A MOST UNUSUAL PITCH: A DRAGON’S DEN FANTASY
by Ikeke Azeke
Nervous wrecks are the norm when entrepreneurs step into the Den. But our protagonist, JC is quite different. Decked in a spotless white suit, he is confident, almost like he has the answer for every possible question they might throw at him. His steps are measured, slow, majestic, almost like time is his servant. At the sight of him, our dragons immediately sense something different. The tables are turned and for the very first time in the Den, it is the dragons who are nervous in the presence of the entrepreneur.
JC: Good day everyone.
The dragons are still a little uncertain as to what is happening, they are especially confused because they are now the ones needing our protagonist to make them feel at ease in his presence. They are even a little more embarrassed when they suspect, from the look in our protagonist’s eyes that he knows exactly what they are thinking. Our protagonist continues
JC: Death…man’s greatest enemy. His greatest fear. The one event that happens to all, whether rich or poor, foolish or wise, servant or master. From time immemorial, man has spun myths and told tales about evading or attempting to evade this most certain event. From the epic of Gilgamesh to the fountain of youth, to the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life, the obsession with immortality is a prominent feature of humanity.
The dragons become attentive, eager to see where our protagonist is going with this
JC: My father and I have made it our business to grant this innermost desire to anyone who would take advantage of what we are offering. The terms of our offer are simple, in exchange for your souls, we are offering a guarantee of eternal life in addition to eternal dividends equivalent to how much of yourself you invest in our cause. I will be more than happy to answer your questions.
The room goes dead silent. The dragons cannot believe their ears. This is complete utter nonsense and yet for some reason they feel they do believe our protagonist deep within them. The resolute, calm, confident look in the eyes of our protagonist assure the dragons he totally believes every word he just said. The first dragon, somewhat nervy begins the questioning
FD: You and your father run this business?
FD: And how much of the business does he own?
The dragons are all puzzled
FD: And how much of the business do you own?
FD: I do not understand, how is that possible? And why is your father not here?
JC: My father and I are one and whoever has seen me has seen him.
The dragons look at one another to make sure they are all hearing the same thing. Our protagonist has been talking trash since he entered the Den, yet there is something very convincing about his composed regal demeanor. The second dragon swoops in to find out more about this business
SD: How long have you and your father been in this business?
JC: Even though my father and I have been together for much longer, we have been doing this for over twenty centuries and two decades now
SD: That is ridiculous, you look thirty…thirty-five at most, you were not even born during the second world war
JC: Before Adolf Hitler, I am
SD: (After a very brief skeptical pause), and what is the market for this “death-defying” product of yours? What is the success rate?
JC: A great multitude which no one can number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues. And the success rate is 100%, this is why I call it a guarantee. Those who accept this offer do not die.
SD: And these great multitude of people you mention, they are all alive? Every one of them?
JC: Yes, although I would admit the greater number of them are what you would call “dead”, still about three billion of them are what you would call alive.
SD: Wait, wait, wait, let me cut you off right there! Some of them are dead?
JC: Would you say you are alive?
All the dragons laugh at this point. For the first time, they do seem truly at ease in presence of this most unusual entrepreneur.
SD: (sarcastically) My lawyer wouldn’t read my will yet…So I guess so
JC: My point exactly
SD: What is your point?
JC: You do not know the difference between the dead and the living. Anyone who does not accept what me and my father offer is already dead long before they reach the point you recognize them as dead. Whoever accepts what me and my father offer never dies and continues to live even when they reach the point you would call them dead.
The third dragon angrily speaks up
TD: Are you saying we are dead?!
JC: (Very calmly turns to look at him) That is precisely what I am saying
All the dragons are once again taken aback. The tense atmosphere returns to the Den. The fourth dragon gathers her thoughts
FTD: How much did you and your father invest in this business?
JC: Just me
FTD: What do you mean just you?
JC: I was the investment
FTD: I do not understand
JC: I mean everything to my father yet he invested me into this business. I had to taste of death myself just like everybody else but unlike everybody else, I solved the death problem by rising from the dead. My guarantee to everybody who accepts what me and my father offer is based on this premise; because I died and rose from the dead, they will also be raised from the dead when they die too.
FTD: (eyes widening) So you conquered death by dying? And you offer anyone who accepts your offer the opportunity to also conquer death even if they do die so that in essence, they never die?
Our protagonist smiles for the first time since entering the Den. It clearly has an effect on all the dragons as they are smitten by his charisma and poise even as he shows excitement.
JC: Flesh and blood did not reveal that to you
FTD: That’s genius!
All the other dragons are a bit confused. How has the fourth dragon understood any of this gibberish? The fourth dragon still has one more query
FTD: But wait, do you have any proof for this? These are very outrageous claims you are making here
Our protagonist takes off his suit, his tie, his shirt and his inner vest to reveal the most hideous scars on his back. He also shows his sides with a gaping hole in it, it looks like a spear was thrust into it from one end to the other. He stretches out his hands to show deep cuts which seem to be the result of nails being driven deep into them. He takes off his shoes and his socks, his feet seem to have identical scars to the ones on his hands. Our protagonist looks at the fourth dragon
JC: Come…thrust your hands into my sides, and your fingers into my hands.
The fourth dragon gets up as if in a trance and approaches our protagonist. She begins to weep as she examines the scars and sees his sides, she realizes no one could really have survived such brutality. She was convinced he must have died even though he was currently very much alive. She embraces our protagonist and kisses him. Our protagonist is fighting back tears at this point. Despite our protagonist’s poise and dignity, he shows his vulnerable side. He is on the brink of tears not just because he remembers his pain and suffering but also because moments like these make everything he went through worth it and he knows he would gladly do it again and again if he could. He kisses her forehead and affectionately sniffs her hair. Our protagonist invites all the other dragons to do the same. The first, second and third dragons examine the scars also. Emotions run high in the den, the fifth dragon has one final query as he watches the other dragons head back to their seats.
FFD: (Indifferent to the entire scenery) You have walked into a room having six hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds staring you straight in the face. We the dragons have a combined net-worth of about one and a half billion pounds, yet I have not heard you mention money once in this entire conversation.
JC: I do not seek what you have, I seek you
FFD: Well, you should seek both me and what I have, that is the whole point of the Dragon’s Den! Anyway, say I wanted to invest in this business of yours, how much money would you require?
JC: What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
There is a brief moment of silence, our protagonist shows absolutely no nerves. It is the dragons who are nervous. The fifth dragon breaks the silence
FFD: Look, I would tell you where I am at, I look at this business, it is thriving already apparently, you do not seem to care about my money or my contacts and I’m sitting here asking myself what value I can bring into the business, and my answer is none, so for that reason I’m out (folds his book and places it on the table).
The first dragon dashes a quick glance at the other dragons, he senses none of them are willing to speak yet, he declares his hand
FD: Mr. JC, you do look like a nice guy, you strike me as a man of integrity, I do find myself believing every word you said but…and this is a big but for me, I really do not understand this business of yours at all. I would definitely be open to working with you in the future on a business I can fully understand. So on this note, I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors but I am also out (folds his book and places it on the table).
Our protagonist keeps a straight face and politely nods at the first dragon, his exact reaction to the fifth dragon. The third dragon speaks
TD: I think your whole pitch is ridiculous and vague. For a neatly dressed bloke who speaks with as much charisma as you do, I think you have set out to insult the intelligence of the dragons and I am having none of this. It takes an idiot to believe he would not die because he accepts your offer. I am not an idiot and I hate my intelligence being insulted, so I am also out (folds his book and places it on the table).
Tears stream down our protagonist’s face. There are few things more hurtful to the protagonist than his scars being despised. He however regains his composure; he respects the third dragon’s choice. The second dragon has been quietly mulling over the entire pitch, he says what is on his mind,
SD: I don’t agree with TD and I do perfectly understand your business, I have seen the proof and I believe it, so on that basis, I am going to make you an offer. (Continues after a brief pause) I think my soul is too much of an investment but I am prepared to offer you four hundred million pounds, about three quarters of my net worth in lieu of my soul for your guarantee of eternal life and another ten million pounds in lieu of myself for a proportionate share of the eternal rewards you offer.
Our protagonist is blank, but again begins to weep as he looks at the fourth dragon who has been weeping since touching his scars. She wipes her tears and through intermittent sobs proceeds
FTD: I see that I need you more than you need me, as a matter of fact I wonder why you need me (continues to cry), one moment please (cries some more). I will make you an offer, my soul, and all of me, for your guarantee of eternal life…and all of you (breaks down crying again) and all you have to offer
The second dragon cuts in
SD: Four hundred and ten million pounds JC, think about it! You would be a very rich man JC!
Our protagonist completely ignores the second dragon, with teary eyes, his choice is clear, he looks at the fourth dragon and spreads his arms wide
JC: I accept your offer
The fourth dragon gets up and runs into our protagonist’s arms, she is still a nervous wreck. Our protagonist, himself in tears, comforts her. The second dragon is puzzled as to what kind of man turns down four hundred and ten million pounds without thinking twice while the first, third and fifth dragons ponder on whether they just missed out on the greatest deal they might ever get.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)