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HOME >> Product 0606 >> American Whoreson>>

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American Whoreson

Robert Cherny

The bastard son of a whore working in a small town dominated by cotton mills, Tobias is tossed out on his own at the age of twelve when his mother is shot by rival clients who also die in the exchange. Even though he witnesses her death, he is too occupied with his own survival to spend much time grieving. The death of one of the men responsible for his mother’s death creates a job opening for Tobias at the mill, and Tobias jumps into the opportunity to secure his future, at least for now.


Two years later, Tobias escapes the mill as it burns down. He rides a short train of boxcars full of finished fabric away from the burning mill to safety. A locomotive collects the boxcars and deposits them in a railyard near the port of Norfolk. He escapes the yard and takes refuge in an abandoned boxcar. While there, he comforts a pregnant negro girl about to give birth and helps inter her body when she dies in childbirth.

Following the railroad tracks with only the clothes on his back and a pocketknife, he finds a mill much like the one he fled as it burned, where a young girl was killed while working one of the machines. He offers to clean the machine, and thus his reputation as a skilled mechanic is born. He becomes an asset to the mill and its management, although they are reluctant to acknowledge his contributions. After two years at this mill and an accident at a neighboring foundry, he moves again.

This mill is on the verge of failure. He has been sent here by a fabric broker friend he met as a child working in the tavern where his mother worked as a whore. Tobias brings the mill back from the brink of death to healthy profitability but makes several enemies. The mill owner asks Tobias to escort his daughter to Boston, where she will attend school. The journey will include travel by rail to Norfolk and then by steamship to Boston. Tobias forms a polite friendship with the young lady. He leaves her in the care of the house mother at school and returns to the mill town, where he finds two of his best workers hanging from a tree.

The fabric broker friend, anticipating that something like this might happen, had instructed Tobias to find a hotel in a nearby city, send him a telegraph, and wait for instructions. The instructions included orders from a major in the Army Quartermaster Corps to inspect fabric mills currently providing fabric and clothes for the Army. After six months of inspecting fabric mills from Charleston, SC, to Buffalo, NY, he is ordered to report to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

From Fort Leavenworth, he is transferred as a civilian contractor assigned to the Quartermaster Corps to Fort Meade, near Sturgis, South Dakota. While there, he witnesses what happens to people who stand in the way of America’s Manifest Destiny.





47920 Words





Cover Art:

Robert Cherny



Robert Cherny

ISBN Number:


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PDF; Palm (PDB); Nook, Iphone, Ipad, Android (EPUB); Older Kindle (MOBI); Newer Kindle (AZW3);




TOBIAS KICKED THE wet, muddy snow off his shoes, hung his jacket on a peg, and threw a log into the tavern’s fireplace. The ancient ‘colonial style’ structure had only survived the Civil War because some northern colonel, who owed his rank more to his father’s money than to any military skill, took it over for his ‘field headquarters’ and thus saved it from the rampages of his undisciplined and poorly led soldiers.

“Evening, Tobias.”

“Evening, Belinda. I thought you were off tonight.”

“I was. Custer Mills won a huge contract to make fabric for a dressmaker in New York. They’re talking about putting on a second shift. Tecumseh Mills put on a second shift last Monday. Lots of people partying, and it’s Friday. I got called in to work the bar.”

Tobias nodded. “Big payday and a big contract. It’ll be a busy night.”

The strong scent of burning southern slash pine filled the room, mingling with the accumulated stench of a century of spilled beer and other fluids that had landed on the rough wooden floor. Calling what Tobias threw into the fire a log would be charitable. It was mostly bark attached to a small wood slab left after the nearby sawmill debarked a log. Leavings from the sawmill fueled many of the fireplaces in this mill town. Since most of the immediate landscape had been deforested and struggled to grow back, finding firewood was an ongoing battle. Stealing scraps from construction sites became an art form. The fabric mill where Tobias worked and the tavern where he lived closed on Sundays, so Sunday became his day for scavenging. Firewood was a top priority all year round.

Assured that the log, such as it was, had started to burn, Tobias sat on his hard wooden stool in the corner next to the fireplace. He picked up a newspaper the tavern owner had left for that purpose and began to read aloud. Tobias had been reading newspapers aloud to the tavern’s patrons since he was six. His mother had taught him to read at an age when most of the children his age in this small town were learning to sound out letters if they went to school at all. Now a tall, robust, muscular, handsome twelve-year-old, he was the spitting image of his mother, who worked as a whore upstairs in the tavern.

Tobias’s mother was beautifully statuesque. She towered over most of the men who were her customers. Arguments over who got to have her first and who had to wait were common and often settled by who was willing to pay the most. The tavern owner gladly raked in the extra money.

The fact that Tobias’ mother was the most popular of the women that worked in this whorehouse was one of the reasons the tavern owner let Tobias share his mother’s bed when she was not working. The tavern owner discovered that having Tobias read aloud kept the patrons busy buying drinks while waiting for the women upstairs.

Tobias became a permanent fixture in the corner of the tavern’s main room. He would start the evening reading the newspaper, but as the patrons became drunker, some of the news articles would anger them. Tobias switched to dime novels featuring adventures from the wild west to keep things peaceful. Some of the patrons were Civil War veterans, and others were veterans of the Indian Wars. A few had served with Sherman. Those who had served with Lee were smart enough to shut their mouths. More than one had ridden with Custer. Even the soldiers who had opposed Custer in the Civil War, which they referred to as ‘The War of Northern Aggression’, idolized Custer for his aggressiveness against the savages obstructing the progress of America’s ‘Manifest Destiny’.

The dime novel wild west adventures kept the men buying drinks long after they otherwise would have gone home, which thrilled the tavern owner. Constantly monitoring the mood of the bar’s patrons, Tobias became adept at predicting and diffusing conflicts before they erupted into violence. Fights that could have ended with injuries generally ended quietly when Tobias calmly and forcefully intervened. When a peaceful resolution was impossible, Tobias had no problem using his fists or the rigid toe of his boot. Dealing with drunks was a task that occasionally took more brute force than diplomatic skill, and Tobias had learned how to use both. The bar owner trusted Tobias enough that he could order free drinks if that was what it took to break up a fight.

As the only tavern in town, the clientele was manifestly diverse. Any deviate that thought Tobias might be available for some personal attention quickly learned that Tobias was not only not available but that he was perfectly capable of fending off such advances. When Tobias finished enforcing his will on the miscreant who did not accept a verbal rebuff, the man would probably have pain when pissing for the rest of his life. He would surely never father any more children. Most never returned to the tavern. The few that did found others who drank at the town’s only pub who were more amenable to their advances and conducted their assignations in secret.

Tonight became an exception. Two men, supervisors at competing fabric mills, arrived within minutes of the day shift shutting down for the evening. Most, but not all, of the mills were running two shifts, and the bar would be open almost until daybreak to service both shifts. Each man demanded to be taken upstairs to see Tobias’ mother immediately. The chief of police, also a frequent customer of his mother’s, arrived as the argument started. The police chief stood aside to his credit while the two burly men shouted at each other. Tobias’ mother came down the stairs to try and settle the conflict. She stepped between the shouting men.

The men drew their pistols within a second of each other and fired, apparently with the intent to kill their rival. Both shots hit Tobias’ mother, and she fell to the ground. Each man fired a second shot and hit the other. By this point, the police chief had drawn his weapon and killed the rival suitors with two bullets each.

In less than a minute, a fight between two married men, each with several children, legitimate and illegitimate, over a whore ended with three bodies dead on the floor. The whore’s son stood paralyzed in the corner.

The police chief pointed to six men standing with drinks in their hands. “Take the bodies to the morgue.”

The bodies were hauled away.

The police chief pointed to two other men. “Clean up the blood.”

The police chief approached Tobias. “She’s dead, son. Ain’t nothing you can do for her. She loved you better’n most women I know could love anybody. She was a good woman. It sucks, but you’re on your own. Ain’t nobody gonna take in a twelve-year-old son of a whore. It ain’t right, and it ain’t fair, but that’s how it is.”

Tobias sat on his little stool in the corner and continued reading where he had left off. Within an hour, the tavern was back to normal. The tavern owner approached. “Y’ know you been like a son t’ me, but I can’t let you keep her bed. I can’t afford not to make money on it. Y’ can stay the night, but y’ got to go in the morning. I got an old suitcase I can let you have.”

Tobias nodded. “Yes, sir.”

Tobias could not sleep. He packed the suitcase with everything he wanted to take. He hauled the suitcase and a gunny sack full of clothes down the stairs well before dawn. The tavern owner’s wife, who was also the Madam and the town’s only midwife, met him at the bottom of the stairs.

“Too bad about your mother. She was good people. We’ll miss her.”

“Thank you.”

“Where are y’ goin’?”

“To work,” Tobias replied. “I need the money.”

“No, I mean after that.”


“What should I do with your mother’s clothes?”

“Give them to whoever wants ’em. Ain’t no good to me.”

“Only one thing gonna keep you alive. Yer smart. Real smart. Think wit’ yer head, not wit’ yer heart, and never wit’ yer dick.”

Tobias smiled. “I’ll remember that.”

“I’m gonna miss you. You was the best assistant a midwife could ask for.”

“Talk to Belinda. She’s smarter than me and will be a good helper.”

The woman hugged him, handed him a cloth bag with bread and cheese, and sent him on his way.




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