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Virginia author envisions second civil war

Kevin O’Farrell is a writer who lives in a suburb of Richmond. He’s also a runner who has come to know his subdivision well, and as this country has grown increasingly into camps of red and blue, O’Farrell started thinking about civil war.

“I’m familiar with this neighborhood, and that’s what I found fascinating. What would happen here,” he explains.

Second Civil War

So he began to tell the story of a guy named Dick who’s living in a community like his in a time like ours. The tale is actually told through a journal. O’Farrell started writing in 2017 – before anyone had heard of COVID. He wrote about an epidemic sweeping across the country.

“I just assumed that our leadership is incompetent and so bad stuff was going to happen eventually,” he says.

O'Farrell foresaw supply chain disruptions, and in his book, Second Civil War, he tells how people who love guns form a group called the Two Club – as in second amendment. They patrol on motorcycles, scooters and lawn mowers, taking control of homeowners’ associations.

O’Farrell says he knows about HOA’s. There used to be one in his neighborhood.

“But it has since died off simply because nobody can get along," he recalls. "There are always a few people who need to make sure that everybody does things the way they want them done.”

And in his vision of the next civil war, these guys are deputized by ICE to go after immigrants and enforce decrees. Early one morning they visit Dick, his wife M and their dog Rocket.

“Four a.m. Rocket is over by the door, growling. M tells him to get back in his bed, and then we hear the doorbell ring. I get a Nestcam notification that there’s someone at the front door. It’s still dark. WTF. M gets downstairs before me. Two Club officers are going door to door. All they say is that there’s a public safety issue and that we have to stay inside until further notice. M asks, ‘On whose authority?’ They say, ‘The President of the United States.’ I fix a pot of coffee and turn on the TV. No way we’re going back to sleep now. Schools are closed, businesses closed, local government and federal offices closed. Only essential vehicles allowed on the road. Nothing to do but watch TV – listen to experts speculate.”

It turns out Washington has declared a state of emergency nationwide – prompting a lockdown to assure the safety of all Americans with troops deployed to airports, bus stations, federal buildings. Immigrants are taken from their homes. So, too, is one of Dick’s neighbors – a native American called Joe Baker.

Joe Baker’s rooster woke me up. His second. Coyotes got the first one. Maybe a fox. Joe is First People, a long silver braid down his back. I don’t really know him. He keeps to himself, but I run by his house every day, and so you notice stuff. He plants a single row of corn along the street every year. I have a notion that it’s a religious thing. If you happen to speak with him, and the wind is not blowing, you might pick up the smoky tang of mescal. The train tracks run beside the next street over, with a few one-story warehouses on the other side of that. No trees to obscure the wide expanse of the horizon. You get a good view of the sunsets there or see storms coming from far away. Neighbors like to ride their bikes there, walk their dogs, say hi to Joe when they pass. Most everyone knows of Joe. He has two teenaged daughters – still walks them to the bus stop every morning, meets them every afternoon. I see them laughing as they’re walking back. Anyway, Joe Baker’s rooster woke me up. The first one was louder.

O’Farrell has illustrated the book with abstract photos and language that evokes central Virginia in a darker time.

“I think of myself kind of like a painter when I’m writing. I think of words and phrases as brush strokes,” he explains.

The author is convinced there will, in fact, be a civil war in this country.

“There are maybe 340-million people in the United States, and we have over 400 million guns, and if you buy a gun you don’t want to look at it on the wall. You want to shoot it.”

His only hope is that the conflict will be short.

“What I’m hoping for is that it’s a limited event, and people are so horrified that they pull back.”

The book is Second Civil War by Richmond-area author and artist Kevin O’Farrell. You can find the book here: second civil war (a lesser god): too, dick: 9781700313836: Amazon.com: Books

And learn more about the author and artist here:


Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief