You’d know my boyfriend Lex Eleven if you saw him. He struts around town in a miniskirt and black lipstick, like a prostitute with a penchant for Evanescence. You’ve probably felt inclined to shout obscenities at him. No worries. It’s all water off a poof’s back. We can laugh at ourselves; just don’t call us faggots.

Something funny happened to us yesterday. People always say I look short, but only because Lex wears stilettos, fire-engine red ones giving him the posture of a decrepit deer but the height of four pairs of Big and Tall trousers.

So, yeah, yesterday Lex gave me a piggyback to the G.P, who said, “Eddie, I’m afraid you have anal cancer,” and then he said I’d probably be dead before the month was out. He just sprung it on me like that, the way Lex often sprung his penis on me during nap time.

Naturally, I convinced Lex I wasn’t in pain but I’d adopted a hip new walk I’d seen in a Chris Brown video, a walk that involved scratching my arse and occasionally veering towards walls.

Afterwards, we went for ice cream. Lex ate “just a cone” and me, given the shock of my news, opted for a three-scoop special. I’ll leave it up to you to guess which flavours I had.

When I’d finished, Lex was still eating his cone. Can you believe it?

For a moment, I forgot my arse was bleeding as I devoured my raspberry ripple. (I’m terrible at keeping secrets.)

Night fell. Out the window, I noticed the autumnal scene. The trees all withered and dying, seemingly reaching for help. We got up and left. The pain was excruciating now. I suggested we get a taxi home. Someone would be sure to notice the pool of blood seeping through my Levis if I didn’t get out of sight soon.

So we’re stood waiting for a taxi and the rain comes, which washes away most of the blood. But now we still need the taxi because of the rain. Lex’s wigs are only market standard, and if they get too wet, they disintegrate, so he’s totally in agreement with me about the taxi.

There’s this guy in the queue behind us who turns angrily to another man behind him, “Stop moaning about the queue, you ARE the fucking queue.” The recipient of this visceral attack accepted this valid point and skulked back a little.

I hear Lex chuntering away. I can make out some of the words: “new wig’ and “three whole scoops.” He then turns to me and says, “Should’ve brought those hats from the spring fair. The ones with the umbrellas on top.” Yeah, because being told you have terminal cancer at 43 while dressed in an umbrella hat wouldn’t be weird at all. To be fair to Lex, he still had no idea about my diagnosis.

Remarkably, a small hunchbacked ginger man emerged from behind the clock tower, “Did I hear someone say ‘umbrella cap?’” He waved two multicoloured umbrella caps above his head that he’d removed from a bag marked SWAG.

“No, mate. Umbrella hats,” said Lex. The ginger man walked away, twitching, but I stopped him in his tracks,

“Actually, hold on, we’ll buy them off you.”

He hopped back in our direction. This assertive ginger with a velociraptor’s face, as if a new dose of life pulsed in his old veins, “I don’t want any money; just need a favour, fella.” He directed this more towards Lex than me, as if Lex, being clad in female attire and possessing legs that a chicken would attempt to conceal, was the dominant fella in our relationship. There was no way the leprechaun could know Lex was averse to all things ginger (primarily hair, and the spice). Unperturbed, he soldiered on, “Look, fellas, I won’t take up much of your time. I’m in a spot of bother, a bit of a predicament; a pickle, if you will!” He put some emphasis on the pickle, as if all gays just love pickles.

Lex’s eyes lit up, bringing back memories of our month-long trip to the pickle farm. “A pickle, you say?”

“A figure of speech, fella, although I could score you a jar if you help me out.”

The phrase “score you a jar” certainly got my pulse racing. Lex flicked his wet wig out of his eyes, then folded his arms, his affected femininity dropping away. He stared impatiently at the stranger.

“But first, let me show you this magic trick,” said the ginger.

“Look mate, it’s pissing it down. We don’t have time for tricks,” I said.

Lex shifted his weight from one stiletto to the other and offered the occasional shrug. I don’t know why I said it, but I said the words, “Let’s have it, boy,” even though the little ginger was at least 65. I followed up with, “How can we help?” By this point, I was sodden from the rain and Lex’s wig had pretty much turned to slime.

“I know I said I didn’t want any money from you lovely fellas, but technically, I do need a bit. Some very specific coins. Could you check your change there and see if you have any London Olympic fifty-pence pieces? I will gladly exchange these hats for them.”

“We’re kinda past the point of needing hats,” I said, gesturing to my drenched pants.

The old man wrinkled his already ballsack-level wrinkled brow and pleaded, “You see, I have a mild form of OCD, which means I can only take the same taxi for each journey. And, bizarrely, my driver Mick also has OCD, meaning he only deals in commemorative or collectible coins. These umbrella hats, they’re worth a great deal.” He spun one of them ‘round on his finger like a spinning plate. Absolutely pathetic salesmanship.

Lex fingered the clasp of his coin purse and said to the hideous monster, “Look dear, all I’ve eaten today is a cone. I am quite ravenous. At home, I have a walnut I’ve prepared for dinner, and at present, you are keeping me from it. I have lost all interest in umbrella hats. If I have an Olympic fifty-pence, I will gladly give it to you.”

‘But it wouldn’t be right, fella. I shoplifted these from Selfridge’s. I wouldn’t dream of keeping them. At least take one for your friend here.” The ginger gestured to me with a parsnip like finger.

Lex withdrew not one, but two Olympic fifty-pence pieces from his purse, the basketball and hockey versions. He handed the old gremlin the coins, and received, in turn, one hat.

The ginger said, “Ahoy.” Then he pocketed the coins and walked away.

“Why were you so cold toward that oxygen thief?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Eddie. I took him for a swindler, a trickster, the Derren Brown of Drugby, but I feel we are both quite satisfied with the outcome. This umbrella is of the utmost quality.”

“Rubbish. That charming old man came from wealth. I could read it in the crevices of his nose, the dimples of his ears, the contours of his jawbone. Yes, that man was most likely someone from the Gold family.”

Just then, we caught sight of the little beast down the street near Costa Coffee. If he needed a taxi, why wasn’t he queuing or calling his preferred driver, this Mick character? But the thought had only drifted in and out of my mind without registering in my consciousness. The deformed Michael Caine bounded away, weaving through pedestrians, but he now seemed sprightly and straighter, “See that? The hunchback was a fake. I told you I didn’t trust him,” said Lex, seeming to be forget he was the one who had succumbed to the old man’s charms.

Curiosity was killing me, the whole scene so surreal, like I was the narrator in some short story that would fascinate millions. Lex and I had a duty to follow the creature. We had to know where the tale was headed.

When we set off at a jog, we must have looked odd. Lex’s stilettos clack-clacked on the cold cobbles and his umbrella hat flopped in the wind. I followed in tow, a fresh stream of blood pouring from my anus. As I looked behind me, I saw that it left a trail, the kind of trail only a zombified Hansel and Gretel would appreciate.

We gained on him pretty fast. The boisterous bum-sex we enjoyed five times a day had built our stamina. Soon, we stood within ten yards of the ginger as he turned down the alley past Bar 28 (the 28th incarnation of Bar 1, and a markedly worse version of Bar 27).

Up close, this carrot-head proved absolutely drenched from the head down. The straw-like hair on his noggin was matted and hung into his eyes. Lex, meanwhile, was protected by his umbrella hat, sheltered from the increasingly barbaric rain.

The man’s hunched back was not in evidence at all. This fifty-pence-loving cunt looked almost youthful in his newfound exuberance.

Eventually, this bulbous nosed fake pensioner veered into The Squirrel, a quaint little pub that, to my knowledge, housed an average of zero guests.

Lex and I would be unwelcome in there. So we parked ourselves on a bench and watched the bar’s door through the pouring rain.

“Let’s sneak a peek through the window,” I suggested. We discreetly approached and peered inside.

To our surprise, the pub was packed out, especially odd considering we hadn’t seen anyone enter in all the time we had waited.

“There’s the carrot-head,” said Lex.

Our man was tucked away in an alcove of some kind, speaking with another stranger. Our timing was perfect. We caught him handing over Lex’s coins.

The new stranger held them up to the light and looked over them with one eye, as if examining their credibility. He pocketed the coins and handed a small bag of white powder over to Ginge.

We watched as Ginge placed a line of the powder on his trembling hand and snorted it through his oversized nostrils.

“He’s wasting it! Some dropped on the floor. What a waste of my money,” Lex cried

The redheaded scoundrel leapt from his seat, practically glowing with energy, a huge grin plastered across his face. He looked to the floor, as if realising what he had wasted.

Then, as if he was about to miss an appointment, he darted through the crowd and over to a pile of coats, yanked out an umbrella hat, and added it to his SWAG bag. He turned his head left and right, as if checking to ensure the coast was clear, then calmly walked out of the door.

We’d scurried behind a stinking dumpster to hide. He headed back towards the taxi queue but stopped to converse with a scrawny gentleman, who had pulled his shirt over his head against the endless torrent of rain. His next target.

“What a strange creature he was,” whispered Lex.

“Yeah, but what does he do if it doesn’t rain?” I asked.