a concern to him.
Before he pulled up at the tree Rigabold had seen the car parked on the side of the road, it was facing him and no doubt the occupants of the car had the same idea as him.
“Interesting tourist attraction isn’t it?” the man who appeared to be the only occupant of the car that was stopped near Rigabold’s Dodge said to him as Rigabold approached him.
The man was tall, several centimetres taller than Rigabold, and stocky, so stocky that if he had something more than just his t-shirt on his upper body he’d have looked obese and chunky, but the t-shirt showed bulging muscles at both his biceps and his chest. The man also had a shaved head that had a slightly polished gleam to it in the dying sunlight of the day, and several of his tattoos could be seen poking out from under the sleeves and above the neckline of his shirt. There was also a snake tattoo that wrapped around his right leg which Rigabold didn’t look at close enough to find out where its head or tail ended up.
“I guess interesting is a word for it.” Rigabold said not really focusing on the man but the tree instead.
Some of the larger pairs of underwear were stretched widely between several branches, some even had messages written on then, presumably scribed by the previous owners of the said under garments. Rigabold did a quick count of what he could see hanging in the breeze but he gave up when he got to a hundred figuring that the final count, once that high, wasn’t important.
“Have you seen these trees before?” The man asked.
“Nope, first time.” Rigabold replied.
“It’s a wonderful idea. God knows who thought of it but such a wonderful thing on the long drive across the desert.”
Rigabold didn’t reply to the man. Even with his advanced abilities to read human beings and understand what they were thinking, which had come from years of Tumcuddulan research, Rigabold was having trouble getting a read on the man before him. Despite his look being a little like a motorcycle gang member who hadn’t quite gone full retard but was getting close to it, Rigabold didn’t get an evil or dangerous vibe from him, but it was a vibe he couldn’t explain fully.
After few minutes Rigabold decided he had seen enough of the underwear tree and that it was time to continue on to his next stop at Eucla where word had it he’d have a really good chance of getting another few Chiko Rolls.
“Oh well that’s enough for me. Happy travels.” Rigabold said to the man, then turned and started to walk away but was stopped in his tracks by the man’s reply.
“Aren’t you going to exchange?” The man said casually as if what he was asking was the most normal thing in the world.
“Excuse me?” Rigabold said as he turned around and looked at the man.
“You’re not going to exchange your own for a new pair?”.
“No.” Rigabold was a little bit confused but the strange vibe he’d been getting was starting to explain itself. “Why would I?”
“That’s what there here for.” The big stocky tattooed guy sounded dead serious. “You bring you own dirty underwear here, hang it out to be washed and aired, and change them for a new pair.”
Rigabold knew it was pointless pointing out that the rainfall in the area they were standing was less than ten centimetres per year, just like pointing out how silly the idea of underwear swapping was, so he said nothing about that, instead choosing to tell the man that he didn’t need new underwear and it was time for him to keep moving.
While Rigabold wondered if the man was even serious about what he suggested that doubt was removed when he stole one last glance in the direction of the tree as he took off and continued east. The reason the doubt was removed was because the man was surely doing as he suggested, he was naked from the waist down and reaching for a pair of woman’s red lace knickers that hung from a single branch.
Rigabold shook his head and drove on.