The way the homocide detective described it was this:
If you never confess, then you might be innocent.
If you deny and deny and deny -- say it 116 times, you didn't do it and don't know --but you confess once, then you're guilty. Even if that one time is only as sort of saying you're sorry, which you phrase as "I didn't mean for it to happen," and does not involve you taking responsibility for what you're saying you're sorry about, you are guilty. You confessed. You said it: You're guilty. Though the detective disbelieves all the denials, all the lies, everything else you've said, and though you might of confessed because he told you there were witnesses against you and a video tape and your DNA was there (though all of that was tactic and none of it true), and he kept saying that -- saying, do you understand? We have you're DNA and we know, we know you were there. We just want you to have a chance to explain -- then even though all the other times you were lying, that one time was the unshakable, unmistakable truth. And you're guilty.
But do you think, I said, anybody ever confesses when they didn't do it?
No, he said.
Which made me guess there was no Calvinism in his childhood. No strick Catholicism or Judaism either. No welling up need, as Graham Green, for someone to say you're sorry to. No childhood lessons of fire that never goes out or being dirty before God, dirty in your heart, sick and sick and sick and bad in a way that was going to make your mother cry when the kingdom of God came and everybody went there but you, or before then if you were found out and sent away to a city where sick things happened and dirty things belonged -- because you were guilty, and it was a secret, and you were sick.
No, the detective said. To something they didn't do? No. Put it this way, he said, I would never confess to something I hadn't done, would you?
All the time, I said. I don't mean to.