COLUMBUS _ ``I think it's the end of the beginning,'' said Uncle Chet, who was sitting in his favorite rocker, sipping a Saranac.
``The beginning of what?'' I leaned back on the eight-foot ladder, dragging a 12-inch knife along a Sheetrock seam.
``The depression,'' he said. ``Like everything else, economic cycles go faster and faster. We've been in a depression for six months, and it'll probably last another 12.''
``Then what?'' I asked as Spackle slipped off the knife and landed on my glasses.
``Nice shot,'' he said.
``Careful.'' I climbed down the ladder with the mud pan and knife. ``There's enough for two.''
``Don't get belligerent, or I'll send for Blackwater.''
I went to the kitchen sink and washed up. Round the corner on the couch, Buddy, our second-grader, was using the laptop.
``Whatcha doin'?'' I asked.
``I was going on YouTube,'' he said.
``Let's hear Esmee sing `Stop and Stare,''' I said.
``You love that Esmee,'' said Uncle Chet. ``You've been talking about her for months.''
``She's good,'' said Buddy, and hooked the computer to the television to put YouTube on the big screen.
``Is that a Dell?'' asked Uncle Chet.
``Yes,'' said Buddy.
``Does it have Ubuntu?''
``No. XP,'' he said.
``The machines with Ubuntu were more expensive,'' I said as the young Dutch singer launched into OneRepublic's hit.
``She's pretty good,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Turn that up a little louder.''
``Told you,'' I said.
``How can radio compete with this?'' he said. ``A jukebox with a million songs and no commercials.''
``And tons of other stuff,'' I said.
``Why don't you take a break before you blind yourself,'' he said. ``Drink one of your beers so I don't feel like I'm imposing.''