How I dodged a bullet to take a pic of McAfee

This morning, John McAfee is free and in Miami. His hotel is keen to control media types. But I can reveal that McAfee desperately needs a toothbrush.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
He looks all right, doesn't he? Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I am currently on a psychiatrist-imposed company retreat in Miami.

I have been told not to engage strangers, nor those from or to whom I would like to become either estranged or engaged.

Sitting quietly at my beloved News Cafe this morning (yes, where Gianni Versace had his last coffee), I detected an increase in traffic but a block away.

There was the slamming of truck doors. There was a flurry of fetching TV presenters, pressing down their beige trousers by hand.

Not being an investigative reporter, I sidled over and asked a burly cameraman what was going on.

"It's John McAfee," he replied. "He's in there."

"There" was the Beacon Hotel, certainly not the most salubrious hostelry on Ocean Drive. John McAfee is the security wizard who has just been spirited out of Guatemala after a judge released him, despite his being wanted for a chat about, oh, murder in Belize.

"They won't let us in," said the cameraman. "We're a bit too obvious."

I have sometimes been referred to as the Polish Zelig. There, but not really there. Gone, but not really gone.

So I thought I'd brave the barricades, if only to try and get a picture of McAfee and see if he looked all right.

He needs a toothbrush. Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Fortunately, my normal snappy dress disappears into a flood of old H&M shorts when I'm in Miami.

So I deftly climbed the steps of the hotel to see if I could find the center of attention.

Pretending to be on the way to the elevator, I turned and there he was, having breakfast with a large man in a tie.

Who wears a tie in Miami?

More people arrived for a pre-arranged chat. I was being eyed warily by the hotel staff. My psychiatrist, a short, angry woman of dubious provenance, had warned me against being the object of anyone's suspicion. She said it was the cause of much of my malaise.

So I stood for a few seconds, took a couple of discreet, wobbly pictures (I am no paparazzo), as well as several long sniffs to check McAfee was in reasonable odor, and drifted away before my collar was felt and my feelings were hurt.

McAfee was looking presentable enough. Wearing a button-down check shirt and dark trousers and shoes, he could have easily passed for a realtor, but not a strip-club owner. Well, perhaps a strip-club owner who just got out of jail.

I can tell you that McAfee won $1 in a bet with the large man in the tie. I can also tell you that he is in desperate need of a toothbrush and other toiletries and that he seems to feel safe enough in Miami.

I am sure he will give long interviews to the waiting throngs about how he is just a nice man, wanting to have a quiet life.

I am sure he would have told me the same. But the hotel staff began to wonder what I was doing there, given that my brightly colored shorts didn't quite blend into the walls.

It's 84 degrees here and I must meditate. That's more than the street-load of media people can do, as they wait for McAfee's next revelation.

Who would you like pictures of next? Diddy?

It's all happening outside the hotel. Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
The Beacon Hotel, a beacon of justice? Chris Matyszczyk/CNET