PORTLAND, Ore. (USA Today) -- John McAfee slides out suddenly from behind a glass door.
It's a sun-splashed morning in the eclectic neighborhood where he now lives, and the former software mogul-turned-international fugitive needs a caffeine fix. Now.
"I have some stories and things to tell you, sir," he says, rapping his right hand against a coffee table while nervously shifting his feet. "Do you have time for the truth?"
In his first extensive interview since he returned to U.S. soil in December, an animated McAfee agreed to meet a USA TODAY reporter at a nondescript apartment building in southeast Portland last week. For four hours, he explained his innocence, engaged in self-deprecation and eviscerated the news media for what he called exploitation.
"People ask me how did it feel to kill a man, and I can honestly tell them I wouldn't know because I never have," he says, gazing through piercing green eyes. McAfee is wearing a black hoodie, jeans and flip flops.
The fantastical tale of McAfee created tabloid-like headlines worldwide and sparked a cottage industry of "Where's Waldo?" sightings after he was named as a "person of interest" in the unsolved murder last year of Gregory Viant Faull, a neighbor of his in Belize.
McAfee insists the political and economic climate of Belize - he calls the country a "third-rate banana republic" - was rife for the rollicking escapade that ensued when he went on the lam.
"It is the world's most physically beautiful country in the world," McAfee says. "But it has an extremely high murder rate, and lots of rich Americans are there."
When McAfee refused to pay Belize officials a $2 million bribe months earlier, he claims, it didn't shock him he was fingered for Faull's death - even though McAfee says he was nowhere near the victim the night of the killing. For the first time, he points to a neighbor, another expatriate, as a suspect. He claims that man left Belize shortly after Faull's slaying - only to return to the island. Belize police say they don't know to whom McAfee is referring.
McAfee, who founded the anti-virus software company that bears his name in Santa Clara, Calif., went into hiding when Belize police wanted to question him as a "person of interest" in the shooting death of Faull, a 52-year-old American expatriate.
McAfee acknowledges that he and Faull argued over McAfee's dogs, several of which had been mysteriously poisoned. Faull was later found with gunshot wound to the head. McAfee has denied any involvement.
What ensued in the days after the killing was a merry chase captured on Twitter, Facebook and his personal web site - with McAfee often as narrator. McAfee fled to Guatemala, where he ended up on a stretcher in a detention center and was rushed to a hospital in early December. It was all a ruse, he admits, to buy time for a judge to hear his case and stay his deportation to Belize.
The 67-year-old McAfee was released by Guatemalan authorities in December and flown to Miami. He ended up in Portland because his friend, cartoonist Chad Essley, lives there, it's quiet and close to Canada, where his key business partners are based. Since his arrival, he's been conspicuously silent.
Add to that McAfee's fascination with guns, fondness for disguises and outlandish statements - "I am not a mad man," he says. "I am eccentric, gracious, attentive, kind, humorous. We humans are funny creatures" - and you have the makings for a made-for-reality-TV movie.
Make that several movies.
Film rights to McAfee's life story were awarded in December to Impact Future Media, a Montreal-based TV production company under the title, Running in the Background. Another movie could be in the works after Warner Bros. picked up the rights to a recent Wired magazine profile about him.
An official biography called No Domain, to be penned by "Boston George" Jung, the imprisoned cocaine smuggler portrayed by Johnny Depp in the movie Blow, is also in the works.
Even McAfee plans to write a book, based on tribulations chronicled on his personal blog, The Hinterland. "The winners in a battle write the story, always," he says. "You can't make up this s---. Life is crazy."
"I've not talked to the press because it is generally more interested in sensationalism than truth," says the British-born entrepreneur who left the USA, where he also has citizenship, for Belize about five years ago. "The hidden agendas and efforts to making money off me was too much."
McAfee, a former programmer at NASA in the late 1960s, got into the software field and eventually began developing software to combat computer viruses. He founded McAfee Associates in 1987, where he stayed until 1994.
While he continued to dabble in tech, with an instant-messaging venture and cybersecurity work, he slowly disappeared from the Silicon Valley scene. In August 2009, McAfee's personal fortune plummeted to $4 million from a peak of $100 million because of the global financial crisis and recession, according to a New York Times report.
By early 2010, he was in the antibiotics business in Belize with a venture called QuorumEx.
PEACE IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
These days, life isn't on the run for McAfee. Instead, he spends most of it in a diverse neighborhood dotted with funky shops, a cinema, pizza joint and coffee shop - in other words, like most of the rest of Portland.
McAfee's rapid-fire staccato voice is interrupted by phone calls and texts from business associates and friends.
A typical day is split juggling his various projects - at least five books, a movie and a documentary - and keeping a low profile. "I'm not doing a movie to clear my name; it is to make money," he says. "I'm too old to work at McDonald's and just tired of technology."
Indeed, McAfee's worries tend to be more financial than legal. He says he left most of his assets - $5 million worth of property and investments - behind in Belize. The antivirus company bearing his name was acquired by Intel for $7.68 billion in 2010, but McAfee has not been affiliated with it for more than 20 years. He says he has been forced to work on multiple film and book projects to make a living.
Legally, McAfee says U.S. authorities have made no effort to question him since he returned in December. "I chose not to answer questions in Belize," he says in explaining why U.S. officials have left him alone. "That is a right we enjoy in this country."
Despite his "person of interest" status in Belize, authorities haven't called him an actual suspect. Raphael Martinez, a spokesman for the Belize police, says McAfee has not been charged and there is no plan to extradite him. "We only want to question him, should he return to Belize," Martinez says. "Nothing has changed since he left the country last year."
McAfee left Belize, he says, to avoid any complications when in custody. On numerous occasions, he has accused Belize officials of corruption.
He accounts with unnerving detail his one night in a Belize jail cell. "It was a small, concrete cell where human waste was stored in a milk carton," he says. "At 2 a.m., a drunk was put in the cell and knocked the carton over. The rest of us spent the night huddled together."
He says it doesn't take imagination to envision "thuggish" Belize prison guards using baseball bats to beat a confession out of a murder suspect - or person of interest. "I wasn't about to stick around and find out," he says. "I did what I did - lied, faked a heart attack, put on disguises (as a construction worker) - to get home."
RENAISSANCE MAN - OR MAD MAN?
"If you put yourself in his shoes, you completely understand the things that he did," says McAfee's live-in girlfriend, Janice Dyson, one of several women he says he's seeing. She's writing a book on him as well.
"We have a tendency to forget strange things like corruption and murder often happen in places like Belize," says Francois Garcia, who has known McAfee for years and is producing the official film.
Still, the past few months have unnerved McAfee, who is jumpy at times during the lengthy interview and is strategically seated so as to always face the street. "I am the master of sullying my name," he acknowledges, then tosses off a bon mot. "What do you expect from a murderer, drug addict, pedophile and paranoid schizophrenic mad man?"
"I'm an old man and change phone numbers often (to remain elusive)," says McAfee, who is fit, tan and repeatedly asserts he has not taken drugs since 1983.
With a tinge of apparent sadness, he cites a passage from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, underscoring the loss of hippie innocence amid moral decay. McAfee has a fondness for such sayings and quoting, verbatim, monologues from Bladerunner, Hamlet, German poetry and Tom Wolfe's Of Time and the River.
"Belize sounds like paradise, but it is a dangerous place," says Clark Kohanek, who is writing the official movie's screenplay. "John got caught up in the craziness."
Whether craziness in a foreign land or something else, McAfee takes a more philosophical view of this whirlwind of events: "Life is not what we think it is."