Recently, there has been a lot of finger-pointing about who may or may not have sold some poison to a teenager, particularly Romeo Montague—whose life has been cut tragically short. Many of you have named me as the culprit, but I can neither confirm nor deny it as I am bound by doctor-patient confidentiality. It would violate the oath I took as an apothecary to divulge such information.

Sure, I was seen with Romeo the night of his death, but that could have been for anything—some horehound for a cold or perhaps frankincense for early-onset arthritis. I cannot say, because I am bound by law not to disclose what I prescribe for a patient. Why, many of you in this very room have come to me under the cloak of night to buy drams that you hope to keep a secret from your wives and neighbors. Suppose I were to open up about one of my patients, who is to say what other secrets I may spill?

And yes, even though it is none of your business, I have fallen on some hard times, but everyone has with the crime in this city so out of control. Whoever started the rumor that I would do anything for forty ducats is the real criminal here. I live a humble lifestyle, almost like a monk; I’m pious, devout, and chaste. Well, maybe not chaste, but I am not a member of the clergy, now am I?

I am very well aware that Mantua’s law prevents the sale of poison to anyone, especially minors. I am an upstanding member of this community, and I would never intentionally help a lovesick teen off himself over a girl. But even if I had, I couldn’t tell you about it. Even if I did give the boy poison, which I am not saying that I did… perhaps it was just to deal with a massive rat problem that seems to have besieged this town. Once it has left my hands, it is up to the owner to handle it properly. Poisons don’t kill people; people kill people and large rats.

What about the person who sold the blade with which that poor girl stabbed herself? Will he not be brought to this kangaroo court as well? Or the blacksmith that forged it? Shouldn’t he be held accountable?! What about the miner that dug out the ore that made the steel for the blade? And who is this Friar Lawrence I’ve been hearing about? He also seems to be doling out potions all willy-nilly to any lovesick teenager that knocks on his door. At least my poisons work—again, if they were my poisons at all.

We have two dead bodies on our hands, and I think that is what we need to be focusing on. Finding the person or person who may have sold this Romeo kid poison is beside the point. I would put it to you that politicizing the death of two innocent children is just as toxic as the poison itself. Now is a time for mourning, not for blaming.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll excuse me, I have some leech jars that are not going to inventory themselves. Good day!