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Concerning the Winter Soldier

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Does the Winter Soldier look at the cleaning woman who brings him clothes after he has come out of cryo? Red shirt, black pants, underwear, socks. Does she look at him when she lays the clothes on the stool? When he reaches for them and covers his naked body?

Does the Winter Soldier's handler talk to him other than orders and briefings? Does he make conversation while the Winter Soldier eats his first meal? With the guards stationed outside the vault, the doctors holed up in an office two floors above? Does the handler comment on the freshness of the organically grown tomatoes, the agreeableness of the fish imported from Chile? On the boiled potatoes? Does he speak of the cook who prepared this meal? Has the Winter Soldier ever enjoyed a political discussion with his handler?

Is the Winter Soldier frightened by the initials S.S.R.?

Is the Winter Soldier frightened by the numbers 32557038?

Will the Winter Soldier have time to check the weapons, the gear, the functionality of his metal arm? If the Winter Soldier is given the time, will he disassemble, clean and reassemble the M4 carbine assault rifle? Will there be gun oil? Will there be cotton swabs? When is the Winter Soldier given ammunition to load the gun?

Is the Winter Soldier frightened of the word Sputnik? Is the Winter Soldier frightened of rooms with red training mats, a straight red line circling the walls? At what level of skill and programming is the Winter Soldier ordered to train others?

Is the Winter Soldier sufficiently compensated for his work (a gift to mankind, after all)? Can his training, his fighting skills, the languages he was taught, the places he was ordered to travel, count as compensation? Is he paid as well as a mechanic? As well as an army sergeant? Are the clothes and gear sufficient pay, the food, the cot? The years frozen in cryostasis? The metal arm? Is the target's vehicle armored? What is the best speed of the target's vehicle? Can it equal the Winter Soldier appearing in the middle of the street? What are the weight and the added options of the target's vehicle? Can they equal a magnetic disk grenade?

Does the Winter Soldier gauge the importance of his handler in terms of the level of security when he enters his home? Should there be two bodyguards, one visible, one invisible, at the security desk, on the roof? Should there be passcodes, smart locks, armed bolts, a panic room? With only the watchman in the lobby and the housekeeper in the apartment, does the Winter Soldier feel himself part of an elite circle, watchman, housekeeper, assassin? Safety, order, fear? Is he exalted at these visits? Does he wish for the solitude and darkness of the kitchen, during the hours he waits silently for his handler?

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, who handled the Winter Soldier before Hydra claimed him? Has he ever escaped? Been recaptured? Re-programmed? What is the punishment for escape? Has the Winter Soldier acquired respect for his new handler? Is there mutual accord? Is there mutual fear? When his handler comes to the kitchen for a glass of milk, is the Winter Soldier offered milk? Whiskey? Who drinks?

Can the Winter Soldier adduce instances of professional success?

Did he succeed in previous missions?

Who can take out a million targets at a time in broad daylight? Is there a new assassin within Hydra?

In the bank vault, on the other side of the closed bars: his handler and the doctor with the bow-tie with whom he is conferring. Before them (between the elevator and the outer security gate) four uniformed guards. Is their whispered conversation loud enough for the Winter Soldier to hear? What do they talk about? His latest hit, perhaps, Colonel Nicholas Joseph "Nick" Fury, target level 5? How many of them have monitored his first attack on 17th Street, how many were on audio when he took out the target? Do they rehearse the savaging of the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. by their ex-Soviet master assassin? Do they discuss the two remaining agents in the apartment, and what happened next? Has the Winter Soldier noted the difference in comfort between his tactical vest and the charcoal suit of his handler? Between his leather boots and the Italian-made shoes of his handler?

In every part of the country, large cities and small towns, milk is stored at temperatures less than 5°C immediately after milking. It is filled in tankers that transport the milk to the processing plant where it is tested and pasteurized at either 63°C for 30 minutes or at 71°C for 15 minutes, then immediately cooled to less than 10°C, filtered and packaged in single-service cartons, stored at less than 5°C and transported to the retail outlets. Is the Winter Soldier aware of this?

Is the Winter Soldier tired of waking in the alcove of the bank vault, touching the thumb of his metal hand to each of the fingers, then getting off the cot and rounding the partition to discover, again, three people standing around the chair, another five outside the vault, in postures of agitation?

Is there a row of empty safety deposit boxes in the alcove, their doors ripped off? Is this where the Winter Soldier is allowed to place his watch when he sleeps? The cash, phone and ID they provide him with for missions? Is there a pair of black pants plus a long-sleeved red shirt (worn once already) thrown over the stool beside the cot? Is there a color foldout of a naked young woman torn from Playboy on the wall to the right, taped there by one of guards, joke, insult, admission that the asset is a man, after all? Is there hidden in a safety deposit box on the other side, ninth box from the left, twelfth from the top, a bloodied tooth with a cyanide pill? A worn stub of a subway ticket for the Myrtle Avenue El, dated March 23, 1967? Is there an open can of banana-flavored Pure Protein Ready to DrinkTM sitting on the floor below the cot? A Russian copy of Tevye the Milkman by Sholem Aleichem?

Has the Winter Soldier ever seen Shloyme Mikhoels in the role of Tevye the Milkman? Does the Winter Soldier remember Shloyme's friend, Golubov-Potapov? Does the Winter Soldier enjoy sitting on the back seat of Stalin's black-silvered car? Does he trust the man who drives the car? Does the Winter Soldier think a less conspicuous car would be more suited to the mission? Does he like the winter of 1948 in Minsk? Can he feel the cold in his metal arm? Does the Winter Soldier regret the driver did not survive the crash? Or did he rather count on the driver dying in the crash so he can drive the car to Stalin's dacha? Does the Winter Soldier enjoy stretching his metal arm out of the window on the driver's side? Does he smile as the sun glints off it like his arm is a freshly sharpened knife?

Does the Winter Soldier listen to the speeches of his handler's party on the vault's TV screens? Is he persuaded by what he hears there? Does the Winter Soldier know which of the great blocs his country aligned itself with during the Second World War? During the First World War? Does the Winter Soldier know which countries are the preeminent trading partners of his own country, at the present time? Which country does the Winter Soldier consider his own?

Sitting in the kitchen of his handler, the Winter Soldier is offered, unnecessarily, a glass of milk. Does he recoil, as the other drinks? Why is this old man, his handler, of such importance to the world that he deserves two bodyguards, a watchman in his lobby, a housekeeper, an assassin? A S.T.R.I.K.E. team of the first competence plus supplemental on occasion, two armored cars, stun grenades ready at hand under the front seat? What has he meant to the world? What are his plans?

Is the age of the Winter Soldier calculated as it is for other people? Do the years in cryostasis count? Is he ninety-seven, twenty-eight? When will he be decommissioned? Is there a retirement plan for the assassin the intelligence community calls the Winter Soldier? Those men in tactical gear staring at the chair or staring at the bars, who are they? Does the Winter Soldier pay heed to the complaints of the agents about the hours spent waiting in this or that underground garage, hidden behind this or that exit ramp, hours spent sitting fully armored in a car while their handler is (secure) within the Triskelion? Is their training good enough for support when taking out two targets, level six? Are these agents reliable? Is the new assassin within Hydra reliable?

Is the Winter Soldier frightened by young women with excellent training? Young red-headed women with excellent training whose civilian clothes hide God knows what kind of weapons? Does the Winter Soldier feel the situation is unfair? Has the woman the Winter Soldier trained to be a highly skilled assassin, in a country far away, come back to assassinate him? After the Winter Soldier delivered target level six, Captain Steven Grant Rogers, to the shore of the Potomac where all the wreckage from the helicarrier has been delivered, dead or alive (alive), does he stop at a grocer's on his way back to the bank? Does he stop and buy himself half a pint of milk?

Will the Winter Soldier, if tested, be equal to his task? Does the Winter Soldier know which foreign concern was the successful bidder for the construction of the helicarriers' new weapon systems? Does the Winter Soldier know which sections of the World Security Council's yearly report on terrorist activities have been falsified? Does the Winter Soldier know of Operation Paperclip and the re-grouping of Hydra within S.H.I.E.L.D. after the Second World War? Does the Winter Soldier know that the Telecommunication Act of 1996 was a provocation? Does the Winter Soldier show up unannounced at his handler's home? A place furnished in chrome and glass, a grand piano, Oriental art? Does he place the gun on the table, to disclose his spite? Is his gesture understood?

Are the streets full of ghosts? A ghost a head taller than the crowd, weaving through traffic in old-fashioned clothing when he should be wearing a blue costume with red stripes and a star? He's whipping a shield in front of his allies, miming the fighting style of a young male personage symbolizing his country. On the bridge, the Winter Soldier and his team advance on the ghost behind the shield, crouched on the asphalt as if he were a rock in a river. In the kitchen, the handler gives his orders. The timetable has been moved, two targets, level six, dead within ten hours. The S.T.R.I.K.E. agents pressing around the ghost cannot be counted, there are too many of them; he cannot be known, there are too many of them; he cannot be predicted, he has volition. In the kitchen, the housekeeper comes back for her phone. Then, a turning of the handler's body. The Winter Soldier is erratic predictable, he has orders. The handler sighs and reaches for the gun.

Does the Winter Soldier watch the housekeeper when she says good night? Does he register her clothing, grey wool jacket, blue work coat, handbag, pants? When she returns for her phone, does she look at him? Does Renata look at Pierce just as the Winter Soldier looks at Pierce, and they both watch, intently, as Pierce picks up the gun and shoots?

How much does pleasing matter? What services does the Winter Soldier provide for his handler other than the primary one? Are there services he should not be asked to perform? Is he nevertheless asked from time to time to perform such services? Does he refuse? Can he refuse? Is there, in addition to the Winter Soldier's metal arm, his gear, his skills, the alcove in the vault, further compensation? Of what kind? On what occasions?

Is it the case that, on a certain morning, in a neighborhood miles away from the handler's home, Renata's body is found in a dumpster overflowing with empty milk cartons? Which assassin is at fault?