He comes in most days after school. And in the summer, one or two days a week. I think his mom sets a limit. He's a quiet boy and would follow her rules.
Sometimes he comes alone, but often he brings friends and shows them where the comics are. And the free books. And the gum. They stick their hands in the gum bowl and shyly back away, around the corner, toward the door. He stops them and tells them they have to say, "Thank you." It's our rule.
The last day of school he brought in a rolled up piece of poster board that he got to bring home. I found it later, forgotten near the comics. A half empty bag of skittles was stuck inside. I was tempted to eat the skittles, but saved the poster board for him, skittles intact.
He's never bought anything in the year that I've known him, but he's never brought trouble either. I sometimes find wrapping papers from gum in odd places, but I think that's not him. It seems unlikely that a boy who tries to straighten the comics before he leaves would hide his wrappers. I think his go in his pockets.
A few days ago, he came in holding a five dollar bill.
"Was it your birthday?" I asked.
It was. He had turned ten. An uncle gave him the money.
"I'm buying books today, " he told me.
He brought a few books up and asked how much they were. I showed him how to find prices and he went back to looking. He settled on two that added up to four dollars.
"Four dollars," I said, paying his tax so he could get a dollar back.
He handed back the dollar. "It's a tip," he said.
I told him that was very nice, but he didn't need to tip me.
"It's a tip," he said again, pausing, and then adding, "for having a good bookstore."
Another successful day.