The third shoe, and other adjustments

by BRK

 Paul has to face the one change he was least prepared for since he woke up with three legs: buying footwear.

Added: Apr 2022 1,936 words 1,060 views 5.0 stars (3 votes) This story was commissioned via Patreon Vignette Party.

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The saleswoman was looking exasperated, her customer-service smile eroding like a seawall made of sugar. “Sir,” she said doggedly, “you have to understand. I can’t sell you a pair and a half of shoes.”

“But I only need three,” Paul persisted quietly. He looked down at his three feet, and the clerk, a slim, matronly woman with short steel-gray hair who pulled off the store’s uniform of burgundy vest and slacks with a tan shirt rather better than most of her colleagues, followed his gaze reluctantly. The outer two feet were presently clad in the black size-12 extra-wide Treximo Ultra running shoes he’d settled on: stylish yet low-key, and very comfortable. But the middle one—more or less another right—sported only a clean, thick sweat sock, its glaring, fresh-from-the-bag whiteness a stark contrast to the dark ox-blood industrial carpeting below and the black shoes nuzzling it to either side. As they were both looking at it, he flexed his sock-covered toes up and down at her a couple of times, like the foot was waving hello.

The clerk’s unamused gaze flicked back up to him, her demeanor the put-upon air of someone whose job involved dealing with dozens of crazy and obstreperous customers every week, and he was just one of them. “Sir,” she said, eyebrow raised, “while I agree your… ‘extra limb’ is impressively achieved, it doesn’t change the fact that shoes are, in fact, sold in pairs.”

Paul stared back at her. She was making it sound like he was some kind of bozo who’d gone to all the trouble of faking up a middle leg, for the sole purpose of scamming shoe stores. He briefly considered whipping the sock off and showing her just how real his middle foot actually was, but… he was starting to realize that might be his worst possible choice.

Today was the first time he’d left the house in the week since everything changed. One week before he’d woken up from a sweaty, nightmare-filled eighteen-hour sleep to discover the potion he’d dreamt up had actually worked and the third leg he’d desperately yearned for since puberty, a slim but strong mate for the long, slightly hairy runner’s legs he already had, was really and truly his to enjoy at last! It had taken him that long to accept that this was how he was now, permanently and for the rest of his life, a real-live three-legged boy, and that he needed to start trying to live his life as it was going to be from now on.

So far, the day’s experimental sojourn into the public space where actual people mixed and milled had taught him as much about human mentality as it did about being who he was now. All the looks and whispering, and the comments of the brave few who’d approached him, seemed to reflect the same, almost universal twofold reaction: first, that his extra leg must be some kind of fake, either plastic or robotic; and second, that anyone who’d fitted himself with a literal “third leg” and chosen to parade himself around Red Pines Mall in a set of homemade multi-legged jeans was obviously a special kind of attention-seeking pervert from whom a prudent person would stay well away.

The power of denial, he’d discovered, made any rationalization or wild explanation easier than the truth. Accepting the leg as real was, it seemed, as impossible for the folks he met as the sun turning green or influencer humility. Most likely, Paul thought now, it was only the clerk’s assumption that his middle leg was bogus that was keeping her patiently engaged with him and not completely blue-screening, slackjawed at his outrageous anatomical anomaly, or backing away gibbering while making the sign of the cross at him with a pair of bony, purple-nailed fingers.

He glanced down again. The unshod middle foot clearly had six toes instead of the usual five, even through the nubbly sweatsock. Probably just as well she hadn’t noticed that, either, he mused dryly. She for sure hadn’t noticed the bonus digit on his other two feet while he’d been trying on the four models she’d brought over. Paul had definitely noticed them, that morning that he’d woken up to the ecstatic vision of having three beautiful legs, like the icing on the sexycake. He’d kept noticing them, too, repeatedly and tirelessly, over the heady week since then. He’d always been kind of turned on by his own toes, especially the way his second toe on both feet looked just a scoche longer than normal; for his feet to be packed with six strong, slightly hairy toes now instead of five was almost as hot as having the three legs and three feet he’d always secretly craved.

He sighed, frustrated by the impasse with the saleswoman. As much as he might wish he could just stay barefoot all the time and keep showing off his amazing, boner-inducing feet wherever he went, he really did need new shoes if he was going to live his usual life post-transformation—work in-office once a week; gym three times a week; morning runs; et cetera. His usual broken-down old sneaks were definitely not long for this world, and the dilapidated backup pair he’d raided for a third shoe so he could come into town was still more the worse for wear, to the point of having actual holes. Even his flip-flops weren’t quite wide enough now, not that you could hit the gym or go for a jog in flip-flops anyway. He’d tried the internet and struck out—they sold shoes in pairs, too—hence, the decision to make his first self-exposure to the public an expedition to the cheesy-but-bustling local galleria.

The tribulations of the Three-Legged-Boy, he thought, letting his lips curve in a secret smile. Shoes, who’d have thought they would be his nemesis? At least with socks you could just pull on a third one. No fuss, no muss, just a bit more laundry to do on Sundays. Even the jeans had been laborious but stress-free: he knew his way around a sewing machine thanks to a high-school brush with theater (more particularly, with Bobby Keene, the heart and soul of drama club and his first big crush). Though it had taken him most of an afternoon, the result was a unique set of three-legged dungarees that not only felt good but actually looked pretty fine in the mirror—even from the back, flattering his decently round, now-triple-cheeked butt pretty damn nicely. As for underwear…? Well, he hadn’t bothered this time, but at least his doubled junk—one unit left, another right—hadn’t offered too many complaints so far about spending the afternoon rubbing against the interior surface of the denim. He might regret his choice to go commando if he ran into any sexy guys, especially ones who were as into three-legged dudes as he was, and he started to have a physical reaction. Judging from his encounters so far that seemed unlikely to happen.

“Fine,” he told the saleswoman, giving up. “A second set of these, please.” A dire thought occurred to him, and he narrowed his eyes at her. “You do have another pair in this size and style, right?” he asked suspiciously. That really would be a pain, he thought, if he’d gone through all the hassle of finding the exact shoes he wanted only to end up having to walk around with two black shoes and one green or something like that.

The clerk’s face clearly expressed low-key bafflement at his keeping to his “three-legged guy having to buy extra shoes” schtick this long, but, pro that she was, she smiled gamely. Maybe she figured she was being pranked for TikTok or something, Paul thought, and would come off better is she was playing along. “Let me check, sir,” she said sweetly. “One moment.”

He watched as she then turned and threaded her way through the aisles toward the back room, no doubt mentally composing the crazy-customer story she’d be sharing with her coworkers, girlfriends, and probably the internet in general the moment he left the store.

Paul was now mainly amused by the whole thing, and was ready to wait with equanimity. After sitting quietly for a moment in the midst of the busy store for several minutes, his toes wiggling randomly—he was an incorrigible fidget whenever he was bored or unoccupied, and toe-wiggling was his usual outlet—he heard a pleasant baritone voice over his shoulder. “Excuse me, sir,” said the voice, “are you being—?”

Paul looked up in time to see the tall, good-looking salesman looming over him catch sight of his third foot and freeze. Here it comes, Paul thought sardonically. He’s going to either explain it away to himself, or freak. Too bad if he did either, because the guy was handsome in a friendly, put-you-at-your-ease sort of way, with loose, inky-black curls, bright golden-brown eyes, sweet, parted lips, and a very fit body that even his shapeless store uniform couldn’t completely hide. He seemed a little familiar, too. Paul thought it might be because he’d recently started coming to Paul’s usual gym, and it was pleasant to imagine them working out together—spotting each other on bench presses, trading off doing curls, running side by side on the treadmills with his two legs pumping alongside Paul’s three, that kind of thing.

The inscribed oblong nametag over his left pec read “Jeremy”, with “Associate” underneath. The name suited him, Paul thought. Meanwhile it was dawning on him that Jeremy was not only accepting what he saw—he seemed to like it. A lot.

“There is someone helping me, yes,” Paul answered him, a little regretfully, though he hoped a bit of normal customer conversation would at least reboot his stalled interlocutor. “Janice—” (He thought that was what her tag had said, anyway.) “—went to find a second pair of these.” He wiggled his outer feet a little to show the salesman what he meant.

Jeremy blinked, staring a second longer, then seemed to force himself back into interactive mode. “That’s—” he started to say as he Paul’s gaze. Then he smiled abruptly, a genuine, heart-melting smile, and Paul’s pulse quickened significantly. “You have to get two pairs, I get it,” Jeremy said. “Must be a pain.”

“Oh, I dunno,” Paul said noncommittally, offering Jeremy a slight smile, as if to say there were good sides to being stuck here in the shoe store a bit longer. Jeremy’s own smile upped in wattage in response, and Paul’s body reacted all over. The skin between his shoulder-blades itched, a sure sign he was getting seriously turned on.

“It’s my first time having to get an extra shoe, anyway,” he said, “so—”

Jeremy’s sharp gaze flicked to Paul’s exposed middle foot and back. “Wait, you mean—you didn’t have three? Before?”

Paul shook his head, still smiling softly.

Jeremy’s eyes seemed to blaze. “How?” he demanded.

Time to be brazen. “Buy me dinner,” he said quietly, “and I’ll tell you.”

Jeremy grinned, a hungry look in his eyes that had nothing to do with food. Paul grinned back, feeling warm under his clothes. In his head he started a tentative shopping list of everything he’d need for another batch of his potion. The mental picture of the two of them running together had just gotten much more interesting.

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