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Evidence compiled from other searches seems to corroborate the site.
Just like Nasdijj, Tina Giovanni also hosts a blog — www.autism911.blogspot.com. (It also was taken offline in the past week but has returned minus its archives.) A post from Giovanni in July 2005 shows a picture of Nasdijj’s daughter, Kree, and Kree’s husband, Steve, both of whom, Giovanni says, are teachers in La Paz, Bolivia. A follow-up Internet search reveals the December 13, 2004, meeting minutes of the American Educational Association of La Paz, announcing the hiring of Kree Barrus and Steve Poole as teachers at the American Cooperative School in La Paz. (A photograph of Steve Poole on the American Cooperative School’s Web site confirms that he is the same Steve pictured in Giovanni’s blog.) As for Giovanni, a records search reveals her legal name to be Tina Giovanni Barrus, with addresses in and around Taos, New Mexico. This obviously begs the question — who exactly is Timothy Patrick Barrus?
Yet another Google search, this time for Tim Barrus, brings up the heading “Sadomasochistic Literature” and the following: “Some of the best pornographic fiction to come out of the leatherman tradition is by Tim Barrus whose Mineshaft (1984) describes the sexual exploits of the infamous New York S/M palace of the same name.” The site is GLBTQ: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and queer culture. The section in which Barrus’ name appears is titled “Gay Male Writers Since the 70’s.”
Could the heart-wrenching Navajo memoirist actually have been the gay leather novelist in a previous life?
The streets of downtown Lansing, Michigan, are crowded on a Friday night, but not with people — with squirrels. They congregate in the middle of Washington Street, staring with incredulity as a lone car approaches. Despite an impending collision, they don’t bother to move out of the way, apparently shocked to see anyone out at this time of night. The oncoming car doesn’t slow down and crushes one of them into the red brick street. No one is around to notice. It wasn’t always like this.
In the 1950s and ’60s, when Tim Barrus was growing up here, Lansing was a prosperous middle-class community. Washington Street wasn’t a site of squirrel manslaughter, but the heart of a thriving theater district. Oldsmobile, Fisher Auto Parts and General Motors all had factories nearby.
No cowboy, Maynard Barrus worked as a shift foreman at the Lansing Board of Water and Light. In 1948 he married Barrus’ mother, Jean Anne Steginga, a local Lansing girl of Scandinavian descent. Two years later, Timothy Patrick was born.
Tim Barrus was raised with his younger sister, Suzanne, in a modest three-bedroom home off of Aurelius Road close to the Michigan State University campus. His mother was in fact around throughout his childhood and is still alive today. He has no younger brother.
Barrus attended Eastern High School in Lansing, where he was far from a slayer of suburban values. He was a member of the student council, the forensics team, the forum club as well as a homeroom officer. He was also an actor, playing several minor roles in the 1968 class production of Molière’s The Physician in Spite of Himself.
“He was a good, good actor — very passionate,” says one former castmate of Barrus’ who wishes not to be named. “He was able to completely absorb himself into the mind of a character in a way that most people are never able to.”
“He was a thinker — very pensive,” the castmate continues. “But he was a warm person, very friendly.”
Beneath his generally pleasant veneer, however, a simmering temper would occasionally boil over.
“You didn’t know what you were going to say to the guy to make him angry,” recalls Rosemary Taylor, who was also in the cast alongside Barrus, “so you were extremely careful with him because you wanted to stay in his orbit. He was one of those guys that was a little ahead of his time.”
Barrus graduated from high school in 1969 and a year later married Jan Abbott, a local girl from neighboring Okemos. According to a source close to the family, the couple took in foster children to make ends meet. In 1971 Barrus and his wife moved to Largo, Florida, where his sister, Suzanne, lived with her husband, Steve Cheetham. Barrus attended community college while Abbott worked at Winn-Dixie to support him, according to Cheetham. Although Barrus wasn’t publishing his work at the time, he wrote constantly. “He wrote most of his life in one way or another,” says Cheetham by phone from Lansing. “He’s a storyteller. You never knew if he was telling you something true, or part of his imagination or what.” In 1973 the couple moved again before finally winding up back in Lansing. Cheetham never saw Barrus again.
In 1974, Barrus’ only daughter, Kree, was born and, according to sources, the couple also adopted a mildly autistic boy around this time. The boy could have inspired Tommy Nothing Fancy, although several discrepancies exist between his story and Tommy’s.
Nasdijj claims that he adopted Tommy as an infant and that he died at age 6. A Kree Barrus resumé posted online, however, indicates that as a girl she helped care for a mildly autistic 7-year-old. Likewise, an article written by Barrus in 1996 asserts that he adopted his son at age 4 and that he was alive and well as of the ’90s, having survived adolescence and grown “almost as big as I am.”