Solomon sat on his father’s knee and listened to the scribe read the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Lost now—new versions and new versions of the new versions supressed through ancient doublespeak and a ministry whose claim on truth was so much more than Winston could ever imagine.
But these were Solomon’s stories, too. Stories that he listened to with fear. Fear of the cold desert nights. Fear of foreign peoples holding sway over him. Fearof loss and lack. And, with each hearing, Solomon determined more firmly never to live like that. Never to feel the dust of long marches in his teeth. Never to watch the blood spill from an enemy by his own hand. Never to suffer the fate of his brother, never to feel the sting of cold steel through his flesh.
And so Solomon became a builder. Little fortresses, walls and citadels of sand and wood. Temples too, though his father would dash these immediately upon seeing them. They were not his to build, his father would say. Not his to build here in a fortress drenched in blood. Not his to build in jest. Not something for play.
And Solomon grew in hatred towards his father, and vowed someday to build the most temples of any king of Israel. Temples to every god in the heavens. Gods foreign and exotic, bringing with them the foreign peoples to whom his father had been subject, from whom he had had to beg. Temples with priests and priestesses of every description, burning their incense on the hills around the citadel, rising to the king’s nose, filling his bed chamber, and making their god smile.
Little Solomon dreamed of the day his father would finally die. Too old to dance, too wounded to walk properly, too stupid to know the meaning of power. Dashed temples would rise up again in stone and timber, alabaster and gold. They would surround the city of his father, and here, right in the middle of it, on the mound set aside by his father, Solomon would raise the most important of them all—the Temple of the one God his own people said they believed in, the Temple to their uniqueness in the world. It would be the achievement of his life, against which his own people would measure everything else that he or any other king, past or future, It would stand with a little devil on its ramparts next to its name, inscribed there: ‘The Moment’. (Stone by stone, this part of the Temple was moved near Zarathustra’s mountain after it was destroyed.)
Solomon, building his little temples in the sand, had an inkling that, though he might imagine a temple to Ash’toreth or Milcom or Chemosh or Molech, he could not imagine the Temple for his own people. It was alien to him, and he never tried a maquette of it with sand and blocks of wood. The Moment was not something that could be built by human hands alone. No one man could direct the path of time towards the place where it must needs arrive and whence it must depart.
No, there would be skill required to trick the God of the Moment into betraying his hand and revealing his power to Solomon (lest that Father mimic Solomon’s own, and dash this Temple to the ground). Even then, Solomon knew, the Moment was only concentrated future; distilled past. The demon who would perch there made it clear to him in a dream, and Solomon saw how the Moment would be dispersed, become no longer something for a people to worship, but an individual to receive, as the miracle at the end of his labour.
The little temples that grew and were destroyed, only to become the material for the next day’s building, were little vessels, pooling with the presence of moments not yet coalesced into the Moment of the God. Water spilling over into canals and channels Solomon carved between them. The Sea of bronze that would stand in the courtyard of the One Moment would be broken and spilled in a few centuries, and then a facsimile would train men’s minds towards the idea of the One, even though that Moment had long since dispersed.
On the day that his brother Adonijah declared himself king. On that day while the naked Shunamite virgin rubbed herself against the now impotent warrior father laid up in his death bed, Solomon had already built more than anyone could have grasped. Adonijah, the drunken fool, thought that a party and the desire to lead was enough. He’d listened eagerly to the Chronicles, but to the wrong parts. Solomon had the prophet and the priest and the general already installed in rooms in his many buildings.
Adonijah. the drunken fool. Grasping the horns of the altar of the Moment to come. He’s lucky that the Moment didn’t incinerate his pickled flesh.
It was only too easy to pardon him. So much for Adonijah. He was never an Absalom, and he could not begin to conceive of what Solomon would build.
When Solomon’s putative descendant was taken to the desert by that devil of the Moment to be shown the meaning of power, great glistening groups of temples rose out of the sand—silica fusing into glass to sparkle like so many diamonds. It took the descendant a while to realize that this was no temptation to seize power, but rather the promise of the power that had been set in motion by his grandfather so many times removed. The descendant discovered again the Temple of the one Moment, and saw it inscribed in his own flesh, and suddenly the promise of Solomon, woven into the destroyed and now copied Temple could, a disease vector now, be transmitted to all.
Israel would finally be a nation of priests to all the foreign peoples. All the foreign peoples that had made Solomon’s father, the mighty warrior and his band of brothers, beg and cower in their midst when Saul had tried to resist the inevitable. The disease would spread with a virulence never before experienced, bearing with it each mutation as it strengthened within its human hosts. It flowed through the gate on a crooked path then paved smooth with the Truth.
Those towering cities of temples could only be glimpsed through the gateway, and eventually incorporated it. (En-corpora. Corporation. Corpse. The virus that eventually kills its host.)
And the now is the Moment and the Moment yearns to be encapsulated in its gateway, but the gateway is Solomon’s to build. The devil dwarf brings him a ring to control the many of his brothers and sisters that resist the Moment, in whose names men have concentrated their longing for it. They inhabited the little temples that Solomon the boy-prince had built there in the citadel. They will inhabit again the temples on the hill east of Jerusalem, and again, as the Moment is dispersed once more in its new form, the temples of steel and glass that are built out of the deserts throughout the nations.
Solomon’s successors will write and re-write his story, struggling with great strength against their misunderstanding of the Moment, and the God of their uniqueness. He built the gateway, but he also built so many little gates and posterns and doors in that hill east of the citadel. His harlot harem. Concubines and wives. He must never have smelled of anything but cunt, frankincense and myrrh.
But the riches these structures funnelled through the city, the people—under Solomon, they learned that the God of the Moment was easier to grasp in a fist full of coins than one filled with steel. Under Solomon, they learned that the many demons were under his power in ways that their meagre wisdom could in no way comprehend.
And the demons and the devils built the Temple for him, alongside the workers, and then they all went to live and fuck in the houses Solomon built for them on the mountain east of Jerusalem. The workers fucked the demons and the demons ate their children, and the real story was written there in the sideshow tents on the outskirts of town.