Terrance Q. Hyatt Federal Penitentiary in Northern California was the closest thing to hell on earth for the 1500 inmates it housed. T-Hy, as it was commonly known, was an infamous and dangerous maximum security prison for the most hardened of criminals. The facility sat on 38 acres of land in the middle of a redwood forest. It was encased by a daunting 12-foot electrified fence topped by razor wire as well as in impenetrable outlying 20-foot brick wall. Prison guards escorted by trained and vicious German shepherds patrolled T-Hy’s perimeter. An array of motion detectors and cameras kept a watchful eye on all inmates, and remote-controlled steel doors kept them confined. There was no escaping T-Hy. As a prisoner at T-Hy, if the confinement and ever hostile environment didn’t drive you mad, the lack of central heat and air in most of the facilities could snap even the most iron-clad psychos.
Abdullah found solace in the Quran. The holy text kept him sane. He was serving a life sentence for a slew of charges including drug trafficking, extortion, and capital murder. The year was 2013. Abdullah arrived at T-Hy in 2000 when he was 21 years old. On this particular day, Abdullah sat alone in his cell reading scriptures. Over the past 13 days, he got to enjoy a bit of extra alone time. Abdullah was assigned a new cell mate named Trey Zack Li two weeks ago. Trey was the target of endless and aggressive ridicule from the get-go. This problem was compounded by the fact he gained his fame as a fighter. Trey Zack Li was not just a fighter, but the most renowned martial artist of his generation. There were plenty of egomaniacal psychopaths in prison with nothing to lose that yearned to prove their toughness by squaring off against someone who had to register his hands and feet as lethal weapons every year like Trey.
Trey‘s first physical confrontation occurred during his second day of incarceration at T-Hy. The other inmates had been clamoring about Trey Zack Li upon his arrival. They dubbed him Mr. Mixed Martial because Trey had a prolific career as a big ticket professional mixed martial artist. However, the inmates made it clear that Trey’s prowess in the caged ring as a prizefighter wouldn’t ensure his survival in the unforgiving and unrelenting pen. Basically, Trey had a huge target on his back, but he was used to that. The first bold prison contender to confront Trey was Robert “Blobby” Jones, a 6’2 ” 271 pound monster of a man whose aggression was fueled by his insatiable appetite and greed. Blobby accosted Trey in the mess hall after lunch.
“Mr. Mixed Martial, you owe me a tray a day or,” Blobby began to say.
“Or what?” Trey quickly retorted.
“Or you’re going to be in a world of p….gaaaaah!”
Blobby violently gagged mid-sentence because Trey caught him with a swift crane punch to the Adam’s apple followed by a thrusting right cross to the chest that he put his hips into. The bruising blow took Blobby’s breath away, made his heart skip a couple of beats, and broke his sternum. Blobby collapsed in a heap on the concreted floor. Trey mounted Blobby in a ground-and-pound position that was all-too-familiar to him. Then Trey raised his left arm to deliver a hammer punch, but a corrections officer named Griggs appeared and caught his arm to mercifully prevent further damage similar to the way a referee would intervene in the caged ring after a knockout during an MMA bout.
“God dammit, Li. He’s had enough!” Griggs cursed. He pulled Trey off Blobby and said, “We were hoping you wouldn’t cause problems like this. You’re going straight to the hole, Karate Man.”
So that is what warranted Trey’s first 14-day stay in solitary confinement. Trey was whisked away to a 12 x 12 ft concrete box in the basement of T-Hy on a long corridor that housed a dozen identical cells. Trey was only permitted to leave his cell to shower or phone his attorney, 23 hour lockdown. The monotony of solitary didn’t get to Trey at first. A disciplined workout regimen and meditation helped pass the time. After the first six days, Trey decided to phone his attorney. Trey’s attorney was Chauncey Levin, an old friend who was his roommate in college.
“Hello,” Chauncey answered the phone.
“It’s me, Zack” Trey said.
“I know it’s you, Zack. The first hint was, ‘You have a collect call from a Federal Correctional Facility from Trey Li’,” Chauncey joked.
“That’s funny,” Trey laughed at how Chauncey mimicked his voice. “I’m guessing you’ve heard about my little spat here.”
“Spat? Is that what you call it? You damn near put that guy in cardiac arrest and caught another serious charge. I’m guessing you were trying to send a message.”
“Well, how are things going besides that?”
“They got me down here in the hole. I been thinking about my daughter like crazy. How is Faith?”
“She misses you a lot, Zack, but she’s fine, a budding and bubbly four year old.”
“What about Madison?”
“She’s still a bitch.”
“Hey, that’s still my wife, for now.”
“You know I never liked that slut. She called me to inform me that I should be receiving those divorce documents soon.”
“Yeah, our relationship was doomed from the start.”
“You’ll be better off without her. I’m filing your appeal. I’ll do my best to get you out of there ASAP.”
“Do what you can. Keep me posted. My times about up on the phone. I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Okay, Zack. Keep your head up. Bye, love ya bro.”
“I love you too, Chance. Goodbye.”
Time in solitary confinement lulled by for Trey. Eventually, his time in the hole was up. A guard came to release Trey. Griggs told Trey that the warden wanted to see him, so Trey was escorted to the warden’s office. He sat across the desk from Dr. Nelson Norris. Dr. Norris earned his doctorate in criminal psychology and was a widely respected warden who was known for his unconventional methods.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Li. Welcome,” Dr. Norris greeted.
“Dr. Norris,” Trey nodded.
“After two weeks, I generally meet with new inmates to discuss how they are coping with and adjusting to prison life. However, it seems like a run-in with Big Robert Jones landed you in iso for your first two weeks here at T-Hy.”
Trey just grinned and shrugged his shoulders. Then he said, “That run-in you speak of was fairly anti-climactic.”
“Regardless, reports say you were the primary aggressor and instigator.”
“I felt like I was provoked.”
“This is prison, Mr. Li. Every gesture and every word uttered is a provocation. Big Blobby has quite a reputation on your cell block. He’s put his fair share of people in the infirmary. It’s nice to see him get a dose of his own medicine.
“I only did it to prevent a problematic pattern from developing.”
“I’ve been running this prison for a long time and studying criminal minds even longer. I understand, Mr. Li. You are not the first professional fighter or boxer to reside in T-Hy.”
Another sly smirk ran across Trey’s face. This time he simply smiled and nodded.
Dr. Norris continued, “The inmates in here can be savages. Not only are you fresh meat, but you’re a sultry piece of meat because of your reputation.”
“That’s irrelevant. That’s not my fault,” Trey stated.
“I didn’t say it was. Nonetheless, my responsibilities as warden entail providing a safe and structured environment to rehabilitate hardened criminals into functional and productive members of society.”
“I know what a warden does, Dr. Norris.”
“You must not consider yourself a hardened criminal. Judging by your dossier, you’re definitely not a career criminal, but you have this one serious man slaughter charge. Still I can’t have you going Kung Fu on everybody that looks at you funny.”
“I’m willing to deal with the consequences of my actions, Dr. Norris.”
“I can respect that, but I cannot keep you in solitary confinement for fifteen years. Like most of America, I followed your trial very closes because of your celebrity. In the interest of objectivity, I won’t reveal whether or not I agreed with the verdict. When you were sentenced though, I was hoping they would send you to my facility to serve your time, Mr. Li.”
“I’m in the midst of developing a special and innovative work-release program that would be perfect for you. I’ll go into more depth about it with you at a later date. There are still some details I have to hash out with my superiors.”
“Hmmm. Work release? $1.10 an hour? Even after paying all my legal bills and with my soon-to-be ex-wife’s spending habits, I haven’t blown my whole fortune. I’d only consider something like that if I could get time off my sentence,” Trey said.
“Of course. That’s about all I have to discuss with you for now. Try to stay out of trouble.” Dr. Norris pressed the button for the intercom on his desk to beacon the guard waiting outside and said, “Griggs you may take Mr. Li to his cell.”
In mere moments, Griggs had taken Trey to his cell block. Griggs called out a number which was followed by a loud buzzing sound that triggered the automatic mechanism to unlock and open the cell door. Abdullah was inside sitting in his bed on the bottom bunk reading the Quran. He looked up briefly when Trey entered. This was nothing like two chummy college roommates reuniting after spring break. The two simply exchanged cordial nods before Abdullah refocused his attention to the holy text.
Trey took a seat in one of the cold metallic stools that sat across from one another near a small table that was affixed to the cell wall. His personal affects were still sitting on his side of the table where he placed them two weeks prior: a composition book, bible, two pencils, a toothbrush, and a comb. There were also four pieces of mail addressed to Trey Li that must have arrived while he was in solitary confinement. The first letter was from Kelly Lynch, a deranged groupie that stalked Trey since 2001.
Hello my love. I want you to know that your incarceration will not abate the feelings I have for you in my heart. I want to see you, so please make sure you put my name on your visitation list. I miss you so much. I often reminisce about all the moments we shared. Memories of those moments are what I think of when I lay in bed pleasuring myself. In fact I’m pleasuring myself as I write this letter. Oh! Oh! Trey! Oh! I’m cumming! Oooohhh! I will love you until the end of time. Your’s forever, Kelly Lynch-Li
The second letter was from Vinata Concord, Trey’s best friend and confidant. Vinata met Trey in 1985 when they were in kindergarten at Bradley Elementary School in Trey’s hometown, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. When they were in high school, they both earned their lettermen as four year members of the varsity wrestling team and Nease High School. Surfing was another common hobby they shared. They caught countless waves together. Besides dating for a couple years in high school their relationship remained mostly plutonic except for one night when they hooked up in college at UCLA. They cared deeply for one another. Vinata’s letter brought a smile to Trey’s face.
Zack, you can rest assured that this will be the first of many letters I send you. I will always be here for you and in your corner through thick and thin. I’ll come see you as soon as I can. You don’t deserve to be in there. I’ve started collecting signatures for a petition that should help with your appeal according to Chauncey. Things aren’t the same without you around. You’ve been missing some big swells. The waves have been awesome lately. I also want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to oversee your companies while you are away. I never thought I was CEO material. Your record label is doing well. The Blazers will be going on a big national tour next year, and I’m close to sealing the deal on a couple of big contracts for the clothing line. Make sure you take care in there. I’ll write you again soon. Love, Vinata.
The third letter was from Pedro Sanchez, commonly known as El Ladrillo (The Brick). Pedro was the ruthless leader of a Mexican drug cartel. Pedro followed Trey’s career for many, many years. He was really impressed when Trey defeated Orlando Fernando, the pride of Mexico, in Trey’s first championship pay-per-view fight. He also had to respect the bravery of a man with morals who could turn down the enormous bribe Pedro offered him to throw the fight. Pedro was a bit of a bookworm who racked up several online degrees under the guise of his aliases. He snorted and smuggled copious amounts of cocaine, but he was a lonely and reclusive man for obvious reasons. Pedro and Trey eventually became friends through some extenuating circumstance.
Greetings, amigo. I was most disheartened to learn about the unfortunate events that landed you in prison. I recently received news from my cohorts behind bars about an altercation you had in there. You need not worry about anything like that in the future. Anyone who has a problem with Trey Zack Li has a problem with El Ladrillo, and anyone with a problem with El Ladrillo as a problem with LLH. I’ll make sure they watch your back. If there’s anything you need while you are locked down, let me know. Best wishes, Dro.
The last letter was from the Wrigley Publishing Company. It was concise and to the point. Wrigley wanted the rights to Trey’s life story. They urged him to pen his memoirs and promised him a hefty advance with respectably royalties for a complete autobiographical manuscript. This offer intrigued Trey. During his last session of therapy before he reported to prison, his doctor told him that writing and journaling would help him cope with being incarcerated. Trey decided to get started right away. He grabbed a pencil and opened his composition book…